A picture of two different black women.
Sometimes, when I hear the things people say to me, I wonder if this is my real, genuine black life, or the negro fantasy allotted to me in order to provide me with blog post material. Today, whilst minding my own melaninated business, as I often do, one of my brothers from across the ocean (somewhere in Asia) decided to conversate with me. He smiles at me. I give my best “Hey there, how are ya?” smile back.
His face lights up -“You look like Beyonce!” he says, eyes aglow.
For a moment, time stopped. I was trying to figure out if this man was deliberately trying to mock the life God had given me or if he was genuine in this frankly, ridiculous statement. I reflected for a brief moment. I, a dark skinned black women, fully clothed, with a black afro wig on, have some sort of striking similarity to Beyonce, a light skinned black woman, with a waist length straight blonde weave who frequently wears various bikini like garments when she performs. How was this possible? What was he seeing that I was not seeing? I mean there was this mixed race girl on Hollyoaks that someone once said I was the ‘dark skinned’ version of, but that made sense because our facial features were vaguely similar and we both wore the same glasses at the time. But Beyonce? How? Why? Was she just the first black woman he thought of? Was this his way of trying to break the ice?
Another doctor (who happened to also be black) piped up in his defence “Maybe more like Solange” she laughed…..”He doesn’t mean it badly, he’s just a bit insensitive”.
“I really can’t figure out how I look like Beyonce in any way..but I’ll take the compliment..” I replied. And smiled. (see, I am nice to people).
But the ignorance train continued to chug on, all the way to racial insensitivity station. “Where are you from?” he asked. Knowing where this was going, I internally sighed and then replied “Jamaica.” “Are you Rastafarian?” he asked. *insert black woman look of death*. “No. Rastafarians make up like 2% of the Jamaican population, they’re a minority group”. These conversations are such a regular part of my life, that I can’t even get angry anymore. They’re just funny. They’re just hilariously ridiculous. Bless his little cotton socks.
Let me break it down for those of you who are non-black and reading this blog. You might get confused about the different types of black people. You might not know your Beyonce from your Rihanna. Your Ashley Cole from your Barack Obama. Your Alicia Keys from your Leona Lewis. Your Leona Lewis from your Oprah Winfrey. Your Usher from your Pharrell. Your Tyra Banks from your Naomi Campbell. I personally don’t understand this, because out of any ‘race’ of people on the planet, ‘black’ people are probably the most diverse. Single out any Caribbean or African American person, and they’ll probably have at least 10% European blood, some other stuff thrown in, and as many skin shades in their family as gel pen colours in WHS Smith.
Even within Africa, without the extra spicy flavour of slave master that might have been added to the genetic mix, you get Somalians, who look completely different from Bantu people who look very different from Yoruba folk. Hence, we should be some of the easiest people on the whole of the EARTH to differentiate between. However, if you are having difficulty in this respect, I suggest that you refrain from making bold statements such as “You look like Obama”. Nope. Stop. Think. Does this person ACTUALLY look like Obama, or is he the most famous black man you can think of? If it’s the latter, just don’t say anything. Or just smile and say “How’s ya day been?”.
One small step for you. One giant step for race relations.
Have a blessed, racially diverse evening.