All that is
The Paradox of the Posh Black Person
Say what you will, but there is something grating, antagonizing even, about the 'posh black person'. Experience and observation have shown me this. The marriage of two historically polarising realities; posh and black, seems to achieve a certain shock value in some while unravelling a particular brand of resentment and hostility in others at worst.
I cannot tell you why this is so, but let me try in the form of a list nonetheless. Mind you, my references and musings will be based in the UK since that is where I currently reside and where I currently experience life, so to speak.
1. Because of colonialism and slavery, there is an economical and social hierarchy that exists today, and which whether or not people realise it, much of the population subconsciously or consciously adhere to. I don't wish to sound reductive, but the very fact is this power hierarchy positions black and brown people at the footing, and white people at the top.
With these positions, come certain attributes, or rather, certain attributes are expected of you. The most telling of these perhaps would be speech. Aside from appearance, the way a person sounds when you interact with them is the first honest clue they give you, and the first clue that you have about how they want to be perceived. So speech is important because...
Thus they're at a loss of what social standing to peg you in, in their minds. You're a
2. Your identity is made up of not only how you see yourself, but of your response to how society perceives you.
When I speak, I notice the subtle reactions. Faces look up, their gazes linger over me for longer than is necessary. The few who may interact with me will more often than not, ask where I’m from. Typically I’ll say I’m Nigerian, but have lived in the UK for a while…’ usually this response is unsatisfactory and so they’ll probe: Are both of your parents Nigerian? My answers are yes and yes.
I admit, I could just say ‘I’m British but I was born in Nigeria’, keep it simple. But then that would rob me of the enjoyment of their confused reactions.
Some of the words used by people to describe me upon first meeting are ‘articulate’ ‘eloquent’ ‘put-together’. While there is nothing wrong with these terms and while these terms in and of themselves are harmless, what they do point to is that there are certain expectations that are annoying.