Someone Like Me

Posted: September 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

Mattias Lehman

It’s 1996.

I am standing before a massive gate, of Dwarven make and covered in intricate runes. I am weary from my travels, unsure of my purpose. I fear the world in which I journey, for I am oh-so-small and the world is oh-so-large. If I cannot pass through this gate where my supposed allies wait, how can I pass through the greater gates ahead of me, like Morannon?

The only clue I have is the door itself; twin trees wrapping their branches around the pillars of stone, a hammer and anvil — no doubt, the sigil of the Nogothrim who dwell within — and a crown which I can only assume speaks to the royalty of the inhabitants. Around the top of the arch is writing: the name of the gates, the builder of the door, and the inscriber of the rune, with a simple riddle, ‘speak friend and…

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Hands Up, Don't Shoot

Photo Credit Getty

For most Americans, the recent events in Ferguson are a failure of the — otherwise well-functioning — system. Many black Americans, however, have seen something different in the past week. This is the system. The crisis in Ferguson is merely a microcosm of the portrayal of black Americans in our society.

We’ve got a problem: self-defense laws read more like open season on black men.

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Portland is my kind of town. I don’t mean its liberal attitude, or its hip, ‘we don’t need your approval’ punk undertones, or its ‘we don’t got no employability’ college graduate feel. I mean the weather. It rains all year round, and it’s always cold. I’ve always gotten hives when temperatures run high or emotions flare, when I’m afraid or anxious. But around friends, I feel secure, and my flesh isn’t coated in nettles. Portland is a friend, with its cool weather and accepting atmosphere.

But tonight isn’t one of those nights.

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For many sites, a title is nothing but a pithy joke, a catchy line, and so on. But for me, Black by Popular Demand is a statement. You see, my conception starts much like a ‘walks into a bar’ joke: my mother’s an African-American choreographer, while my dad is a Swedish citizen with a penchant for getting less than useful degrees (and I am every bit his son in that regard). And what does that make me? Well, my parents, when escorting me and my little brother around, would often get the question “what are they mixed with?” like my parents had dabbled with recipes a few times before deciding on the perfect amount of chocolate for the cake. “Multiracial” is a swiftly growing demographic, but I’m still pretty sure that we (Swedrican? Swefrican? Africwedish? I am inclined to settle on the ‘only acceptable when said with a hint of irony’ “Swegro”, although my brother prefers the less informative “Halfrican”) are a pretty small group.

As a result of my eye-openingly confusing heritage, I discarded race as a construct at an early age, something lesser minds could categorize the world by, but something I would simply not deal with. Unfortunately, it has become exceedingly evident that the effect that is had by those who do treat race as important is so significant that it actually forces effects back onto me. This leads me to a series of thoughts:

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