This is a kinda rant meets 'trip down memory lane' meets closure type of blog. Its something I've never spoken out loud to anyone before so I thought I'd do it here if that's ok
I've only been a member of this site for less than a week but I've noticed a recurring theme when reading a lot of members comments or posts and also when watching the Afropunk movie and it struck a chord within me reminding me of those feelings I once felt when I was at school. Its also left me feeling a sense of relief I guess because knowing that others have been through similar experiences and that although I thought I was the only person in the world going through this, it turns out I really wasnt.
I remember being in primary school. I joined this particular school late because my mother wanted me to go to a catholic school so she moved me from a state school at the age of about 9 and I settled in quickly making friends and getting on well with everyone. It was one of those schools where I was only one of only 3 black kids in my class of 30 but overall there was a healthy number of black kids in the school so it was fine we all played together and we all got on well but it wasn’t until we moved into secondary school when there seemed to be a problem, even though I really didnt see a problem to begin with.
So considering my primary school had more white children than black it was the complete opposite for secondary school where there were a lot more black kids than there were white. So there shouldnt have been a problem right? To me there wasnt I mean at the age of 11 I was still oblivious to race and this 'code' of who I should or shouldnt be friends with had completely missed me. In primary school I made some really good friends and they just happened to be white so I came to the conclusion that these were my best friends in my old school so they should be my friends in my new school (makes complete sense to me) but somewhere along the way that simple rule changed and one day someone turned to me in science class and said ''why are you hanging out with them - you wish you were white don't you?'' and then promptly labeled me a ''Bounty'' because like the chocolate bar I was dark chocolate on the outside and fluffy white coconut on the inside!!!
I felt completely ridiculed especially since it caught on so fast and everyone and anyone (but not my group of friends) was calling me a Bounty Bar - even the guy who was the only white kid in his group of black friends lol. Of course after a year or two of listening to that and being humiliated at every turn I felt ashamed to be around my white friends even though they'd always been so good to me. Before I knew it I was 'begging' my way into the black crowd and they let me in but they never really accepted me, no matter how I tried. I changed the way I talked, speaking in a mockney accent, using street slang and more patois - even though at times it felt so unnatural. I changed my music taste, listening to bashment and dancehall when I really wasn’t into it. Until then I was listening to the Prodigy, Jungle music and other dance music. I started smoking weed when my white friends would have never smoked a cigarette lol. I even started to miss lessons so that I could look more cool hanging out in the girls toilets smoking. It was ridiculous!! And still the day I walked into school with my fringe dyed a really light brown one of my so called friends turned to me and said ''oh look I see you've dyed your hair blond - now you're really one of them aren't you'' and everyone laughed. I remember thinking what am I supposed to do? why am I not accepted by my own people?
Looking back I can see all my mistakes - it doesnt take a genius to see where I went wrong! I should of stuck two fingers up at the girl that labeled me a Bounty and told her I had a tight group of friends and I didnt need to be around people that didnt like me but I was scarred and I thought if I could just prove I wasnt a bounty I would be happy again but it never happened. Unfortunately this experience stayed with me long after school ended. It effected almost every part of my young life: my relationships - I discontinued contact with all my white friends after school and all my so called friends too. My relationship with my family suffered too - I hadn't mentioned this before but I went through a stage of serious self loathing where I'd look in the mirror and all I'd see was this ugly black girl with the wrong hair and wrong shaped nose and big lips but I never spoke to my mother about this instead I lashed out which in turn put a strain on our relationship - I left home straight after school. My grades - I screwed up my GCSEs and left school with absolutely no qualifications. All this from being called a bounty!!! If only I knew then what I knew now.
2 years later I was living in a youth hostel and I became friends with these two really cool guys (who were white) they played some amazing music - it was loud and exciting and it made me feel free when I heard it - it was Metal and Rock and Punk; and they told me they were goths - well one called himself a goth the other said he was a cyber punk and because I was so into the music they invited me to a club in Camden. I went along but as soon as I stepped into the club I quickly noticed I was the only black kid again and all those feelings of being the odd one out came flooding back. I did try again and we went back there as well as another club on Tottenham Court Road but again I was the only black kid and in the end I told them i'd rather not go out with them anymore but I'd still like to borrow their CDs. They were cool with that so we stayed friends until we lost touch.
These days I am over it (believe it or not) I no longer give a damn about what people think. My best friend in the world just happens to be a white girl. She's a safe white girl though the type that only dates black guys and only goes to black clubs and only listens to urban music so I haven’t really stepped out of my comfort zone lol. It would be nice to have some friends that were into all the things that I enjoy including the loud heavy exciting music too. I do regret not giving the Camden scene more of a chance but hey maybe now I’m on this site I’ll meet some cool people that will introduce me to some cool clubs up that way seeing as I know zip about where to go.
Its just a shame that its taken me so long to put these feeling of rejection and shame, and whatever else I’ve been feeling, behind me (I’m almost 30!!). I really hope that in 2011 the little black girl sitting in class with her white friends is free to just be herself and be friends with whoever she wants to be friends with and listen to whatever music she wants to listen to and isn't made to feel less black because of it. Because one stupid moment of name calling has the potential to strip a person of their identity and that can have a knock on effect for the whole of their lives and that's a crying shame.