28 August, 2008

OPEN YOUR MIND

As immigrants in New Jersey my sister and I were the only black kids in our school and everyone was curious and wanted to be friends with the African girls.

I remember an occasion where I met a kid at the playground, I had never seen him before, he just kept staring at me till I spoke to him. He asked if he could touch me, he touched me and looked at his hand then exclaimed with surprise that my color didn't come off. He then asked me if we lived in trees in Africa.

He went down like a full sack at my punch.

I was defending Africa!!!

Parents of both parties were asked to come to school, the term racism was used, I didn't understand it, all I knew was that he insulted me and I beat him up. He was made to apologise.

Fast forward several years.

A young lady in London, on my first trip outside the country alone and an adult. Standing at the bus stop I saw a white girl. I had white neighbors back home but I had never seen anyone so white in my life. She was paper white and looked translucent with extremely black hair, ultra high boots with spikes on them, lips and nails painted black. She had piercings all over her face and lips. She had on a black tee-shirt and jeans. The tee-shirt had the image of a skull on it. I couldn't look away, I kept staring, fortunately it was a couple of years before all the street stabbings.

She said hi, I actually jumped, then replied. She told me her name was Amanda, I wondered how she could have such an ordinary name.I also wondered if I was the only one seeing her, maybe she was a ghost…she sure looked like someone from the Adams family.

She said she liked my necklace, I asked her what she did to make her skin so white, she laughed and asked if I wanted to feel her. I touched her…I expected her to be icy cold but she was as warm as I was.

Her bus came and we waved goodbye. Years later I still wish I got her number.

I later learnt she was/is a goth.

For the first time in my life I understood the question the little boy asked me. He wasn't insulting me or being racist… Racism was an adult term to just wanting to know. He just wanted to know!

Amazing what you learn when you open your mind!

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