I am black. I’m middle class, private school educated. I’m first language english-speaking. Some might venture to call me a coconut, many have dared to comment on my preference of men. Men think they have the right to comment on my attitudes. Women think they have the right to correct the style in which I dress. All of these things have nothing to do with me as a person, but everything to do with me as black.
Coconut. I see the whole black on the outside white on the inside reference but I don’t understand it. I am not dusty brown and hairy on the outside and white on the inside. I’m flesh on the inside, just like every other human being in the entire world. ‘Being’, or ‘tying to be white’ is a statement that does not make sense to me. White is a name that we call a skin tone, white is a colour, white is a shade, a measure of melanin. . I’m black, a name that I call my skin tone, that people have named my shade and measure of melanin. How on earth would I even begin to try and be white. Even Michael Jackson struggled.
Men. Ever since I grew breasts people have been telling me what I like. Black guys telling me that I only date white guys. White guys telling me that I only like black guys. Black women insinuating that I only like rich guys, white women complaining that I only want their guys. Does my black skin wear a sign that says ignore my personality?
Almost 3 years ago I met an incredible guy. A handsome, funny, clever, respectful, informed, interested guy. He asked me my name and I looked at him through your eyes. Eyes that showed me a white foreigner looking for ‘ The Real African Experience.’ It took me weeks, months to wipe the milky layers out of my eyes and see clearly that this white man wanted to learn how to fall in love with me.
I know that there are many unhealthy situations in the world. Beautiful, young black women with hideous, old white, foreign men. I know that there are paid arrangements, sex arrangements and previously arranged arrangements. I know this. I have seen this. It happens all over the world actually. It also happens the other way around. Older white women with black men. Google sex tourism, I suppose it is a kind of extension of that.
So how is it that when I hold my lover’s hand, laugh at his lame jokes, steal his Spur chips, finish the left behind chicken on his chicken bones ( white people don’t know how to eat chicken), you still look at me through your milky eyes? You look at me through outdated stereotypes, through faulted, miscalculated, preconceived misconceptions. Rub away the milky layers. See change. Allow yourself to understand that my choices are personal, which means individual to me. My skin is a colour, a genetic mix of tones and shades. It does not build or bind my mind. I do not want things or like things or love things because my skin is black, I want things, like thing, love things AND my skin is black.
The way that I love, the way that I talk, the way that I dance or shout, slap my leg when I laugh, the way I kiss or swim, eat chicken, ( well ok, maybe the chicken thing is true) has nothing to do with my skin and everything to do with my personality, upbringing, community and lifestyle.
I am was adopted at a week old, I have a family that is half Afrikaans half South African English I went to a private school in which my skin colour was always part of a minority group. I studied in an institution that was ridiculed overseas for calling itself South African when it only had one black person in the company. I now find myself head over heels in love with a white man .
My life is not better or worse, it is just different to what you are used to. Make your eyes wide. Take it all in, by allowing yourself to see and recognise your reality, you break out of the stereotypes that bind you. Some of you might be quietly and maybe even unknowingly racist, some classist, some of you, old fashioned and most of you probably tainted by television, the western world, America and what is shown as correct. Don’t be afraid to break your bonds. I’m breaking mine everyday. I am the future of your world, people like me are paving the road towards a system that many who came before us fought for but never had. Do not judge me because my name is Zulu and yet I am not, do not feel sorry for me because my parents are white and I am not, do not assume the worst because my white boyfriend is foreign and I am not.
Be proud to know that you are a part of a revolution in which rules change and barriers are broken. Be proud to see, be proud to know. This is the future, walk with me, there is nowhere else to go.