I actually wrote quite a long note some time ago about things Europeans asked or said to me that I didn’t know how to respond to without disagreeing. I never posted it. However, one of those things that pops up often enough, as said to me by Europeans and non-Europeans here alike, is the typical description of beautiful people. People would talk about these awesome people who are “blond, tall, with blue eyes that everyone would fall for (as opposed to other ‘plain’, non-blond folk)”. My usual reaction is to smile, say nothing, or say “Yeah…I’m sure”; but running through my mind would be “Umm, no eh… I have nothing against blond people with blue eyes, but I honestly can’t identify with your objectification of them as some special group of hotness. They look just as pretty/plain as everyone else does”
It’s different because, having gone to an all-girls secondary school, I’ve heard many girls talk about beautiful girls and guys. Whilst the hot, blond, white dude from a movie may factor into a conversation, the description of a beautiful girl never involved blondness or blue eyes…it instead might have involved fair skin and long hair. This wasn’t because blondness isn’t ‘beautiful’, it’s just because people in Trinidad generally don’t go through life swooning over and thinking about blond folk. I think that of all the Trini black/brown people I’ve met who have a ‘thing’ for white people, they just have a ‘thing’ for white people…they couldn’t care less what colour their hair was. So it’s really strange to hear people in England make this special distinction between ‘blonds’ and ‘everyone else’. I’ve seen many a good looking blond person here, but try as I might, I can’t begin to grasp why they’re any ‘hotter’ than brown-headed, black-headed or red-headed white folk. Maybe if I had lived here longer I would be seeing things differently.
Either way, I generally never fit into any description of ‘beauty’ that people tell me; so for very selfish reasons it often goes in one ear and out the other. I still find the subject fascinating though… I wonder if people in the US also hold blond people up on some higher level.
I’ve been asked several times since coming here, “You must have to get accustomed to so much, what’s different?” I usually say the weather, or the manners of the people…never do I mention how odd it is for me seeing so many, and such a wide variety of white people. I mentioned that last week to a white guy though… he replied that where he’s from he doesn’t see much else but white people. I’m pretty sure that I look a bit strange to him in some ways. I know that my hair certainly is strange to some. There are white people with dreadlocks, straight hair, in gothic apparel, in bohemian clothes, in suits. It’s all very new to me, and ensures that a day walking, or just sitting and looking around would be absolutely fascinating. From an artistic point of view, everyone seems like a character, and I more often than ever feel like painting. The painting (with this note) was inspired by a lady living here in Cambridge for example… how can you not want to paint or sketch when you see someone who looks as interesting and cool as she does?
White people raking leaves, driving garbage trucks, white people doing all manner of things and from all manner of backgrounds. It’s outlandish to me, overwhelming at first. Ah mean, you probably could live your entire life in Trinidad and never meet a white person. Not only that, but the white people in Trinidad often have those office and managerial type jobs…not anything to do with manual labour and serving. I figure that in a country with a majority of white people, like England, someone has to do those jobs, but I don’t think it particularly occurred to me before I came here that many white people do those things. I know that it sounds naïve; but all my life I’ve been seeing the vast majority of white people do high paying work, having authoritative jobs, working in offices, living in the posh areas, being privileged…so it was weird having a white lady come in and clean my room. It just looked completely odd.
In a fair world it wouldn’t at all seem strange….but.
I’ve watched her for so long (years) from maxi windows on the Southern Main Road and Saturday last I finally got to fly with the giant hummingbird in the sky! She flew me through timezones toward a dawn at 2:30am, up over the clouds…oceans of tightly bunched white cotton balls and sky blue islands of atmosphere. Gracefully she landed in the UK and we said goodbye. It’s been quite a long journey getting here, filled with many disappointments along the way; but thanks to God, family, friends, wonderful lecturers, mentors and teachers, well wishers, various others and a bit of personal dedication I’m finally getting to do the MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology at the University of Cambridge.