There are three rules that I never depart from when I’m in a group.
Rule #1: “Never talk about religion!” I deal with people of different traditions and backgrounds. When we talk about religion nobody ever agrees and this often ends in shouting matches. So I prefer to avoid.
Rule #2: “Never talk about money!” I am usually very relaxed about money when I’m in a foreign country especially in the US but I’m still very embarrassed to talk about when in France. I often see myself putting disclaimers out there to secure the conversation when talking about salary with a “if it is not too intrusive of course…” And since the people I’m talking to usually beats around the bush, I refrain from even trying.
Rule #3: “Never talk about politics!” I am apolitical, neither left nor right or extreme left or extreme right and I assume my political cowardice quite well since it does not seem That I have a choice in the first place…
In general, the lines around politics tend to be very blurred and very often reach a subject that personally bothers me a bit: Community Divisions. Each and everytime, the topic arises, I get a taste of the “same and endless tunes” on the various forms of racism.
By creating this blog, I had in mind to share my passion for fashion with with as many people as possible. Bringing people around a certain type of population has never been on the radar for me. I even swore I would never write about it. Not that the subject is not important, but simply because I do not feel the need to write about it. But some time ago, someone in my surroundings approached me in a timid way and asked: “Gaby how do you handle being black in France?”.
“Huh What …. …. …. Huh??” Well, I can’t deny that I still have not answered the question, but somehow it started to puzzle me to the point that I had to debrief with myself on the subject for a minute. I even found lots of blogs that discuss the subject. I collected the opinions often shared by some women around me. I even noticed that in some cases, the tone of the claim recurs frequently, almost as if there was a battle to fight… And I think that is where this becomes annoying to me.
I grew up with mostly people from the same origins as those of my parents, the same social milieu, as well as jovial, warm and festive. That was my environment. There was always the need of pride that resonated as a background noise… There was the “Us/Back Home” and “Them” mentalities… Throughout my teens, I had this tendency to say “back home” as if I had been born elsewhere while ironically never setting foot in Haiti. But like many French people, I am what I call an in-between: you end up believing that one is here and there.
I do not deny that the day I went out with my first boyfriend who was white by the way, I learned to swallow this famous “pride”. The moment I went “white”, I was systematically cataloged by “Mine” as “Them”! So today, with a lot of hindsight, maturity, a few more years, and a lot more humor, I’m sure that stupidity and prejudice don’t discriminate.
So I ended up not focusing on my parents’ traditions while continuing to develop, and deeply love those of “my country”, France. I am proud of neither one nor the other, I am no more proud to be black than being a size 8… Honestly, I have come to believe that the most important thing is not to be proud of what we are, but what we do… I may be wrong but it makes lots of sense to me…
How about you? How to you handle being who you are? The question is weird but hey, if you have an opinion on the subject, have at it.
It could make for a follow-up post, who knows?
Have a great week!