Black on Both Sides Part 1

Posted in Guest Posts,Wabona on April 18th, 2013 By wabona

This is the first of a two-part blog post titled Black on Both Sides.

I’m sure the Hip-Hop aficionados remember and probably still play Black on Both Sides, Mos Def’s classic break out album, right? Mos Def or should I say Yasiin Bey now, as he changed his name recently hasn’t been bringing the classics lately but his shit was hot fire when I was growing up. I grew up in Toronto, Canada with my mother and two brothers. We were black in Canada even though we were mixed race. And that was cool until I went Cape Town, South Africa. Black is not for everyone even when you think you black on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Black was cool, we had all the cool rappers, sports stars, musicians, singers, even Michael Jackson until he created his own alien race. I wonder who claims him now. I didn’t feel any sort of issue with my skin colour. We lived in an area with lots of immigrants, I dated white girls, east and west indian girls and black girls. It was awesome. I loved it and when I went to university I got a deeper understanding of being black, the history of Africa, the history of Slavery, African-American history and all that. I immersed myself in all this because I wanted to know more about my people, black people. Even though I was mixed race, I was black in everything I did and my mom didn’t seem to mind.

So growing up in Canada was great, its somewhat racially integrated, relaxed and yes free healthcare. I think I have to say that just to spite my American friends. Race for me was not much of an issue until I got back to Cape Town. I was born in Paarl outside Cape Town and then moved to Canada when I was 3. I don’t remember much of Paarl or Cape Town. I recently went back to visit my grandparents, who had moved to the Cape Flats in Cape Town, one of the places people of colour were forcibly moved into during Apartheid.

In Cape Town I was coloured, Cape Coloured to be precise. Not black as I thought but coloured. I thought being called coloured was racist but in South Africa it’s a people group, a race so to speak.  I can tell you honestly I am not used to being called coloured. I thought I was black but in South Africa being black in not as all-encompassing as I thought. In South Africa there are white people, black African people, indian people and coloured people. I am coloured formerly black when I was in Cape Town.

I don’t have much time to go into the history of South Africa, let alone the history of the Cape Flats but all I can say is its very complicated. When I was in Cape Town I asked my grandfather, why do they call themselves coloured? He was not happy with the question. He asked me are you not coloured. I said no, I am black. Then he flipped out and in no uncertain words told me that you are not black you are coloured. I was shocked and didn’t know what to say. I wanted to reply but I was new here and you know what I didn’t want to fight this man. He is 6ft 5 inches and wide as a door. So I apologised and walked away.

To Be Continued…

-Andre The Black

So who is Andre The Black? Andre is a well built man, not as tall as his grandfather but big enough man. He loves soccer, music of all sorts and is a bit a FIFA Football fanatic especially on X-Box 360. 

Favourite Film/TV show: Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13, Paranormal Activity. On the TV side Fringe, Lost and X-Files. 


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