You’re very articulate for a Tongan, did you know that?

This kind of thing used to make me indiscriminately angry, despite the half-melted nuggets of a compliment being present in this god-damned biscuit of a sentence.

My “white” half gets pretty insulted too, seeing as it’s invisible most of the time. And no, this isn’t some sort of veiled complaint about how my feet are dead-person pale because I don’t go barefoot in the sun often enough. No, that’s not it, home-skeez. The fact is, according to a lot of people, if you’re a little bit coloured, then you’re a whole lot coloured.
My favourite example of this is Barack Obama. I mean, most of us know he has a so-called white parent, but that gets in the way when one wants to emphasise how progressive the world now is for having a black president all up in its guts.
Of course I understand how momentous that is, due to caring about Civil Rights problems and believing that everyone deserves a fair go in life. But I don’t like score-keeping and vague definitions of character.

OK, so I still get all pissy about it. I thought I grew out of it, but… …nah. This means I have to go deeper. Screw it, I’m game.

I’ve had something of a larger-than-average vocabulary for as long as I can remember, so, a while ago, I decided to ask who was responsible: my mother. And she ended up telling me what I thought she would, something like, “I imagined my two brown babies having nothing to say in a room full of smart whites, and it made me cry.” That kind of fear is very real, even though it may seem a bit melodramatic. That fear will drive a woman to teach her kids to read before kindergarten. It’ll make her massively angry when her brown babies are made to feel blue. It’ll make her beg them to make sunshine of her struggle.

And, sadly, it’ll hang a yoke around my neck that I don’t deserve.

As up-myself as it may sound, I generally feel like I’m representing something that’s marginalised, and I think that’s because I inhabit a lot of grey (or beige?) areas. I’m a tiny ambassador, I guess. If I’m not taking the left-hand path (HELLO SATAN), then I’m trying to wend my way through the middle. It’s kinda difficult when I get a lot of, “What… are you doing here?!”, but at least that gives me an opportunity to tell someone exactly why.

And god damn it if it doesn’t feel good to drop some knowledge on some motherfuckers.

BUT

they are not all motherfuckers. If I’m all about both halves of myself, then I have to admit that it’s nobody’s actual fault that stereotypes exist and get fulfilled more often than they perhaps should, and I also need to remind myself that there are other races far more marginalised than the ones my body contains. It’s no good to snap at someone because you hand-picked a few words to focus on, and it sure is silly to be the person who invites the US VERSUS THEM vibe into the room (guilty as charged), so it’s good to try my favourite thing instead: disarming, simplistic honesty.

“You’re kinda smart for an Islander.”
“Thank you! I’m clever and brown. I’m also female and prone to fainting spells. This is a conversation; you’re having one with me! Discuss.”

P.S.: Tongans call me white/palangi/hinehina all the time too, so, yeah, it cuts both ways. But I don’t usually get angry when there’s food involved, no matter who you are. You can call me whatever you want when I’m eating your chicken.
; )

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