the one

my mom knew at some stage that when the police were authorised to shoot to kill that it could be me

me who grew up visiting white friends’ suburban homes terrified by their guard dogs

me who walked the line between the smart kid the top ten academic achiever kid and the troublemaker kicked out of class kid

me the one who was taught I was black through an odd cruel shameful and unknowing complicity with a white school friend’s racism

me the one who imagined and wrote about racism from white friends before having a language for it or even experiencing it in the way I wrote it at ten or eleven years old

me the prefect the vice captain of the school’s first team cricket and hockey recipient of the drama award

class clown the one who got kicked out of class yesterday but still smoked the maths test the one who was told by the renegade Afrikaans teacher that he probably had the most potential out of his whole cohort the one who never struggled making new friends the one who was always well liked by all the white parents

the one who never knew he was black

the one who had no concept of being a man the one perpetually put in the friend zone the one who never wondered why he only had serious crushes on white girls the one who didn’t know what to say when his friend told him that he didn’t think black girls and women were attractive except beyonce

the one who didn’t know they were black

the one who thought they didn’t know what being black was

the one who beat the whites at swimming the one who felt uncomfortable when his friend told him ‘that’s what domestics are for’ when he started cleaning up the mess made making lunch in that friend’s kitchen

the one who knew he wasn’t white

the one whose dad was black the one whose friend asked if his dad knew that he was black because his accent belied his education the one who was a half breed who was given a nickname the self mockery of which he later internalised by labelling himself that name

point five

the one stopped by the cops at night in his own neighbourhood on the way home from working late on campus the one whose honours paper was awarded with distinction and studied spatial policing but somehow never implicated his own experience of interdiction in his own neighbourhood the one whose supervisor insisted on being first author when he published his own thesis work the one who was celebrated for his use of class analysis

the one whose mother knew he was black before he did

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4 thoughts on “the one

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