November 09, 2011

Professor X and the Half Breed - Half Breed Haven

Magneto holds his hand up and with all his might, attempting to bend the metallic water tower he sees in the distance. As he furrows his brow, he thinks about the sadness and anger that fuels him, about how different he is from the rest of the world.

Professor X can see the future, his telepathic powers helping to save lives and cities. Like Magneto, he feels out of place, but there is this powerful emotion that rings inside his head, telling him Belong! Belong!

Last weekend after meeting these two X Men for the first time (yes, I know I am many decades late…) I had to ask:

What does the half breed do with his or her pain?

The X-Men, of Marvel Comic fame, present two courses of action for all of us half breeds.

Conform (to society, blend in and hide our superpowers) or Separate (and celebrate our difference even if it means a life of eternal isolation)?

In the few months since I began my blog, Half Breed Haven, I have pondered this question trying to understand both what a half breed is, (Is it someone who is of mixed race or religion? Is it anyone who feels out of place? ) and what influences a half breed’s decision-making process around the question posed by the X Men- Conform or Separate?

At times I am Magneto, angrily crushing the skulls of those who don’t except me and then there are moments when I am Professor X, eager to be considered an honored member of the place where I am.
I caught myself acting like Magneto this week when I couldn’t pronounce a word with the right Hebrew accent and I said to my staff, “You know what I mean, I can’t say it in your accent” separating myself from everyone in the room. The looked at me quizzically, perhaps not understanding why I was isolating myself from them.

Happily there are also times when I feel like I really belong, like that email I got from my boss a few days ago telling me how eloquent I am in Hebrew and how I can’t use the “new immigrant” ticket anymore to differentiate myself from the people around me.

Unlike Magneto and Professor X, more often than not, my reactions to feeling out of place are unconscious and reactive. My out of place-ness does not dictate everything I do, but it is always there, hovering above my soul like a humming bird, flitting around in and out of sight, reminding me that I am loved when I feel like a wall flower and kicking me in the butt when I am feeling powerful, part of the group. I am a half and half breed- I have the fury of the outcast Magneto and the determination to belong of Professor X.

I guess we are all half and half -breed- We are at once like Magneto and Professor X, toying with these alternate states of belonging and loneliness, forever searching for a place that makes us feel normal, whatever that is…

WCC guest post contributor Tamar Zaken is a social worker, informal educator and writer who lives in Jerusalem. She is the Director of Volunteer Service Learning at Memizrach Shemesh- the Center for Jewish Social Activism  in Israel. She started, a blog about mixed ethnic/racial identity, in order to explore her Kurdish/Hungarian/Jewish/American/Israeli identities, and to create a place for other halfbreeds (however they may define themselves...) to discuss, deliberate, enjoy and celebrate their halfbreed heritage.

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