Yesterday's posting reminded me that one of the things I've really regretted in life is that I've never had a black friend, or even known a black family.
I'm sure some people will think this all very non-PC, but tant pis;
it's the truth.
I was brought up in leafy Surrey (just south of London), where there were no black people. I went to a series of all white schools, I worked in bizarrely all white jobs, and then when I was 25 I moved to a 99.9% white area of S W France. My path has never crossed that white line.
I have no idea what I would have learned from any such friendship, maybe nothing; but it would have been interesting to have discovered that for myself. I like to think that any contrast in our exterior appearances would not have made the slightest difference to a friendship, because that's how I view things without having had the actual experience.
In aprox 1973 I was standing on Toulouse Railway Station with my 4/5 year old son Kimbo, waiting for the Paris train, when he suddenly pointed and said loudly "Look daddy, a black man!". I turned to my right and there was this big guy standing beside me, who replied in a booming American accent."ME BLACK MAN". I apologised and explained to him that we lived way out in the country, and that my son had never before seen anyone with dark skin; we ended-up both having a good laugh. Now there was a guy I'd liked to have been friends with.
If this upsets anyone, I do NOT apologise.
Wow. I can't imagine not knowing any black people. My high school class was 75% black....white kids were the minority. My current boss is a black woman. I work with several black people, and have had lots of black friends in my life. In fact, my very first best school friend was a little black girl named Faith. I still wonder what happened to her (we lost touch after grade school).ReplyDelete
Of course, this part of the world has had more than it's share of racial tensions. But on average I think that race relations here are much more positive than the media would have you believe.
Having spent my life in rural West Cumbria, there aren't many coloured people here, a few doctors and Asian market traders, I've never had a black friend either.ReplyDelete
My 2 years exile, living in Manchester was an education, some areas seem predominantly black, in my experience, they do tend to prefer their own company.
Cro it is never too late in life to cross that white line. The school I teach in comprises 30% indigenous students of the many aboriginal mobs and Torres Strait Islands. And then we have Sudanese, Nepalese and Bhutanese refugees. We have Nuiginian, Cook Islanders, Maoris and Filipino. We have Chinese, Japanese and Korean. And then we have international students from Italy and Germany. It is the best school I have ever taught in. The students all mix well, respect each other and are HAPPY.ReplyDelete
I wonder what you consider black - in my school were several girls of Indian or Sri Lankan descent. In fact I remember one coming to see me while we still lived in Surrey. You opened the door to her and promptly shut it.ReplyDelete
I had never thought of her as being any different to the rest of us.
I also wonder whether you consider Maori to be black. I have many Maori or part Maori friends in fact the new man in my life is part Maori, part Irish, part Welsh and part English, some combination!!!!
I had a very good Indian friend at school. No, I was really thinking of Afro/Caribbean black, although I recently read somewhere that the Chinese in S Africa are now officially classified as 'black'.Delete
I am sure woe kindly black blog reader will adopt you CroReplyDelete
My mother..in her 90's and deaf said in a very loud whisper " not many white faces in here are there? " while in the doc's waiting room ( in Leicester) !!ReplyDelete
I am lucky to have a black friend and neighbour. Being born in Nottingham she's as English as I am and I absolutely forget that she is black. Only occasionally we are reminded of her origins, when her family visit and we have a wonderful blend of foods from our countries.ReplyDelete
Her mum once brought a delicious goat curry and I was dying to know where you could get goat meat round here. Her mum said only from a black butcher in Nottingham!
The best curried Goat I've ever eaten was in The Cayman Islands at 'Welly's Cool Spot'.Delete
I thought you had a mate who played with a famous reggae band?ReplyDelete
These are really friends of my friend, the writer John Masouri, although they are friends on Facebook.Delete
Oh well, at least some of the black rubbed off.Delete
It's white friends I am running out of here!ReplyDelete
I thought that might be the case!Delete
It's an age thing. When I was young I didn't see any black people unless we went to London and in Brighton the only one I ever saw was Prince Honalulu up at the Brighton Race Course, if I recall correctly he was always shouting 'I got a horse' and was in traditional dress with feathers in his hair. Other than that the only other ethnic person was a chinese man who wotked in the laundry.ReplyDelete
My children all mixed with different races and often brought them home, we got to know lots of Indian and black youngsters, all very nice kids.
I remember Prince Honalulu too. He used to come to Lingfield races when I was small. Always shouting the same thing.Delete
I don't really see what you have to apologize for. I believe I went through public and secondary school without meeting anyone who wasn't lily white....it wasn't until my last employment that there was some mixing. I never really thought about it until now. Perhaps I'm colour blind.ReplyDelete
I was brought up in a small, predominantly white town. There were several black families, but none lived in my neighbourhood or close enough to it so that we could play together outside school. One black family lived three streets over, which was too far for me to go by myself when i was 5, and by the time i could go to their house, they had moved to a better neighbourhood.ReplyDelete
The second black family moved in a few years later, closer to my house. Their son was a few years younger than i was, so we weren't playmates, but my younger male cousin loved to play sports and ride bikes and welcomed Stevie warmly, as he loved the same things. Stevie's parents were a bit nervous about moving into an all-white neighbourhood.
My mother told them there was nothing to worry about. We had English, French (they fought in French, which is how we kids learned to swear in French), Italian (Mr. L swore in Italian, so we learned how to swear in Italian, too), Irish, Russian, Czech, and Polish. Many were first generation, some were second.
It was a wonderful place to grow up, because everyone had come from a different place.
I love our community centre. When they do a fund raiser the food if from around the globe and it is all from the houses in the area. there is nothing like it. And every one helps everyone.ReplyDelete
Although when the Mela was on, I was a bit peed off that I couldn't put my washing out for 3 days due to the cooking out doors of so much onion and spices that my clothes would have stank.
on a positive note, there are 2 roads here where I can get pretty much ay type of food I wanted. and if you ask what to do with yams they will fight over you to give you their mothers recipe.
We could do a house swap Cro. one of those exchange things. The Mela is in July and the Carribbean festival is in August.
I much prefer living here than in London. Everyone mixes more.
Never really had any black friends until my husband was in the army, had several then and since, but as they were middle class like us the only thing different was their skin color.ReplyDelete
I love people whatever shades we are.ReplyDelete
That sounds Shakespearean.Delete
May I give you our President? Take him. PleeeezeReplyDelete
I went to college and lived much of my twenty something life in an urban setting where folks of middle eastern descent, Greeks and African Americans made up at least half of the population. Now we live in a rural area where our largest ethnic group is Native American at about 10%. It is the one thing I miss about the city and a regret i have about my kids are growing up in an isolated place.ReplyDelete
I remember when I taught in Brent, my class was a good mix of Indian, black, S. Asian, & white children. I the, moved to a middle class area near Milton Keynes, but kept links with my former school. My new class went to visit the other school, and on the way, as we passed through the outskirts of north wast London, one little girl was muttering under her breath "one..two..three" I asked what she was counting, and she said "Black faces...my dad said I'd see hundreds of them!"ReplyDelete
Sigh. Well, we had a good day, and yes, she DID see hundreds!