I thought I was racially ambiguous. At worst, folks wouldn’t be sure if I was white. At best, my pale skin would make me pass for white. I’ve had these deeply held prejudices against myself since I began.
When I was little, I would call my sister black and play white myself. I may have gotten a hiding for that one. Because race didn’t matter and what was the matter with me?! I grew up thinking one day my white parents would liberate me from racial no-mans land. Alas.
The reason I bring all this up, is that up until fairly recently I had convinced myself that I carried within me the cure for racism. I was white. Everyone can see it. I don’t even have the coloured accent – it’s something I deride as a mark of intelligence (or lack thereof).
So, yesterday, when I went to collect a script at my local pharmacy. The lady behind the counter smiled sweetly. Something she would never do if I was a person of colour. And then she pulled the rug out from under me: “And don’t drink out of the bottle,” she said referring to the cough syrup, “here, I’ll put a measuring spoon in for you.”
Deadpan. Just like that. Not even a hint of sarcasm. And I laughed conspiratorially. These blacks, my eyes pleaded! But look, I’m not like them. I’m white. I would never drink out of the bottle. Surely, you know that? Right? I’m one of us. Man, I hate myself.