I was having a Southbank lunch with one of my besties the other day when he told me that he had asked a mixed race person where they were from and they had given him one whole look. He didn’t understand it as he meant where do you live but of course they had assumed it was THE QUESTION
So this got me thinking to how The Olympics sold England as this multicultural haven where everyone gets along and sees themselves as British. Idealistic? Perhaps. Realistic? No. Because as we know ignorance doesn’t disappear just because you spent a few million on some fireworks and dancers. I’ve had two Olympic incidents so far.
The Milk Man
I was in my local Tescos for some milk. OK I was really in there for Haribos and a twix but I was claiming the lactose free milk as a reason for wondering in. I picked up one which had 4th September on it. A guy, who was on the phone stopped his conversation and started telling me that I should reach the back of the fridge as they were fresher. I thanked him and said that it didn’t matter as this would be done in 3 days.
He followed me to the till. He got off the phone and explained again about the freshness of milk like I really didn’t understand the concept. I repeated that I wasn’t bothered but thanked him for his concern. I edged forwards in the queue. Then he ruined it
Milk Man: Where are you from?
Me: I live down the road
Milk Man: No! Where are you from originally!!
Me: South Africa
Milk Man: [sagely] The crime capital of the world
Me: Yes that’s our claim to fame
Milk Man: [sarcasm wasted] Really?
Me: Well we have to have something to be proud of right?
Milk Man: Nelson Mandela
Me: *Tight smile*
Milk Man: Did you see Mo Farah win the gold? He’s from Africa.
And finally I hear the words I long for “next please!”
This is the problem with nationalism. Suddenly strangers feel the need to talk to you and ask you personal questions just because of sports. I really wish they wouldn’t.
But worse some British people see it as an opportunity to remind you that you’re really not British no matter how loud you cheer. And that their knowledge of places outside of Britain extends to parts of Europe, possibly.
So be warned my precious. You will have to put up with a lot of ignorance now that strangers feel the need to engage.
© Chelsea Black