So here is a story about what is probably racism. I want to claim that it’s just pride and deep-seated anxiety about past issues,but I think anyone with some sense would call it racism. Thus, to protect myself, I will not be using ethnicities/nationalities but colours to represent the two (three) sides. Here goes.
I am Yellow. I’ve always been proud of being Yellow. I don’t know the history to any extent, but the Yellow region of Red has been prolific and prosperous for a couple of centuries. Yellow is a geographically large region with the population numbers and whole whack of culture. A Yellow city is a world-class international city and the stuff of pop culture. These days, I get really upset to hear of official sanctioned attempts to marginalize Yellow in favour of the rest of Red but that is another matter.
While talking of marginalization, I recall that Blue has long been marginalized. Blue is also in the region of Red. And it’s about Blue I have so much anxiety.
My first boyfriend was not Yellow, Blue or Red. He digs Yellow, Blue and Red people (and then some who look like us) and was teaching me stuff about being Yellow, because I come from a small town and he grew up in a big city and dated Yellow girls, both ex-girlfriends before me.
We hit a bad patch and I was naive (and not just a bit stupid) and I stuck around. He took the licence to look at other girls, tell me who he liked the looks of. There was a particularly attractive girl who wasn’t a dopey engineering student like us. She’s the first Blue I “knew” but we knew of her only by observing her and making up salient stories, not by knowing her personally.
That cruel ex-boyfriend told me that my looks were really normal. Yellows are a dime a dozen in the big city. Blues hadn’t been coming to Canada for nearly as long and seemed exotic.
Actually, you can’t really tell a Yellow from a Blue. We come from a similar climate so skin tone is similar and neither of us are taller than the other. Yellow has bigger and glitzier cities and our language is known to be brash – gutteral, loud, cacophonic, colourful. Blue has one big city, a softer language and a more mild “friendlier” image. There’s also a political situation Blue has been fighting for a while and Yellow is now coming up against a similar one. Then, Blue are a really proud people, too.
But there you have my first and long exposure to Blue, a year or so of being ragingly envious of this beautiful girl, of feeling that being Yellow is so boring and embarrassingly mediocre.
Ten years later, I dated a Blue guy for a few months. I wanted us to connect that we are both essential Red in origin but he’s not raised very Blue or Red at all and what he knows, it’s Blue. When he moved on – our relationship was untenable due to the long-distance aspect and I was borderline obsessed with him – I felt rejected not just by him, but by Blue.
These days, I know a family that identifies as Blue. And the way they seem to carry on, all of my past issues rear their ugly head.
The vocal matriarch of the family consistently proclaims they are Blue. Certainly it is true her parents lived in Blue and she was born there. They all came up Canada when she was young and she grew up with and married a Yellow man. I have long wondered how Blue she is when her maiden name is a Yellow one. I have spent years hearing her and the females in her family say they are Blue, tinged with – it seems to me – a superiority complex. That they are not Yellow.
Her children with the Yellow man are thus at least half Yellow. And now her children are having children and there is less of a Blue component in her grandkids. It riles me up to hear her continued proclamation of her family – herself, her children and trying to extend it to her grandchildren – being Blue.
Then I recently learned that she is actually half Blue and half Yellow. Her sisters-in-law didn’t know the reason behind my queries into the family’s background and frankly told me. Her children are only a quarter Blue and her grandchildren one-eighth Blue.
I really am neither for nor against Blue. They have their national/regional pride issues and so does Yellow. I just want Yellow to win at battles and that’s not at odds with Blue’s success.
What drives me crazy is that I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say she’s Yellow when she’s half Yellow. Her children are three-quarters Yellow and I feel like she downplays it. Those sisters-in-law are Yellow which means all of her nieces and nephews are the same as her kids, only one quarter Blue. Yet I think they’ve been conditioned to only claim the Blue heritage.
It makes me bristle. I have my issues but I still feel like I am seeing somethings clearly. Fortunately, I have now have some facts (from the sisters-in-law) on my side.