Saturday, July 20, 2019

My Skin Is Black: On Africans and Black People from the US, Britain, and Elsewhere

Jay Z lyrics are from The Story of OJ (4:44, July 2017). The background picture is from Beyoncé and Jay Z's On The Run II tour in Paris.
A few weeks ago, someone came to our flat to fix a toilet leak. While kneeling by the toilet to diagnose the leak, he looked up at me and asked twice "are you sure nobody has been standing on the toilet seat?". I thought it was funny and laughed it off both times. "Of course nobody has been standing on the toilet seat".

Shortly after he left, I started to think that was a weird question. Then I realized it may have been racist. After all, he likely wouldn't ask a white family if they had been standing on their toilet seat. I told Busola about it later that evening and we discussed how slow I had been to recognize his racism. I also told a few friends who had moved to Europe over the past few years, and they were like "oh that was racist. Mschew*. Next time respond like this..."

Then I told a Black British acquaintance, and he was livid! He got so pissed and went on about how it was really bad behavior. I was intrigued by his response, so I told another Black British acquaintance. The second response was even more volatile. He took his annoyance one step further by getting upset with me for not detecting the racism and calling it out.