Young and black in Babylondon: part deux

“I’m sorry, did you say you worked for the…?”

An arched eyebrow, a quizzical look, a quick reappraisal of the dreadlocks, the accent (could she be American? perhaps Welsh?), the attitude, the general foreign-ness.

“Oh! Well!”

And so on, and such like.

It’s not that I’m the only black person in the building, at these conferences I attend, or the events I often cover. It’s just that I’m often the only one not waiting tables, or collecting coats, or generally clearing up the detritus of the Establishment.

Surprise surprise, for I am unaccountably articulate, and bright and clean, and I work in the very heart of a City where “diversity” does not quite look like me.

“So are you going home to Jamaica for the holiday?”

“I’ve never been to Jamaica, but I am looking forward to going back to Trinidad.”

Smile brightly, look them right in the eye.

“So, what do you speak in the Caribbean? African?”

But sometimes you have to blink.



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  • mar

    I real like this.
    For me it was a lil different, i have the same middle-class upbringing, the same circle of friends who not quite one or the other, and those that are just one, are firmly set in class. But like you, I too had to face the aspect of “blackness”, how it relates to me and how I relate to it. Walter Rodney, maybe in “Groundings with my Brothers” said that Rastafari addressed the issue of who you are and where you stand in relation to blackness. And this, like the question of your Martiniquan friend, has stayed with me.
    You ever read any Fanon?

  • mar

    I real like this.
    For me it was a lil different, i have the same middle-class upbringing, the same circle of friends who not quite one or the other, and those that are just one, are firmly set in class. But like you, I too had to face the aspect of “blackness”, how it relates to me and how I relate to it. Walter Rodney, maybe in “Groundings with my Brothers” said that Rastafari addressed the issue of who you are and where you stand in relation to blackness. And this, like the question of your Martiniquan friend, has stayed with me.
    You ever read any Fanon?

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  • http://theliminghouse.org sinistra

    mar – I’ve only encountered Fanon via Lovelace, whose essays I’ve been absorbing this week. I’m still working out who I am and I where I stand in relation to blackness, as you said – but that is the subject of upcoming posts…

  • http://theliminghouse.org sinistra

    mar – I’ve only encountered Fanon via Lovelace, whose essays I’ve been absorbing this week. I’m still working out who I am and I where I stand in relation to blackness, as you said – but that is the subject of upcoming posts…