Being The Minority

So the past couple of days have been an interesting experience to say the least. But let me not get ahead of myself.

Good morning/afternoon/evening (wherever you all are), this is the first time I am addressing you as a 16-year old Empress! How fantastic!

Anyways, now we’re done with that. So my family and I had a bit of a holiday this week; we didn’t go abroad, just to a small village, which I cannot name for obvious reasons which you will later discover. We stayed in a hotel, about a 5-minute drive away from the village centre (as in, probably their equivalent of a high-street or whatever) and so on the Monday afternoon, we get there and we check-in. Once we put all our cases and everything in our rooms, we go back downstairs so we can have dinner.

That was the first alarm bell. (We didn’t know it yet, but it slowly dawned on us). On the way through the lounge to the Restaurant, we got a lot of awfully odd looks; people were double-taking, some people were staring, and lots of people were doing that awkward ‘I’m-staring-but-if-you-look-at-me-I’ll-keep-eye-contact-for-about-5-more-seconds-until-it-becomes-uncomfortable-and-then-look-away-just-to-make-sure-you-saw-me-looking-at-you’ sorta thing. So naturally, as a family that is mostly unfazed, we ignore them.

We went back to our rooms after and got ready for bed. (Although myself and my little sister – who I have now decided to crown Princess – stayed up so she could post my birthday tribute on Instagram at midnight… and then I COULDN’T sleep because I was absolutely stunned by the intensity of raw beauty my friend posted of me also… But at any rate, we got to bed pretty late)

Then we woke up and went downstairs to have breakfast. That was the second alarm bell. The seating staff dude for the morning looked up at us from the desk and seemed a little startled. After he led us to the table, we all split to go and get our food, and more alarm bells started ringing. (Not literally, that’d be a little bit scary). People kept staring, we got even more weird looks, one guy was double-taking so much I’m pretty sure he got a headache.

By this point, I was pretty sick of all the looks, so whenever people looked at me, I’d give them the sickliest-sweet smile I could conjure up. And then they would blush embarrassed and turn away.

I thought it might get better, but NO. It only got worse.

Later in the day, we went into the village centre, to get some food and to just stroll around and explore, seeing as we were in this lovely, quaint little village and it was my birthday and it was like, well why not?

I’ll tell you why not.

Because it was like we were wild, exotic animals walking through a zoo of spectators. My sister, the Princess, and I stopped at a window-front display, and she looked at this teddy-bear she liked, and went, “Oh wow, Rianna look at how cute that is!” Then I heard a gasp.

‘How strange!’ I thought to myself. ‘Teyah doesn’t usually gasp…’ So I turned to her to ask her if she had gasped, and her face mirrored my expression of confusion. Which in itself answered my question. No she had not gasped.

In fact, the woman who HAD gasped was about 5 steps away from us, walking briskly down the road, and kept looking back over her shoulder at us with these wide-eyes. We couldn’t stop laughing.

Later, my mum and dad told me that they had had a similar experience; they were walking down the road and three little children in a car had pointed out the window at them in excitement – then their mother had also joined in with them.

What started off as irritating slowly became funny. We were walking to Tesco’s and two teenagers, a guy and a girl, came out of a shop; teenagers who looked like the ones, whom, in London, I would ordinarily avoid – just move out of the way for. They looked pretty intimidating. But they gave me one glance, and it was like their faces were streaked with terror, and the BOY, this intimidating looking boy, actually ended up in the road on an effort to move out of my way on the pavement.

Every shop we went into (because the shop’s were pretty tiny) the shopkeeper’s eyes would LITERALLY follow us around the whole way. When we bought stuff in Tesco’s and went to the self-checkout till, nearly every other shopper’s eyes watched us.

It was so strange.

But that wasn’t even the HIGHLIGHT of it all.

Because not only were we treated like an exhibition, we simultaneously got treated like we were invisible.

The final evening we were there, Wednesday evening, when we went down to dinner, we sat in a relatively accessible place. Like, there were quite a lot of other people sitting nearby. We had the staring spectacle of course (but what else could be expected at this point?) from a girl and her brothers? cousins? who all looked around our age.

