I don’t know when the change happened or if it was even one specific point. Maybe it took years or days, or weeks for this person to evolve/ emerge. But I am this person now.
I remember the first time I had become conscious of it – I had just moved to Trinidad and Tobago from London, and was exploring downtown Port of Spain a bit. There was a funky eclectic Britishness in my fashion: comfort-trendy. Nike trainers paired with a long skirt and smart blouse.I walked from St Clair to downtown Port of Spain (back then a few miles was nothing to walk) where I ran into an acquaintance, his first comment was ‘Sneakers with a skirt?’ It was more of an exclamation mark statement than a question. That was the start of my consciousness of what other people thought, it continued at my workplace – ttec – the six plus years that I lived in Trinidad, tore little pieces from my ego. It questioned my ethics, forced me to reduce standards and it left me heart breakingly aware.
I learnt that material and image were important, more important than truth, integrity and honesty.
I’m 36 now and I see even more change I don’t know if it is a good thing – did all this global experience make me become a better person? I’ve recently moved from Toronto to Nassau and again my consciousness has opened. I have become aware. I see people’s race now. I didn’t know my husband was white until I moved here. I didn’t realize that the reflection in the mirror spoke volumes to others, it shouted South Asian Indian! Though personally I’ve never been to Asia. I learnt my ‘place’ in a world where white skin ruled, where young black men and women bowed down to white skin, saying ‘yes sir, no mam, sorry mam.’ And brown faces like mine were told ‘Who de fuck does she think she is?’ ‘You feel you white?’ I don’t blame the white faces.
My hyper awareness makes me see that my husband gets treated better than I do, now I see the happiness in my white neighbours and I envy it a little. They don’t get stopped and asked for identification when they enter the semi upperclass, predominantly white expat neighbourhood in which I live. The young black men who make up the yard workers, pool cleaners and builders do not ‘psst,’ or ‘ask them for a fuck.’ I am now aware that my skin gives them that right, I am the coolie living amongst the privileged, married to a white man, but never must I forget that I do not have the rights of the whites. I can not be respected. I will never be treated like the white mothers.
I am so aware, so conscious and so unequivocally changed.