I’m very lucky to have grown up in an affluent area of London, but because of this I don’t have very many black friends. However, I am a lot of people’s only black friend. I love my friends, and I am a great friend, but I am also an ambassador to the ‘I’m not racist because I have a black friend’ statement – a big responsibility that I’ve been appointed involuntary.
I’m mixed race, with bouncy curls that hang around my head like a lion’s mane, chubby thighs to match my baby face, and a butt decorated in stretch marks. I’m very much a human being, not a cookie. When you tell me that I am, that I’m an ‘oreo’, or that I’m ‘white on the inside’, I don’t take this as a compliment. Far from it; being white is not something I strive for. And it doesn’t matter how ‘white’ you think I am, I still face the discrimination associated with being black.
Recently, as I lay on that squidgy bed at my lash appointment, speaking with my technician, a newfound friend, the dreaded comment was made. ‘But you don’t talk like a black person’. For the first time, I decided to explore this comment; to get into the nitty gritty and find out what it actually means to a white person. I assume that to make this statement, there must be some misguided hierarchy held at the back of her mind. In making this comment, she suggested that she generally considers black people to be uneducated – an erroneous and dangerous prejudice.
I am pretty sure, in fact 100% certain, that all of my black friends have been told that they talk like a white person at some point in their life. This is a comment I regularly receive – I couldn’t tell you the amount of times, because I’ve lost count. When will comments like this stop being made?
A lot of us continuing to find ourselves in white-dominated spaces are fighting to belong, but are never able to. We strive to be accepted, but accepted in our skin, our black skin. Racism has plagued mankind through the centuries; when will the moral compass be reset? When will the shackles of history be cast off? When will we move forward into a new era where your colour has no correlation to your worth?
As they say; “mankind is a single nation”.
Words by Persephone Quarme, image Savage x Fenty