But then – and this was the BEST part of all – a family, or perhaps a bunch of friends, came to sit near to us. They sat on the table next to us and ensued in very loud conversation. [Conversation which, if anything, only reinforced the fact that they were racist.]

The man, I assumed, was talking about his daughter. He looked about 60, with greying hair, and was talking animatedly about this woman; I figured it was his daughter or his wife, but it was more likely the former. Anyway, my mum and I only managed to jump into the conversation at the part where he started talking about her travelling and all her journeys around the world.

“And yes, one year she decided to go to India.” (It seemed that she was working abroad a lot, I think it was for her job as she was working for a bank or something? From what I gathered anyway…) “She said that her experience there was very interesting but,” at this point, he leaned in as if confiding a secret, “the only trouble was the flight… because of…” he paused for effect, chuckled, taking a sip from his long-stemmed glass of wine, “well, the Hindus.” At which point they all burst out into unabridged, racist crooning at his entirely UNFUNNY and OFFENSIVE joke. I mean, let’s just forget for a moment that what he said was offensive, basically saying the flight wasn’t enjoyable because of the Indian passengers on it, he is also assuming that EVERY INDIAN IS HINDU. Which they are not.

My mum and I looked at each other with wide open mouths. We were actually stunned that anyone could say that. But it got even better when he continued.

“She loves travelling abroad, but there’s always a language barrier for her. She can’t adjust well to the culture.” All things which suggested, my mum jokingly informed me, that perhaps she should stop travelling, because clearly if ‘Hindus’ were an issue on the plane flight, then how would she expect to fare in an entire country FULL of them?! “She could practically COUNT the number of British” (by British, he meant white) “people who were there as well!”

Boo hoo. I thought. That’s my life all the time. That’s my life RIGHT now. Wherever we go places, we can COUNT on one hand the number of black people. Why are you suddenly surprised by this? Oh that’s right; because except from when you travel, (and even then, it depends on where you go) you’re NEVER in the minority. I live my LIFE in the minority.

He went on.

“But when she came to England to work, she found it so much more enjoyable.” Of course she would, my mum added, surrounded in her own culture. “And her work was based in [location], which was great because she didn’t have to commute so much from where she stayed in [location]. She had a lovely little studio flat and a fantastic view.”

“But then they [her company business] relocated to Canary Wharf, and it became an absolute NIGHTMARE for her to commute.”

Oh no! My mum and I crooned. How hard it must be when your business relocates to the central hub of business in London (and also the world) and you have to TRAVEL in on public transport! Oh no! Such #FirstWorldProblems! All the people he was talking to sympathetically ‘awwwwwww’d and he nodded with a face of such sincerity that me and my mum started laughing again.

“So, is she permanently employed then?” One of the women sitting with him directed the question at him. He shook his head with such conviction.

“No, not really. She is partially on the work force, but if they start chopping jobs and sacking people, then she could lose her job.” At which point, I had to shake MY head sympathetically.

I’ve got two words for you, Mr. Racist Wine-Drinker: White. Privilege.

Your daughter would not be one of the first to be unemployed, especially considering the fact that she is the one constantly travelling the world for her company (she also went to Singapore, some countries in Europe, and has been to Australia so much that she has a flat out there) and not to mention the fact that you CLEARLY come from old-money; so regardless of whether she is kept or sacked (and most likely, the FORMER), she has pretty much worked her life away for this company (he never mentioned any partner, or kids of hers) so she is sitting pretty for the rest of her life.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I present to you, the plight of a black family in a small village in England. That was the reason we got so many stares from people. Because we were perhaps the only black people that some of them had ever seen. That was why we got gasped at, and pointed at, and stared at, and talked about, and ignored, and watched, and followed.

Because we were black. Now, if you know me, I totally hate using the race card, but this is one situation where it actually does apply.

The small-mindedness and ignorance (and in some situations, racism) of these people actually astounded me. I mean, I’m not stupid, I know racism exists – I live my life at the receiving end of it – but I didn’t realise how condensed it was in certain areas, and how concentrated those areas were.

But that’s my little rant for this morning. A bit early for me but, ah well. Have a good morning/afternoon/evening everyone,

Empress Rianna


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