white n black
Somebody reacted with anger when I said that I am black inside, white outside. The person was white and said I was living in a dreamworld - that I was a privileged whiteman which meant life was weighted to my advantage. I agreed to the last point, but that didn’t change what I had said. We are all one thing inside, another outside, and particularly these days when few of us live where we grew up. We may be a city kid living in the countryside or vice-versa.
What I had meant was that my base world view was set by childhood friends from a noble tribe in Kenya. The person, who knows nothing of my childhood, laughed again, saying I was a whiteman fooling at that. Unlike most whites, we were impoverished because my mother worked as a very poorly paid teacher deep in the countryside. Shunned by other whites, because divorce, particularly when prompted by a woman, was despised, my friends were of the local tribe.
Our city tribe, or our country one, infect us with their values and playing with those extraordinary folk, sharing their preindustrial lives, I absorbed their attitudes when I wasn’t at school. Theirs, rather than white codes, inspired my core outlook. That I had, before my mother divorced my very wealthy father, been entirely looked after by my black nanny and house staff, further instilled in me a non-colonial, tribal morality.
City kids are streetwise, but having no streets to be wise about, country children are influenced by hedgerows and streams. Nature, very alive beyond the urban swirl, is virtually non existent in the town, so new human centric laws govern the way young people behave there.
As teenagers, we change dramatically and are driven to engage with the most influential groups surrounding us. In my teens my mother was promoted so we could afford to move from the tribe and lived amongst whites. No matter how hard I tried to fit in, I was continually at odds with my colonial compatriots, this eventually turned me and I became one of them. Until something dramatic woke me. Yup, I was woke in 1969.
Who we are makes us react to our environment in different ways. City people can adore nature more than country folk, and, of course, vice-versa.
“Yawn. That’s so obvious!” You will tell me.
OK, but a highly intelligent man I respect and like says, “We are all the same, be we rich or black, poor or white, cultured or uneducated.”
This implies that we thus must, at base, see the world in the same way, which I have always contested. I am not you and you do not react as I do. OK, we each want the same basic things - security, comfort, love, an entertaining existence and mental stimulation. These last two is where the problem lies. What entertains you may upset me, what stimulates me may dull you.
And, of course, had we not had much love in our infancy, we’d be insecure and insecurity, as has Trump showed the world, is an unsettling force. And it gets even more complex. My tribe, for example, found security in fighting their aggressors, so they initiated battles to stop the aggressors attacking. This gave them sufficient comfort to expand their civilisation until we British came along. For ten years, with only bows and spears, they defeated us with our guns and cannons, so we tricked them in to laying down their arms to have peace talks and then we killed their leaders, generals and best warriors.
They fell for this nasty ploy because truth and trust formed the basis of tribal law. We, on the other hand, don’t like abrupt truth, which was why my mother was shunned by whites - for speaking out about my father’s cruel violence.
So where have we got with all this? That we are all different and that we each have to respect (understand) each other’s ways. This is a start. And today I failed… when a person who has been deceitfully digging the knife into us tried to be all nice. I failed by being nice back. I failed by saying nought about their ways. I failed by not looking at why they have done this to us. I failed in not easily forgiving them.
Hmm. I certainly seem polluted inside and slimy outside.