Review: Race relationsA friend of mine who works in South Africa went to the beach with some black people last weekend. Well done, friend!
I find her example inspiring and intend to spend the next few weeks making friends with black people who are not related to me. Next month, I’m moving to a country where everyone is black. Last time I was there, I received this brilliant summary of my racial identity, from a man in a market: “You’re white,” he said, “but a funny colour.” Thinking of the money I’d saved on buying books by Paul Gilroy, I bought a sack of rice for 20p.
A few years ago, my father, who is Jamaican-Irish, decided to rediscover his African roots. He took to wearing batik-print gowns and yin-yang necklaces, in a triumph of mixed cultural messages. Before dinner, we’d do a libation to the ancestors, which is where my dad went out into his Manchester back garden and poured a bowl of water on the tomato patch. Go the ancestors! Roots, I believe, should stay buried underground, where they can make themselves useful.
The benchmark for a truly inclusive society is an STA Travel advert in which a racially mixed group of attractive young people gambol around in a tropical paradise, raping the local culture. Advertising has always led the way in the area of race relations: when my brother and I were small, people in supermarkets used to congratulate my mother on her children, saying we were just like a Benetton advert. This was before the period when Benetton adverts featured Death Row inmates and AIDS patients. It seems obscene, now, that Benetton ads used to be culturally relevant. The 1980s were a desert, even worse than the Noughties.
Race relations: As a child, I was under the impression that we weren’t allowed to eat South African fruit because the man from Del Monte killed black people. Later, I worked in a bar with the daughter of the actor who played this heartless monster. True story! 6 out of 10.