Lady #2: Pauline Black! I’d really like to kick these out on a sort of spontaneous, weekly-ish basis. But the second in a series always turns out a bit more precious than the first for me. So the Queen of 2 Tone ended up more precise than I’d meant, but hey that’s fine!
I’ve been thinking a ton about racial identity lately. I kind of can’t stop now that I’ve started. All throughout my childhood I took my heritage for a granted a little. I’m pretty sure I pass for white. And the thing about being Asian is that for a looong time, I’d had it ingrained in my brain that Asians don’t qualify as people of color. My family didn’t push this idea on me; it’s just a bigger, societal assumption that happens. So I felt pretty white. And obviously, as a white-passing biracial woman, I’m allowed to move through the world differently than other biracial people who look more strikingly ambiguous or non-white. It also means that, at different points in my life, I’ve seriously wondered if I’m allowed to stake any claims to my heritage. But now that racial identity has become so topical, I’m analyzing my feelings toward this constantly. And dammit, I am what say I am and my heritage is mine!
Pauline Black is so inspirational to me in so many ways. When I first discovered her as a teen, her tomboy presentation was a clincher. I was also really drawn to Patti Smith during that time, but Pauline’s ever so slightly feminine and fuller-bodied tomboyism was much more achievable for me. She dressed like dudes and looked so cool and appealing doing it. There was no sort of irony in it. And there was no real, insecure counterbalancing to it either, like slathering on makeup– or I dunno, wearing a badge that said, “Oh BY THE WAY I’m a woman, okay!?” That is HUGE for a stubbornly contrary teenage girl who’s going through a phase of being constantly mistaken for a boy.
But I didn’t know then that she was biracial. And my adult self who does know loves her even more. She’s intelligent and beautiful and totally singular. Definitely a hero.
“They asked you if you’re alright. You say yes.”