A column by Eve T
A collection of unfortunate prejudiced remarks and conversations we’ve heard, which somehow make for stupendous anecdotes.
Montreal. Québécoise with Haitian, Jamaican and Afro-American heritage (and that’s not even all). Mid-twenties.
Geneviève is a bright young thing, a social butterfly, the life of the party who’ll pull up the best dance moves while dissertating about the representation of black bodies by female Canadian artists.
So, she arrives at a house party in Saint-Henri, a traditionally working class Québécois neighbourhood of Montreal, which has, in the last years, found the favour of many youngsters and young families. As often, she’s the only Black person at the party. Not that she minds. Except maybe, when encounters such as the following occur. She then wishes for more ethnic diversity. Or that she refrained from addressing the person standing in front of her.
That person, who happened to be a girl, asks her what her name is – the usual introduction. When she replies “Geneviève”, the girl, happily surprised, exclaims: “Oh wow! It’s great that your mom gave you a European name and not a Ghetto one.” And as Genevieve, who is very talkative, is left speechless, the girl’s friend goes on asking her (as if they were buddies from da hood) if she could simply call her…”G”.
Seemingly unable to read Geneviève’s body language, they carry on the conversation, trying to bond with her, by professing their love for Queen Latifah.
Well, let’s hope for Genevieve that the beer fridge was not too far and still full…
Most of us mortal souls have made incorrect assumptions about someone based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, class… name it. Usually, our inner voice makes itself heard and says: “Oi! Don’t be a douche! Shut it at once!” Yet some of us don’t seem to be doted of that tinkering bell that rings just in time not to express that very misplaced or misjudged thought. Due to the absence of that saving jiggle in some, we’ve all been victim of an unwanted, prejudiced comment at some point. Sometimes, it’s so ridiculous it becomes truly amusing; sometimes it’s so hurtful it makes us question our faith in humankind.
This column celebrates those awkward moments when, baffled, you didn’t even know how to begin to reply. Because it’s just so much more pleasant and liberating to share our personal experiences, here is a tiny space in the cyber realm to voice your outrage, bewilderment, amusement or your mixed feelings – filtered through the words of yours truly, for curatorial purposes only. Laughing out loud, yelling, ranting and bitching is permitted. And a mix of all of the above is encouraged.
Eish I can so relate to sista “G’s” experience… That moment of utter bewilderment when somebody presents you with a moment of shock brought on by their (unthoughtful) utterances. Those “unwanted comments” leave me cringing, smiling, laughing and gagging all the very same time!