About Color

July 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

My beautiful niece once answered my question to her about color with “I’m brown and pink.” She must have been 4 yrs old at the time. She said it so confidently and with such verve and panache as if to ask me if that was a real question. I was so proud of her for that answer. If she’d answer the question that way, I can only imagine how her very independent and self-confident lil’ sister would react to that question. Alicia Keys claims she’s black; so does Halle Berry. I find it really annoying when mixed people do that. You’re both! And for that matter, I hate that term bi-racial. Aren’t we all one human race? In the U.S., Americans avoid color like the plague, unless you find yourself being that nearly perfect mate their son or daughter had brought home. Then, they find every excuse to make known to their lil’ social milieu that new component to their new multi-cultural family. What’s our fascination with color?

I’ve always thought of myself as post everything and least affected by color, but sometimes I catch myself in situations that make me wonder if I’m so aloof and naïve about my own feelings about color. When I first came out onto where the throngs amass outside Kotoka on my return to Ghana, I saw a white woman receiving her black partner from our flight, and although I thought nothing of it, I found myself feeling relieved. For someone who had by then never dated a black woman, I wondered if I was expressing a preference as I wondered about how or if that dynamic existed or could function in Ghana. I still don’t relate to Ghanaian women, which further add to the thoughts and feelings my conscience chooses to ignore. But I digress… are we pre-wired about color in the same we instinctively resist entering the dark, or run from fire? And what about Ghanaians… how do we feel about color?

I brought home a new friend yesterday. There was nothing special or unique about it…except she was white. Can I say I hate when people stare. You would’ve thought we were fresh road kill. It was a little embarrassing to have all those kids following us. When I was younger, we had the occasional hobo travel pass through every now and then. I even went to school with at least one white person and I’m sure a white family lived on my street in Kokomlemle, but I never thought they were fascinating enough to warrant stares. But today, I didn’t care. When you live so far outside central Accra, you’ll take and appreciate when someone grants you a visit. Ghanaians also don’t hug or kiss. Ok, maybe some do, but it’s so measured and calibrated, it sucks the life out of the act altogether. Yesterday was probably the first time I had had both where there weren’t any romantic intentions from either person in Ghana. I guess I should add that to the list of things I really miss. Too bad, we managed to do all this in public (gasps!!!) Ghanaians don’t do PDA, especially those long tight goodbye hugs like the one we had before she boarded a tro-tro home.

“So this is why your husband doesn’t talk to you anymore,” “said one heifer to her sis making sure I heard them. Yes, it couldn’t be because she happens to have 4 boyfriends in my neighborhood alone. And after my German’s van was long gone, I sat on a short wall to watch a scrimmage of football where I guess that act was invitation for more questions and comments.

“Are you sleeping with her?” I didn’t bother with that one.

“I would like to be her friend. Can you give me her number?” Umm… only for you to call her randomly in the middle of the night, every night? NO! Can Ghanaian men come up with a better pick up line?

Then there was my favorite, which I’ve heard a few times before my return to Ghana. I have this joke I usually save for this question, but this time I replaced “strawberries” with “grapes.”

“So what’s it like to be with a white person?”

“It’s the best feeling in the world. Their skin’s soft like pillow. Their hair’s silky, and when it rains, they smell like grapes.”

What if I was dating her? The men and boys want to be her “friends.” The women didn’t like her presence, but couldn’t help staring. I know I’m being a lil’ naïve here, but why doesn’t an Abena visit get the same reaction as one from Ana from Wolfsburg?


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§ One Response to About Color

  • An Abena says:

    Why doesn’t an “Abena” indeed! You can’t ignore the historical context in which Caucasians came to West Africa in the first place and how this history and relationship has carried through to modern life. History is important and would explain why there are very different race dynamics in Ghana compared to Southern or even East Africa. I could go on and on but I think I’ve made my point.

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