NOTE TO BLOG READERS: This letter obviously is not real. While it has strings of humor, the overall main issue being discussed is very real. It happens to me and many other persons of color far too often and it needs to stop.
Date: The Present
Dr. Charles Xavier, Founder and Director
Xavier’s School for Higher Learning
(formerly Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters)
1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center
Westchester County, New York 10451
Dear Professor Xavier,
I believe I am a mutant (or as your friend Magneto would say, I am not homo-sapien, I am homo-superior.) Sir, I’m not a young mutant but for most of my life I’ve noticed that I have an ability to camouflage with my surroundings. It sounds odd but often, I’m not aware of when this ability is being used. I have no control over this ability but I know it exists. I am like a chameleon – an invisible man. (Ralph Ellison, wherever your spirit is now, eat your heart out!)
Professor, I realize I should have come to you decades ago but, like so many other mutants on this planet, I thought I could handle my mutant ability all on my own. After all these years, I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t handle this mutant ability so I’m finally reaching out to you.
Here is the list of basic, generally known personal information your assistant told me would be needed when corresponding with you, along with my picture.
- Age: 52.
- Gender: Male.
- Height: 6 ft.
- Weight: 220 lbs-SOLID.
- [Assumed] mutant ability: Camouflaging; able to blend-in with any inanimate object(s) or environment, becoming instantly invisible but only to some NON-persons of color.
- Ethnic classification (not the government’s but how others view you): Negro/Colored/African-American/ Black.
- Skin complexion: Caramel-butterscotch shade (aka light to brown-skinned).
- Health status: Uh, healthy…as far as I know – and as determined by most recent annual medical physical.
- Sexual Orientation: Hmmm…if this means the first time I learned about sex, then that would be 1969 – the year I first discovered the joys of masturbation. Otherwise, what does this information have to with anything? Huh? Huh?
- General appearance: “Clean looking”; with facial trim sporting “5 o’clock shadow” beard & mustache; bald head (like yours, Professor), dark eyebrows; sometimes I wear glasses. No detectable or obvious body odor.
- General attire: Clean, pressed clothing; nothing ever torn, badly worn, oily, greasy or smelly.
- Education: I’m smart. In other words, many would have to get up before “o-dark-thirty” (military jargon; meaning extremely early in the morning, like way before dawn) to pull a fast one on me! Otherwise, I have variations of formal education, twenty years of military education and training, and years of street smarts residing in my head.
- Overall classification: Alpha male, Human.
You see Professor X, with all this very visible information about me, I wonder how it is that so very often, some (NOT ALL) non-persons of color (aka WHITE persons; sorry sir, but it’s usually a person of Caucasian ethnicity can walk into a room, speak to every other white person in the room – often calling them by name and yet NOT see (or hear me talking) or speak to me – a person who happens to be in the same vicinity, if not 2, 3 or even 5 feet away from those others he/she has just spoken to? How is this possible – especially if I am well-acquainted with that white person, with whom I am a co-worker or classmate? Sometimes I might be in a chit-chat conversation with some non person of color and this sort of thing would happen. I’m treated as though I was not present in the same room! Even my voice seems to become instantly inaudible to the white person who just spoke to everyone else. Professor, what irks me is that often, about a half hour to an hour or so later, that same white person will come back into the room (from which neither I nor the other people have left) and actually speak to me – to ask ME something or worse, ask me for something! Did that white man or white woman not see me the first time he/she came to the room? Or is it because my mutant ability to camouflage with the things around me e.g. walls, furniture – somehow kicked in without my knowledge and made me invisible to the eyes of that person? I need to know, Professor!
Professor X, I understand that this sort of thing happens to many people of color. Other persons of color and I talk about this sort of thing all the time! In fact, it was a close friend of mine who strongly urged me to write this letter. It’s a bit relieving to know that I am not the only one with this mutant ability and that there are indeed perhaps hundreds, if not thousands of other people of color with this same camouflage/invisible man-like ability. Perhaps you can also help me to understand why it is I only tend to become visible whenever some people of pale complexion and ignorance need or want something from me. During such instances the people who had before ignored or acted as though they didn’t see or hear me, now can’t seem to stay out of my face until they get what they want! Yet once I’ve accommodated whatever it is they needed or wanted, I’m once again made seemingly invisible. Once again I’m camouflaged with the walls and floors of the hallways, the soda and junk food machines in the lunchrooms as well as the tables and chairs there; in restrooms, and often with the walls, chairs and table in conference and classrooms settings. Don’t forget my strong voice is blended in with the sounds in the air as well whenever such people are around!
Perhaps those people possess a mutant ability of their own! Perhaps they can activate my mutant camouflage ability without my knowledge! Wow! Don’t you think that could be dangerous, Professor X? If this is true, wouldn’t such people be considered “evil mutants”? Anyway, this mutant camouflage/invisible man ability of mine is amazing but if I can’t control it or if others can activate/control it without my knowledge, then what’s the point of having it? I don’t know about those other people of color who have abilities similar to mine but for me, sir, when certain Caucasians ignore me at their selective convenience, it’s very annoying and frankly, disrespectful! I also don’t like, nor do I want – to be controlled by anyone else. I don’t believe I’m asking for any special attention here, Professor X but I’ve always been taught that when you walk into a room of people you know, it is polite to speak to everyone – even those you might not like. Don’t you agree, sir?
I’ve come to you for help, Professor X. I know you have helped hundreds of people with abilities such as mine as well as those born with certain generically natural abilities, such as high intelligence, nerdiness/geekness and even sexual orientation; traits which many in society still deem unnatural, abominable to their religion or deity and/or which they consider to be not “normal” – whatever the fuck “normal” happens to be! Pardon my language, sir. I’m just upset. I’ve often considered that with my seemingly uncontrollable mutant ability to blend in with my surroundings or become invisible, that perhaps, if I punched in the face the very person(s) who ignore me – you know, to help shake off their “selective handicap” of color-blindness and social ignorance, then perhaps such people would begin to actually see and hear me! Don’t worry Professor; I’m typically not a violent man and I’m old enough to realize that sucker-punching someone in the face – even someone whom I might suspect might be an evil mutant trying to control me, probably isn’t a good idea. I’m not trained to fight other mutants…yet. But even you have to admit sir, the idea is funny and doing such a thing will certainly draw some attention! I can just imagine the blood gushing from the nose of that person I just punch! The thought and image of such an action itself sexually arouses me! Ha! Ha! Ha! (It must be another suppressed mutant ability manifesting itself at this later stage of my life.)
Seriously Professor, if you can find a way for me to control or better yet, perhaps remove this strange mutant ability of mine to instantly camouflage with my surroundings (whenever certain white persons, possibly evil mutants come near me while I’m in the presence of other white persons), I’d greatly appreciate it. I’m well aware that the chances of removing any genetically traits with which I was born are slim to none but — I thought I’d ask for it anyway! Please contact me at a time suitable for you. My home and email addresses are enclosed.
Thank you for listening and understanding, Professor Xavier. Thank you for all the hard work you’ve done to help make the world more accepting of people who may be different or who may possess abilities different from others. Oh, and please pass my regards to the gang; that awesome team of X-Men, each of whom I’ve always greatly admired!
(aka preferred mutant code names: Camouflage or The Spook Who Sat by the Door)