I’m not used to not being looked at in a condescending way.
It’s been long my elder sister and I got away from our abitual, respective routines. Scrap that, we’d never done that. So when Ryanair gave us the right offer at the appropriate time, we hopped on it, like bees in a honey pot.
The country was Eindhoven – the Netherlands, beautiful, beautiful place. Clean as phuck too, great buildings and cordial people, food wasn’t that good though. Everyone spoke English or at least, tried to make our stay bearable by making sure the language barrier wasn’t going to be a deal breaker. Even though I’m starting to get into the dutch language myself, I do like knowing when I am being told off.
And that moment never came.
I’ve lived in Italy for 15 years already and when you are an “outsider” you just know when you are being looked at like you don’t belong there or you are being considered “less than”. I’ve dealt with so much covert racism that I was simple waiting for that moment to hit me, in the cold streets of Eindhoven, with a loud ass luggage behind me disrupting the quiet of that afternoon.
It never came.
I’m not trying to sugar coat the Dutch – neither do I think it’s a safe haven either, I mean racism is real and it’s everywhere, the various shades of peoples’ skin will always be an issue, everywhere, anywhere, all the time – yes, even in African countries.
Still, it is a welcome feeling to be treated for who one really is when in a foreign country – tourists – not really black tourists per se, just tourists with very peculiar and coloured hairstyles. Tourists, who were undeniably excited when the train announcer said: “Next Stop, Amsterdam CS“.
It felt good to be treated like everyone else, not be fetishized, at least the illusion felt great. Felt fucking amazing to pass unnoticed too, in some way, not because we were black “Ugh these niggers are probably here to steal something, let me call my neighbour to hide the valuables“ but because we were just in a nice country to feed our eyes and hearts on what went on when we were locked away with the monotony we’ve made our lives.
It was nice to watch so many mixed couples walk hand in hand and no sad, judgemental older (wo)man raising his/her brows in dismay and horror “OMG! The white race won’t resist much longer if this sin against my ancestors continues, gotta remember to call my sister to tell her son not to bring any rice cake home – after my kebab, I love kebabs“ in sight.
The worst kind of racism, for me, had always been the covert kind of racism “It’s all in your head L. – It’s just ignorance, not real racism – You are one of the good ones, but the others, I’d kill”.
My heart is full with gratitude for each day I pass on Earth, you know? Everything, everyone, has been a gradual process to making me who I am today, every experience, every lesson, every racial slur and every “you are a beautiful black woman” too.
This trip is simply a metaphor I’d cherish and keep trying to decode in its simple yet awespiring intricacies. I didn’t know just how much covert racism had made it feel normal for me to feel unwanted or inappropriate, right from some years shy of teenagehood. Do not get me wrong, Italy is great – the food is greater, made good friends and questionable ones have been kicked to the curb, yet, I just wasn’t used to this, It was a breathe of fresh air. Might be hard to understand if you can’t relate but knowing something as good and as simple as “opportunity to prove one’s self before undergoing unintelligible skin color scrutiny” happens to people of color, daily – every and anywhere, outside my comfort zone is just beautiful, makes me feel at peace – at home, once again and I’m glad I was priviledged enough to know just how good that feels, I’d truly forgotten.
“Welcome to Amsterdam, have fun. I hope you enjoy it” said the guy seated close to me on the train once we got to our destination.
Fela Anikulapo-Kuti : “Trouble Sleep, Yanga Go Wake Am.” 
Lindsey: “Trouble sleep, yanga go wake am – Cover” [Brown – The EP]