Just like the hermeneutic paradigms around sexes – women as objects for the male subject, so are racism a paradigm that everyone knows about, but only the coloured really knows about. Just like almost every woman can tell a tale about being objectified as a sexobject, rather than a person. (Not that this can’t be good! – This note is not to discuss the value, only the experience). Every coloured person living in a pre-dominant white society, can tell a tale about racism.
A thing that happened to me (again) yesterday, made me think of all this and made me decide to share my thoughts on this.. rather peculiar subject.
And what happened, might you ask. The scene: A coffee shop in Copenhagen. Me with an old friend, we’re going to catch the new 007 movie, but having a talk and a latte before moviestart. In a respond to a discussion about the racial clima in Denmark, I answer my friend, that me and other ‘wrong-coloured’ people do feel the political shift that happened some eight years ago in Denmark with the Fogh government – he kind of exploded in my face. ‘I hope you didn’t call yourself ‘wrong -coloured’. You’re as danish as me’ (actually this expression does sound better in danish: ‘fejlfarver’, as one of the few words). And he looked grimly at me, as I had just called him hill-billy-white-trash-I-want-to-kick-your-as*.
I experienced this reaction before, amongst friends. Not everybody gets, that it is a very sarcastic – but also – in some sense – a necessary way of speaking about these things. It’s partly about making jokes on the whole ‘racial’ thing, but partly also about taking the power back from the words. Just as hardcore women in rap culture, calls themselves bitches and take away the power from the word ‘bitch’, uttered by misogynist men. We – the ‘wrong coloured’ danes – take away the power of words uttered by the racist danes.
I tried to explain it, but he just couldn’t get pass the words and my upbringing. (Which Im sure, many of you, who might read this, won’t understand either). So basically – He didn’t get it at all – and I stopped trying to explain. In a way this is sad, as it is in the small – face to face – situations that you actually can make a difference in peoples understanding. But at the same time.. I had this discussion before and funny enough – almost all my ‘bi-racial’ or fellow ‘bananas’ and ‘coconuts’ friends get it.
But people in the majority who thinks of themselves as non-racial, really have a hard time understand, that, you (their friend), will use theese expressions. And some maybe, like my other friend, won’t accept for a minute, that you even talk about racism.
It was oblivious my friend thought, that I was talking trash about my race, about all races but Caucasian. And that would (of course) be a shame, if he was right. But of course I don’t trash talk my race – hey we’re an absolutely stunning race, the Asians!
But with the terms of being ‘a banana’, you do get the right to make funny remarks about everyone’s race – being a walking (perceived cultural and racial) contradiction gives you this right.
And btw. It’s not a banana; it’s a banana-split!