The Coloured Identity

For as long as I can remember I’ve always felt somewhat disassociated with my people and my heritage. I despised the very blood that flowed through my veins , that which sustains me and held a rich history , unseen and unknown , only what I’ve been told. Stories being passed down. Khoisan European Slave – blooded girl. I didn’t want to hear it. For a long time I didn’t associate with the word ‘Coloured’ , it tasted weird in my mouth , like something metallic . A name we shouldn’t keep for ourselves , but because the white man labeled us it’s okay because we didn’t know it could be changed. White man says so , guess it’s right so. And , we cling on to it , because that’s all we’ve got when we don’t even have anything else. Where’s the traditions? The culture? Just gatsby’s and gun shots? Half-westernized folks who think an ‘African’ is separate from them. Is a Coloured person not more white? You have no fathers in Europe , they don’t claim you.

I’ve disliked us because we are middle-dwellers and we stay there in our comfort , unchanging and no asking questions about it. Most of us don’t know where we come from , we just know we got here and so just build a house on this plot because, you know , it works. We’re tired people , we can rest here. The white man gave us complacency.

How come I feel so unwelcome here amongst you? Is that why I’ve never liked you? How we have no sense of community or when there is , its twisted and misconstrued, always a little bit false. You’re my brother , but what’s in it for me? Have my back , but also , maybe you should be watching your back because I’ve got a knife and you’re vulnerable and I’m an opportunist, brudah.

Sister , sister… jou hare kannie Pom-Pom nie. I’m prettier than you because I almost look like my name could be Sarah. Mary-Ann. Heidi’s friend , Clara. Always making the darker-skinned girlies want to cry , looking in the mirror wishing their skin wasn’t their skin. Their hair , wrongly categorized as kroes , was never ugly in the first place , but because we’ve been brainwashed into thinking the only standard of beauty is the Eurocentric kind.

I’ve had to consciously rid myself of these narratives. I’ve learned to love my people , furiously and with a vigor I had lacked growing up. I’ve wanted to be something else other than what I was , I hated the brazen nature of most people living in and around my neighborhood and town. These fun-loving , colourful and often angry people. Sad people. Weird mix of hopeful and hopeless. Brown people. Black people. To hate them is to hate myself and that’s not an option anymore. They are the way they are because of the heavy hand they’ve been dealt by an unfair system. The men on top. White men who payed them in booze and not in wealth , their own wealth which has been stolen. Their dignity. Their pride. Took away their homes and forced them to start fresh in a dustpan. Taught them to hate each other. Fight amongst each other , while we sit pretty up in Constantia. Is it that hard to love thy neighbour?

Written By Abigail Jacobs

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