DECENCY WARNING: may be deemed offensive.
Black is the recognised description, but even now in two thousand and eight I find it difficult to say. Blacks are talked about freely, but I was brought up call them coloured, if I had to differentiate by skin tone at all, and that to call them anything other than coloured was offensive. I am white, they are coloured but we both bleed red and shit brown.
Nineteen seventy-seven, there were two coloured boys in my school, oddly they were both called Andrew. I didn’t call them anything at all. I never spoke to them. I never spoke to anybody but I particularly couldn’t speak to either of them because neither of them answered to their given names of Andrew and God forbid that if I spoke to them I may have to call them by name.
They were both called Andrew but one was known as Jai and the other one was Nigger.
“Hey, Jai have you got any French homework?”
“Yeah, what about you?”
“Hey Nigger, you want to come and play football?”
“Yeah, I’ll just grab my boots.”
The second most horrific thing was that even the teachers called them Nigger and Jai, the worst thing of all was that it was how they referred to themselves.
“What’s your name?”
“Nigger, what’s yours?”
When it came to the two Andrews I was pleased that I didn’t speak. I only ever thought of them as Andrew in my head. I quite fancied one of them. This wasn’t determined by how he looked, or how long his hair was, what he wore or which musical group he swore allegiance to. I fancied him because he once smiled at me and he seemed kind. That was all it took.
And then one day I was having a mind conversation with myself. I really like Matthew Wilson and Andrew, I told myself.
Which Andrew? I answered
And my mind did it to me, quick as a flash and before I could stop it I answered me.