Tag Archives: race

1919. A gated community

(Hi everyone – I’m possibly going to have a few days off, not from posting but from commenting – as one has to on WP now and again just to keep normal!)

Romualda had lived for a good two months in her new house in the fairly exclusive gated community of Cloudsome Heights. Thus far she hadn’t met a single neighbour. Then suddenly, without knowing who she was, Romualda met Yvette. Romualda was in the supermarket selecting a bunch of Ecuadorian bananas. If there’s the slightest touch of black on a single banana the bunch doesn’t last as long, so it pays to check thoroughly before squandering money on a bunch that would quickly go off. After all, she lived alone. It’s not as if a whole family was into helping to devour them. A touch of black would ruin the whole bunch. And then…

“You must be Romualda,” said Yvette who had just grabbed a bag of pears next to the bananas.

“Yes,” said Romualda, “but I must be honest. I’m not sure if we’ve met. How do you do?”

“You’ve recently moved into our gated community,” said Yvette not introducing herself. “There are quite a few people who are not happy about it.”

“Unhappy about what?” asked Romualda.

“About you moving into Cloudsome Heights, as I just said.”

“I wasn’t aware I wasn’t welcome,” said Romualda. “Is it because I live alone?”

“Goodness me, no,” said Yvette. “We’re not like that at Cloudsome Heights! It’s because…”

“Because what?” asked Romualda, by now slightly rattled.

Suddenly a rather buxom woman pushed her shopping trolley into Romualda.

“Oh I’m so sorry,” said the buxom woman to Romualda. “But you’re blocking access to the bananas.”

“I’m sorry,” said Romualda moving away toward the vegetable section.

“Well?” asked the buxom lady to Yvette. “Did you tell her she’s not welcome in Cloudsome Heights?”

“No. But I’m pretty sure she now knows that a touch of black on a banana will ruin the whole bunch.”

270. Makes no census


Wilbur marked a big black X in the box on the census form. It was the box marked “OTHER”. The question was to do with Ethnic Origin. Was he black, turquoise, white, green, pink, yellow, fuchsia, purple… ? Actually, the census form never asked that. It asked if he was European? Or Native American and if so was he Haudenosaunee or what? Or was he a …?

Wilbur was irritated. His maternal grandmother’s ancestors emigrated from The Netherlands eleven generations back, before The Netherlands was even a country. He didn’t regard himself as a European. His maternal grandfather’s ancestors crossed the Bering Strait (apparently) in the last ice age.

His paternal grandmother was born in Nukuʻalofa in Tonga. He didn’t have a clue about his paternal grandfather’s side. But he knew he was born in New York of American parents.

Wilbur was now infuriated. He put a cross next to “OTHER” for the ethnic question and then scribbled notes of annoyance all over the page. I don’t know. I don’t care. It’s none of your business. Why do you want to know? He had to get a new clean census form after that and start again, lest he got thrown in prison for defacing the official document. The British census equivalent didn’t ask if the ancestors came from the Norman or Viking invasion.

He finally put himself down as an American American. He still got an eventual letter from the census people pointing out his flippancy in a serious matter. He was asked to redo the form or face a fine. He put himself down as African. All humans, after all, had originated in Africa.