Creative Comedy Project
The Not So Dark Knight By Aaliyah Bennett
I consider my ethnic ambiguity a super power of sorts. Of course, I use that term very loosely; superpowers would imply moral righteousness. There is nothing virtuous in watching the awkward sweat and clumsy attempts of a person to steer from casual racism, the fear of offending gripping the perpetrator’s tongue and butchering their words. Rarely is there an actual threat of offence, but the simple raise of an eyebrow is enough to set their paranoid minds on edge.
From an early age, questions of my ethnicity began to bubble from the lips of curious companions, a child’s mental processing unit often devoid of a filter. Children simply do not care for issues of race. However, they are adamant to point out the obvious differences they encounter, said obvious difference being that I was not white - but not quite black either. “So, what are you?” soon became a common introductory sentence. As is the innocence of childhood, my pent-up frustrations had yet to manifest themselves in such a cruel form of manipulation. Instead, I resorted to confusion and a curt reply.
Years pass, and an awareness of social sensitivity settled into the minds of my peers. The gawky figures and buttery faces of teens, already self-conscious in these characteristics, would squawk in panic as they corrected themselves; but deviance from this norm is guaranteed. Greasy-skinned nitwits took it in their stride, an opportunity to practise their newfound form of conversation: an amalgamation of insult and flirtation. These hybrids – the cheesiest of pick-up lines known to humanity – bordered the line of racial humour, often swaying between the humorous and the inappropriate. On one ceremonious day, a member of the herd slinked his way over, the encouraging faces of his brutish companions egging him on.
“He-e-ey, Aaliyah,” the forced suavity of the ‘hey’ oozed prepubescent swag. He leaned forward, elbow propped in the space between us, accusatory fingers pointing at me. “Are you Jamaic-“
“Oh. Well, you…”
Knowing I had thwarted his poor excuse of a compliment, I feigned innocence. “I what?”
“You’re-” the whispered shame that followed brought a smirk to my lips: “You’re Jamaicing me cry…” Skulking away in embarrassment, murmured hysteria of ‘I thought she was Indian’ and ‘But she isn’t black?’ erupted from the group.
Social sensitivity paved the way for social control and thus, the balance of power tipped in favour of the little, brown girl. The boys (now assured that I was not Indian, nor Filipino, nor Hawaiian…) crept on the side of caution, the fear of offence now sternly planted in their heads. An enigma of ethnicity, I slipped between the shadows of racial categorisation, an unknown in the game of colour – the not so Dark Knight. I had won the game of power. The anonymity had granted me the wish of covert dominance, their fear exempting me from the childish ridicule of high-schoolers. Even the profound words of Tupac and Biggie Smalls were censored in their mouths around me.
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