Answer on a postcard

7am. I’m
outside on the balcony to watch the sun rise and reflect on the week.  In a few hours I’ll be gone. My legs are  stretched   on the
cushion of a wrought iron chair while I’m sat on another. I’m  looking over  manicured lawns peppered with palm trees and  connifer  towards the silent
morning sea and all is peaceful. The apartment is tidy and at twelve noon we’ll
be in the car showered and ready for an easy journey back to Hackney,  London were the view is equally as good.

I was on
the beach yesterday with the journalist which is why it’s  swilling around
in my head  this morning. “Rise up this
morning with the waves in my head” sounds like a blues song. -Ish.  The Journalist and
I were the only black peeps on the beach which 
is cool ‘cept for the constant irritated 
twitching  around us.  On the other side of the sea is morrocco, Africa. 

Like most
people I know I have many white friends and have heard their  story on numerous occasions about the time
they where the only white person in a place  full of black people. The story goes
thus    “and I was the only one…..”.  It’s a revelation, an event a source of
wonderment. They will often go on to say how uncomfortable they felt or how
included they felt – either way they are so shocked at the event that  it has
seared into the memory and  gained almost mythical status.

friend has made no connection  that the
actual scenario he or she is communicating is replicated before their very eyes
in reverse. I am the only one. Somehow the other (W) people in the
group are invisible to this most illuminating revelation. The friend continues
describing the fear, the wonder of the one fleeting experience of
being minority. In the company of white people I do not feel those things.  I 
long long ago chose not to either reflect or consume what is 
negative behaviour based on race.  This
does not mean to say that I don’t notice or note the behaviour  and its subsequent  consequences.

As they
talk of the fear and or child like exitement of being the only one in, say, a
club or a bar –  it is not often  “I was the only one in the university..” or “I was
the only one at the conference” –   more often
than not, more insulting though, this story of their experience  has occurred as a direct  
interruption/perceived embellishment, to  my attempt in helping them understand
what it is like. Astounding!

I needn’t
qualify this by saying that I have many white friends nor that I understand
that not all white people are like this, but I use generalisation because it is
generally true.  There are exceptions to
the rule but as a rule they are few and far between as to be virtually
invisible.  I should qualify
generalisation. I have in my life time met thousands upon thousands of white
people.  What is plain wrong
and indeed racially devisive is when someone develops an opinion about another
race as a generalisation without any form of substantial evidence.  

attitude is not particular to any race, though I am using my
experience as example. If there is one thing about racism,  it is one of the  (learned) behaviours that unites the world – every race I have met is poisoned by it.
To beat racism it has to be unlearned. That racism is a virus of the subconscious  means  the perpetrator must trust the
persecuted to outline  both its effect
and its cause. This rarely, in any race, happens. That racism is subconscious
is exemplified in the “I’m not racist but I am sorry my father is”.  Happens every generation in corrolation to societies general view on race..Neither reflect nor consume it, I tell myself,  but register it all the same.

small magazine “The Smuggler” in an internet café in Oliva, the village where I m staying  has  a big
spoof article on the use of the N-word. Apparently, and here’s the joke,
“Parlaiment has passed a law banning the use of the N word”. That's the headline. The article laps up the subject matter like a dog anothers piss stain, it continues “apparently the Negro and Negresse can use the word Nigger to each other but
white people can’t and if they do…”. It goes on and on and on repeating  the word “nigger” with relish.  I suppsoe in their eyes i am the negro and the journalist the negresse. Next to it there's an advert for a local  English  carpenter or an English speaking  dentist or a doctor or a
hairdresser- services that The Journalist or myself may need at some point. Welcome to Coast of Sun (costa del Sol)

Let me make something clear. I had a great time, a great holiday with great people. I had fun fun fun, big laughs and beautiful sunshine. The beach was terrific, the sea gorgeous. Sun sets and sun rise were idyllic. The food we ate and we cooked was gorgeous.  But make no mistake, the ex pat community of The Costa Del Sol is racist and it's dark, that I choose to ignore it, could you may say diminish its power. But it doesn't, it just doesn't, you know it and I know it. Answers, on a postcard…. I love Hackney. I love the world.



4 thoughts on “Answer on a postcard

  1. postcard from mancunia…
    hey lemn
    a quote from nelson mandela comes to mind….
    No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
    Seems to me like there's too much learning and not enough teaching……
    Anyway – hope you got a good tan mate 🙂
    Liz Sharpley

  2. Lemn
    I saw you reading at Latitude festival and I was blown away.
    I feel as if people at large, I include myself in this, are incredibly selfish or self centred. Rather than actually listening to what you are saying, they try to in some vain way to feel as though they too have experienced it, almost as if it's a game of one-upmanship. This happens daily because most people cannot or will not listen selflessly. The danger posed by accepted day to day racism, whether in jokes or supposed off the cuff remarks frightens me, as it seems to be getting worse not better. I cannot say I am completely faultless, I find myself drawn into media bigotry and claims, but what I am trying to say is 'Thanks Lemn' for making me think a lot more.

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