Author of this post:
CBS Volunteer 2014/15 Tamara
When I was a small girl it was my hair that made me go crazy – I hated it so much to have this kinky hair. All my friends had straight, easy-to-handle hair and mine didn’t even allow a comb to enter and I hated it that my colleagues used to (and still do) touch my hair and ask me – I’m sorry – stupid questions like “Can you wash your hair?” “Can you comb it?” “Does your hair get wet?”.
Today whenever I meet new people in Switzerland, one of their first questions will be “Where are you from?” And if I say Switzerland the next question will be “But where are you from originally?”
During my exchange year in Brazil, destiny wanted me to stay in the south, where all people are European descendants and where they have more blonde and blue-eyed people than we have in Switzerland and where the beauty Ideal for a woman is to have long, very, very straight hair. But at least, if it wasn’t for my foreign accent when speaking Portuguese in the Mecca of races they might have not asked me my life-accompanying question “Where do you come from?”
When I was traveling through Eastern Europe with my friend some months ago, not few people said things to me like “you are the first black person I meet in my whole life” or “I’ve seen you on South African TV recently”.
Now I am in Ghana, known as “The White Lady” and I have never felt so much reduced to my colour (of course I know they don’t mean the “Fela-thing” in a negative way, but that doesn’t help the case) and guess what, my hair is being touched and I am being asked “Can you comb this?”.
Oh, and when it comes to going to my father’s homeland, where every skin tone – be it black, white, brown, ebony, caramel, mocha, vanilla and whatever names are made up for skin colours – is represented, I am facing the same thing again; As I didn’t grow up there, people will always know and they will always ask me of my origin.
Where are you from?