I am trying to avoid the “P-word” in BP but my wife assures me that after the Shahid Afridi controversy that if BP were to simply be about that “topic” we’d get a million viewers a day (I was telling her the readership views). I’ll probably crack from the moratorium but in the meantime let’s read on the sublime Romesh Ranganathan (his sense of humour is just wicked).
Before I first arrived in the US, I had been bombarded with advice from my friends about the nightmarish experiences that anyone brown faces at immigration, and warned that I should steel myself for a thorough interrogation and a cavity search. This turned out not to be the case, as I was welcomed by the officer at immigration and wished well on my new journey. He then started discussing astrology with me, which I couldn’t give a shiny shit about, but obviously had to feign interest to avoid immediate deportation.
It was only a couple of weeks later that my attitudes towards racism were once again brought under scrutiny. My family and I were at a restaurant having dinner with an all-white family (I mention this because it’s relevant to the story, not just because I want to show off that I have white friends) when an older woman approached our table.
“I have been watching you all evening, and I have to say how wonderful I think you are.” Nobody at the table had any idea what she was talking about, but, I have to admit, a small part of me hoped I might have been recognised so that I could demonstrate to my wife that I did in fact have some profile over here and this move to the US wasn’t a complete waste of time. My dreams were immediately shattered, however, when she announced to most of the restaurant: “This is what America is all about. Families eating together regardless of colour! This makes me so happy. And I’m saying this as a Republican!”
I sat in astonishment as my wife and friend discussed how nice that was and what a positive experience we had just had. I firmly disagreed. I made the point that we were just sitting having dinner and that we should be able to do that without it being commented on or misinterpreted as some sort of social statement. My wife and friend, however, felt that this woman might have felt like she had made some progress in her attitudes and that her approaching us to share that was something to be celebrated.
On both of these occasions, I felt that my response to what was happening was insufficient and that perhaps I have a responsibility to tackle these beliefs to help combat discrimination. But, mostly, I just want to have a quiet Mexican meal with my token white mate.