Coming out right
Hello. My name is Sam Kebede, and I am Monday, Monday.
I look back at the experience of being Monday, Monday and oddly enough I feel a lot of regret. I originally knew I wanted to write a column for The Chronicle, but the experience of being Monday, Monday is a very different from writing other types of columns. The biggest, and most obvious, difference is the anonymity. It wasn’t so much that I had a burning desire to have my name stamped on The Chronicle every week, but that I had to keep to a character. I wrote a column in February on my experience as a black man, and I found it to be a constructive way to initiate dialogue because there was a name and face to tack onto it. With Right Wing, I always had to have a different voice that I wasn’t accustomed to, and the way I got my message out was through a roundabout series of wordplay and puns.
I made Right Wing with Stephen Colbert in mind, but with one key difference: I didn’t want people misconstruing my message. I was not willing to let the reader ever think that I could be advocating for a side other than the one I was talking about. With Colbert, the humor comes from the fact that sometimes you can’t tell if he’s taking something seriously or not. I felt like this article would be too important for that. When you read this, you can’t hear the tone changes or see my face. It’s just a sheet of words, and what I’ve noticed with Monday, Mondays of the past is that this was what used to outrage people. This line between satire and realism was played to get people mad. Although that may have made them popular, I realized that I didn’t have that in mind.
I decided to treat this column as a means for artistic expression. I thought about how Right would talk, walk and look. I had to change the way I played with words. I like to speak from my own expression. I use the words “mine,” “me” and “I” to an uncomfortable degree when I write. (As you can probably see, nearly every paragraph starts with “I”.) But this wouldn’t work for Right Wing; he had to be someone that connected with people easily. Someone who could call you “brother” and you would believe him. I had to litter my articles with the hate speech I had worked so hard to eradicate from my own vernacular. All of this was important because I knew I wanted to write about the struggles that go overlooked in our society and that can be further facilitated and substantiated by people.
I chose the topics I did based on what was affecting me that particular week. It’s a bit sad that all of those topics are part of my day to day, but that’s why I brought them up. For instance, my first column about Stop and Frisk was written just after talking to my little brother (a freshman at New York University) about the struggles of being a black person living in the City. And this was what it was like at some level for every article. Each one was inspired by the interactions I had with strangers, friends and family.
Because these stories were so personal, I definitely tried to steer clear of reading comments or listening to people’s opinion of my work. But there was one occasion when I was called out for my portrayal of the GOP as bunch of racists. I would say that I apologize to the Republicans I offended, but you are part of a party that marginalizes my existence to near insignificance, with the only exception being the monstrous character you make me out to be through microaggressions that you don’t even have the decency to acknowledge...so...yeah.
I’m sorry. That was a lot. I suppose that isn’t the right way to look at things either. I don’t want people thinking that I wrote this column with the mindset of bashing a set group of people or way of thinking, because people have different moral value systems, and it’s not my place to say whether or not one way of thinking is valid. But I did write this wanting to get out some of my thoughts. Admittedly, this may not have been the best medium for that. Because I was stuck in the character, I couldn’t directly state my thoughts or beliefs. It was all hidden behind a mask, so my major thesis of this column was never fully addressed. I went into this wanting to tackle the sense of complacency that riddles this campus. It wasn’t until a conversation I had on a walk back from Trinity Commons that I realized that I hate Thanksgiving, because it’s a holiday that centers on stopping our progression forward in order to appreciate what we have. Appreciation and gratitude are important—don’t get me wrong—but I worry that it slows us down and stops us from growing as people. Complacency is the reason you stay in that relationship for too long even though you know it’s not good for you. Complacency is what keeps us from breaking the gender and racial norms that define our society. Complacency is the reason that people like Right Wing exist and are in places of power that dictate the laws that oppress people I love. So the pan-ultimate question for me upon writing this isn’t what’s right or not, but where do we go from here?
Sam Kebede is a Trinity senior.