I’m unmistakably dark-skinned, with black hair and brown eyes. Because of what I’ve learned and experienced, I constantly wield a furrowed brow when the conversation becomes “colored.” This is the midway point of my year in Paris, and I’ve noticed that my role in certain scenarios has not changed much. Attending a large, predominately white university has afforded me many an opportunity to feel somewhat singular amongst others, no matter how hard I try not to. Being the only dark person in a room full of non-dark people is nothing new to me, and I’m used to the jokes about me, my skin, and what people think about others who look like me.
Here in Paris, with Xavier, I’m constantly reviewing the last “black” joke in my head. Don’t get me wrong, some are totally ok, but a steady barrage (in my opinion) of jokes and little puns can be a little unnerving and there have been plenty these past few months. We were having dinner and I mentioned that my father was from Ghana and I talked about my trip there. He was surprised (even though I mentioned this before, he thought I was just saying that my pop was from Ghana, like it was something cool to say) and he asked me if my father spoke a “click language.” The language people joke about, while making the terribly loud and ridiculous clicking and smacking noises with their mouths. Xavier thought this was a funny question and decided to join in on the fun, and they both continued to ask if my father spoke like that. I responded with a dark “no,” and tried to explain that he speaks a few languages, but nothing like the kind they were happily hoping for. I tried to ignore the rest of Xavier’s questions on the matter. Apparently, they think that this is what it’s like.
Andrew then invited me to go to a club with him, and, burying my burning anger towards this fellow, I acquiesced and decided to go. Dancing with the enemy… and some of his pretty girlfriends… confusing and disconcerting at the same time.