She said, after peering down at my laptop screen, “you keep reading these things about race. You're letting it effect you,” “whether I read or not, it effects me," I replied.
“People make fun of my polish accent, I don't take it seriously,” she added, still standing over me. “it's not the same," came my response, all too familiar with such comparisons, "and by the way, if you did take is seriously – I wouldn't be sitting here telling you how better to react.”
She sighed floating back to her cut of lamb on the stove. “But there's no racism anymore,” she seemed forced to add. “Beyonce and Kanye West rule the world!”
I turned to my screen. Not fully resigned, but not wanting to go on. For both of us the day was already long in the tooth. We needed to eat and have some sleep. Not this.
The meat sizzled on the pan at medium heat. She wondered around the centre of the kitchen, head down focused on her cradled tablet, one ear plugged, the other free and facing my sat down, flat pack posture. Both of us whirlwinds about the internet.
“Is Rihanna black?" She startled me with, still staring at her tablet. “Yes,” “fully?” “I think so,” “she's not mixed?” “I'm not sure actually...” I said looking at her, openly expressing my disinterest. In the silence my honesty created, I felt bad. “My sister shares the same complexion and she's not mixed,” “Hmm,” she utters, unconvinced.
...My sister is the same complexion. Or is it that my sister's nose and lips aren't as pointy and thin for the comparison to be made? Is it that my sister shows up to the world carrying her hair the way it grows? Then I look at the tenants nose and it too isn't as pointy as Rihanna's, her her lips not as full. She hadn't an accurate line of things you could attribute to a race except her skin colour.
“hmm,” she reused to turn from me and acrobatically open one of the cupboards. Out came a pan. No other questions followed.
During the fry up, I google Rihanna's ethnicity to found she did have mixed ancestry; from Scotland and Ireland. Then I thought; couldn't the tenant just have googled it herself?
Our final discourse. One that only I could perceive as having a thing to do with race. We had already stripped away social constructs of relationships in this conversation. We had pushed boundaries on gender differences – sort of. Then; at that slippery juncture where trial blazers sit too comfortably, she summed up her divine right to get the man and relationship she desired by pointing out her obvious attractiveness. Fingers bending back towards her, scanning from her head to her chest. “I-am-pretty.” As self assured as I-Am-Caesar. The drum of war that didn't com from a confidence within - I had thought - but from a handle gifted by societies trusted and epicurean staple. A society that pitched long blond hair and a tall slim body as the pass go to beauty. She bottled the hair and killed herself in the gym for the other.
'I-Am-Pretty', because hordes of men with money matched her on dating websites and lavished her on dinners. Pretty because those billboards she passed on the way to work were like mirrors held up for her so whenever she declared, 'I-Am-Pretty', the world would reply, 'Yes-You-Are'.
'Yes-You-Are'. Pretty enough to not ruffle the fabric of the work place and make her Eastern European accent incidental to herfabric matching looks.
I wonder how pretty she'd feel if such stabalising clarity was swept from beneath her.