He stopped and apologized for being BLACK
So it actually happened. A stranger just stopped beside me and apologized for being black.
Tonight I took balls to become a London cyclist at night as a combination of being too poor to afford London expensive (but constantly on strike) public transport and willing to have a healthier lifestyle.
When I waited for the red light at the giant crossing pass Mornington Cresent, somebody uttered a “I’m sorry I don’t want to hurt you” beside me. And that was the actual moment I got scared (Imagining somebody out of nowhere but simply start by saying “I don’t want to hurt you”, never a good sign).
And I turned my head around and saw a black dude stopped by me, in winter sport coat on a bike. A black man with a very dark skin.
“I don’t want to hurt you, or scare you, by any means” he said, in perfect English that does not have heavy African accent and he said, and apologized again, “I’m very sorry.”
I was like, wwwwhhhhaaaat?
Then he said, “It is prefect normal if you get scared. I mean. By my look.” He raised his hand and pointed to his own face. And it just got weirder and weirder.
For a moment I was frozen.
What he was going to do? What should I say? Should I say “Ah yeah no worries yes you kinda scared becasue you are so blending into the night” just so his sincere appologise can mean something?
“No you didn’t.” I have no idea why I said that. It was like telling a dumb kid that he’s not dumb and he’s just talented in another way.
“It’s not my country, you know.” He said anyway, as what I answered did not matter. “In my country I’m free you know” he said, “I go out, I have fun and have girl toward me.” He said, on a bike, during the short 30 second red light. “But here, nah.” He was waving his hand, in an obvious sad tone but I have no idea how to comfort this man who definitly suffered from either unfair treatment or lack of self-confidence.
“Where are you from?” I have no idea why I said that neither, which somehow made me more of a racist who trying desperately to be less obvious.
“Nigeria” he said, “and in my country, I would never be like this” he said, “I’m normal and I have fun. But here, pew, it’s not my country.”
“You don’t say that. My best friend is from Kenya” yeah, having a black mate would definitly makes me nothing like a racist. Yeah how clever I was, “and she’s living here and having lots of fun.”
“Well, that’s possible,” my pathetic defence of my decency didn’t seem to work, “but most of us don’t you know.”
That 30 second red light was the longest 30 second in my whole life. But thanks God it came to an end.
“Bye.” He said, and I smiled and fleeted away, as fast as I could. I felt I was somehow labelled as racist but I have nowhere to defend myself from.
Am I scared? Yes. Imagine the scenario by yourself. Cycling in London for a beginner is already a horrifying thing, and when you are still in the super tension to keep yourself from being killed on the road and somebody just jumped out and said he didn’t want to hurt you.
Was it about his skin? No.
Back home I sat down and had my tea, which got me think about what just happened. There were two possibilities —
- A seemly vunerable Chinese girl could be petrified by black male.
- I’m also part of minority myself so I would be a good companion to share his feeling to.
No matter what drives him, it is obvious he had suffered from something. Unfair treatment at work. Failure to find a true love. Can’t enjoy himself as he’s constantly worried about being treated as a “different kind”.
I can hardly imagine what he has been going through that he’s so low in self esteem that he HAS to appologize first to a stranger who didn’t even see him behind. Before the minor possibility that he/she might get uncomfortable.
And maybe that is the worst kind of racism.
The worst kind of racism is deeply planted, and rooted inside the person himself, that he starts to look down himself.
I’m half sorry but half angry for this man I met tonight. We all have this moment as migrants in the UK, or anywhere in the world that we don’t belong to the place, we feel the fun has been lost and the happiness can never be restored as we were back home. And a confident and self respectful man should not blame it to the society, the world goes shit day by day and that is not our fault. There is discrimination against gender too, but people like Emma Waston stood up, rather than appologising for being female under the glass celling.
I’m not pro Donald Trump but there is one thing he said that actually make sense. It’s not “Black live matters”, but “All live matters”. As cliche goes, people should not be categorized by how they look (but it seems perfectly normal to look down poor people). Same, people should not appologize for how they are born, and they should be the least person to categorise himself and make such a statement to say “I’m sorry”. They should never do so. Why should they?
I always feel when people suffered from racism, they should be angry, they have the right to be angry. But the terrible thing just happened tonight — they passively accept that their color are disturbing.
What’s wrong with the world? It might be just passive agressive thing that he said, but it is not correct. But what kind of a society that push a strong, tough-looking African man to this, so vunerable and sad and helpless, as he can turn nobody for help but telling how depressing he feels to a total stranger, in a short 30 second?
I’m part of the minority myself. I’m Asian and there is undercovered racism again Asian race going on in the UK, but I don’t feel sorry for being who I am.
I might be ashamed of myself as I can’t get rid of my Chineseness so I sometime talk loud in public space, or cook too much in public kitchen area, stir-frying vegatable that makes the fire alarm go off.
But I’m a proud Chinese, a steamed-dumpling maker, a Ma Po tufo eater and sweet n sour chicken hater. I apologize for what I do but never how I look.