You of the light olive-skinned! Listen! It doesn’t matter if they see you as white, if everyone always just sees you as a white lady.
None of this matters.
Your heritage, your connection to multi-cultural and multi-ethnic roots makes you non-white. And that makes all the difference. You ARE inherently white, brown, pacific islander, chinese. (Add yours here_____________).
These heritages are your complexity, and your reality.
You see them in your very own face and body, every day in the mirror, the dark eyes, the brown skin - the hair and black lashes of your father, and his mother, and her mama. The long, almost flat feet, the broad stretch of your shoulders, muscular legs, brown knees and wrists. And more, you feel it deeply in your person, and you can’t explain why. You just know.
Like knowing how to dance, it’s just there in you - a hum.
And because you see them in you, you in turn look out into the world through these lenses. You sit in many camps, on fences, straddled across bridges and realities, rules and assumptions.
Sometimes you lament, that you are not brown enough for others. They do not recognise you and they will not know you - you have at times been another white lady to be mocked. But you know too that it’s more likely, in your four decades now of being here - to find that you are not brown enough to make white people shut their mouths. And so instead of checking themselves, they open up and tell you directly about the failings, inadequacies and flaws of pacific islanders, of maori, of chinese. They tell you that you are stupid, drunken, careless, and lazy.
You know now that you can’t go on holidays to the resorts in Fiji, the beautiful manicured white-stoned paradises, and not see the experience, the DILEMMA, played out in front of you except through your lenses.
The affluent entitled white parents, so exhausted by life they dispatch their nappied little darling into the care of the Fijian mother for the day - they lie on loungers, in peace - finally - while she holds this pale little hand and helps the babe totter about in the shallows. She is pregnant, not her first, and she is tired by the hot sun. They marvel at the skill of the Fijian mama, the way the islanders love children. They mean this as a compliment.
(We did not know you loved! We thought you were savage!)
A holiday concept that you now know to be distinctly white, distinctly privileged, and so very very strange. These scenes stay with you, the white lady in the gold g-string bikini on all fours across her sun lounger, setting out napkins for her children, while a fully-dressed Fijian man in a wide-brimmed sunhat and resort uniform, sits down beside her – a feast of sandwiches and hot chips perched carefully on his shoulder. You can’t not look at this image (her white and pink bottom), and not let it burn into your brain. You alone of all the loungers – comprehend the affront this presents the man. And yet here you are, fretting for him in your own padded luxury. What an hypocrite you are here on the fence like this, poolside in the palace of white dreams.
But he has no time for your wringing. He simply turns his head away, dispatches the feast into ready little hands, says “Bula!” and moves on.
If only you could too, mixed up lady.
Quote of the day:
Smallest person in the car, upon preparing to open a packet of tic-tacs:
"I’ll just tuck away my values."
"Please don’t ever do that."