Indian woman dating black man

Racism is insidious, and that summer, I would only discover how much of it is learned behaviour.

The K-word would assail us everywhere we went, whether as a couple or in a group with other students from African countries.

But, later that night, in the auto-ride back to my apartment, Bryan quietly said, “That’s the first word all African students learn when they come to India — kala (black). What’s the difference between an expatriate and an immigrant? What do we call the persecution of a people because of the colour of their skin? We’re people of colour too, so where did we learn it?

At home, in the playground, our textbooks, in casual conversations, in film and advertising — everywhere.

It was heady in the beginning, to be treated as an exotic being, and to be so close to a culture I had only seen in films — wine any time of the day, elaborate meals, and French kissing (delightful at first, but quite taxing after a point).

When he showed me pictures of his family home in rural France, I imagined a life there with our mocha-latte son, Zizou.

But I did do something unforgivable — I asked him his HIV status. When he asked me to visit him in Kenya, I dithered and said maybe, because I couldn’t imagine what it would look like; it wouldn’t be as pastoral and picturesque as the French countryside, would it?

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Where nothing is known about your thriving film industry, your music; where your cuisine smells different, so it must make you a cannibal. For the middle and upper classes in India, a certain kind of Blackness is acceptable to us — the hip-hop/rap group or artiste, the Premier League footballer, Barack Obama, Idris Elba for James Bond — you get the drift.

We can wax eloquent about the double consciousness in Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, or Beyoncé’s Lemonade; debate about diversity at the Oscars; and hashtag Black Lives Matter on social media.

What about the several different cultures from African countries that international student populations bring to our cities? Some people say that if you want to know the truth about yourself, travel.

It would take me some more years to realise how damaging that adage is, because it bolsters the perception that Black male sexuality is threatening to other men, that it is something mythic and magical like voodoo.

And, if I continued to say that, there wouldn’t be much of a difference between me and the Punjabi man in the nightclub.

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