The poem “brown boy , white boy ” spoke to me in a very deep way. I immediately noticed self to text connections and as I read the poem I realized I wanted to read further. I wanted to better understand how the author was feeling , what are his experiences? I connected with him and understood on a more personal level.
Jonathan Mendoz is struggling in life due to a conflict with his identity.But the conflict didn’t really start within him, it’s not about his soul or whar’s inside.instead, it’s a conflict put upon him by society , by culture,by others. There are specific pieces in the poem , that when analyzed, show how this struggle he is feeling comes from society. In this essay I will analyze 1) Jonathan’s comparison of himself to a game of tug of war, 2) Jonathan not feeling accepted among certain people or places, 3) Jonathan having to speak or behave differently and 4) Jonathan’s feelings of guilt at siding with different parts of himself.
I think it is a strong point in rhw poem when Jonathan describes the tug of war : ” biracial boy is a tug of war but biracial boy is both sets of hands pulling at each end.” Right here he is showing that it’s not coming from inside , but he is literally being pulled at each end. I feel that my life is a symbolization of this tug of war due to my family structure. On a daily basis I go through this tugging and pulling with my family as I go to school and outside activities and associations. This comes about because I have to separate my street life from my educational life. These are two different worlds because my White mother tries to stop my street life and point me in a different direction. So I feel this degree of separation because I don’t know what to do.
Jonathan also talks about his constant struggle to fit in or belong. “Biracial boy is welcome everywhere.” “Biracial boy is not welcome everywhere.” This is his struggle , one minute feeling it\’s good , I’m wanted here , and the very next second it’s no way , I’m not okay here . I deal with this because I have to fit in as a college student and meet certain stereotypes of what people expect me to be, and then I realize I’m not sure if I belong with certain groups. So then I try other groups outside of school, in my old life and old neighborhood and at first I think I belong and then it’s like wait a minute, these folks don’t get it my life as a college student and what I’m trying to do. So I’m welcome everywhere, but then I’m no really welcome everywhere.
Jonathan talks about the pressure of having to behave according to the way others see him. Once again showing the pressure of society. A facebook survey he posts will determine the clotheshe wears , his music, how he speaks. I face similar feelings because prior to my college experiences I had the habit of being very eccentric at events because this is how others saw me and what I believe they expected. I understood this idea that a survey the author took helped shape what he wore and music he listened to. It is powerful when people see you a certain way. It is hard when you come from two worlds and you’re someone who is part of both of these worlds and you’re not sure how you’re seen at different times or different places.
Jonathan struggles with feelings of what side of himself to listen to. He explains how society put this pressure on him. ” Biracial boy hates being two different selves, recalls it ‘s the world that made him this way, that splits him in half.” I relate to Jonathan’s struggles in terms of what side of himself to listen to. I have pressures that come to me from my birth family and what they want me to do for them , and my life now and things I want t o do with my life and and things I want to have that might be different from what my birth family thinks. Sometimes it feels like a struggle within value systems and it is confusing, and I think this is what the author meant when he said he doesn’t know which part of himself to listen to. My values have changed and I am focused on my education and life as a student, yet there are those in my life who don’t understand and it is a continual challenge with that.
In conclusion, I discovered in this poem the conflict the author is experiencing with his identity. He brings into the poem the issues as they seem to pertain to race, however they are issues that also have to do with self-acceptance. Which part of yourself to listen to? Where does a person best belong, are they welcome here, welcome everywhere? How much influence do others have a person’s decision about how to dress or what music to listen to? I wonder about the author’s self-esteem and feelings about himself, and how much influence s ociety had on that? I identified with this poem when it comes issues of feeling pulled in more than one direction by forces outside of myself. There doesn’t seem to necessarily be one answer…but I think the poem emphasizes the real issue of self-acceptance and eventually being able to listen to your own inner self.