Whose Country Is This?

Early this afternoon I was walking slowing up Venner Road struggling in equal measure under a heavy shopping bag, the suddenly oppressive heat, and a medical condition that has plagued me for years. Lounging on a car were two young black girls; I didn’t pay much attention to them – not because I’m racist but because I don’t generally pay much attention to young white girls either. Or boys for that matter. Having said that, I did notice that they, or one of them, was eating a packet of crisps, and the thought occurred to me that I hope for their sakes the car belongs to their mother.

They were wearing school uniform, including light blue shirts. I’ve just checked the local schools on-line, but can’t identify it for certain, however I am fairly sure it is from a fee paying school; there are a couple of mildly famous ones in the area, including one for girls only.

I still don’t know who owned the car on which they were lounging, but now know they were not sisters, because on passing them I heard one of them say: “But my country’s always gonna be hotter than yours”.

Although I would probably have said she had a “black” voice, she was clearly speaking English English. This was clearly a future PA, businesswoman or maybe even a pharmacist rather than a hip hop “artist”.

I looked back, but all I saw were two schoolgirls, which is what they were, and yet that phrase summed it up. It may be that either or both of them were foreign borders; it isn’t only Eton, Harrow and the like that still attracts them. Most probably though they were British born and bred, and in many ways would regard themselves as such, and yet there was that “my country”, not a Freudian slip, but a plain statement of fact.

A lot of people agonise too much over where we are from, ancestrally or otherwise, but how important is this? In the final analysis where we are from is not as important as where we are going, and how we propose to get there. Ultimately we are all headed to the same place of course, but even allowing for both mock and real philosophising, our racial identity is part of what we are.

I’m sure none of my fellow travellers would deny these two girls their racial identities. Is it so terrible that we should expect the same courtesy from those who would deny us ours?

April 8, 2011

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