Ann-bernice

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We have a performance night at the end of the year at the theatre, and you can do whatever you want. This was the theatre at UVIC, Phoenix Theatre. There was this 30-year-old white guy, and he starts by telling us this story, where he’s gone to this audition, and it’s an audition for the role of “monkey,” and he comes to this room and it’s just a sea of black men who are here to audition for this other role, and he said, “Oh, geez, I’m not going to get it.” That was his thought process. So, he goes into the rehearsal room, and he does his audition, and it’s an amazing audition, but they said, “We can see your skin through the monkey suit, would you do black face?” He said, “No, but the moral of the story is while we are here at university, we have to do roles we won’t be able to get in the real world, so I am just going to sit here and sing “Old Man River” from Show Boat.” Which is a song about slavery on the Mississippi River sung by a black man on one of the first shows where you were allowed to have black people on stage. I had to leave. Let’s do black work now because you can’t later, that was the message of his story. Horrific. Everyone thought it was funny; they all thought it was funny. I thought, “Was it funny? Because I am hurt.” He didn’t see the issue of a black man in the role of monkey also.

In my earlier years here I had lots of stuff with my hair going on. I had really big hair, and everyone was touching it, and I was like, “please stop touching me.” I was on the bus, on my way into the Times Columnist for an interview, and this woman sits next to me and said, “Wow, is that your real hair?” I said, “yes, but I am thinking about cutting it.” She said, “why? So it looks more professional?” Why did she say that? Because it is not silky, straight, long hair.

I was walking home one day, and some days, I am gender fluid, so some days I am just all over the place. I was in sweats and a t-shirt, but I looked like a dude, and I was walking home at night, and there was this woman and, I’m assuming her husband, and the woman was closer to me, and she saw me, and physically moves her husband to the other side of her so that he is closer to me as we are walking by each other. I’m like listening to Barbara Streisand on my way home from work, and I am scary to you, really? (Fear of black people) is so deep rooted. I’m like, “what, am I just going to attack you, right here, right now?”

One time, I was walking home, I had the worst day, so when I got home, I said, “roommates, I want ice cream.” We got to Hillside McDonald’s, and were walking back, I was wearing a zip-up sweater with a hood, I have long hair, and I have an ice cream cone in my hands. So imposing. This cop car loops around, stops in the middle of the street, he doesn’t even pull up, and he yells out his window, “what is your name?” I said, “Ann-Bernice.” He said, “Bernice is your last name?” I said, “No, it is Ann-Bernice Thomas.” He said, “I am looking for someone, is it you?” I said, “No,” and he just drove away. My friend, she is white, said, “he didn’t ask me my name.” I said, “Of course not, of course he didn’t.” At least pull up and have a conversation, why are you yelling at me, you obviously don’t want anything; you are just trying to instill fear. It was the worst.

I was visiting my brother and his girlfriend, she is white, in Japan, and we went to do karaoke, and she did “Gold Digger” by Kanye West, and she said the n-word the whole time. I mentioned it, but he is on her side. She said, the title, “Dear White People,” is click bait and antagonistic. I was like, “It’s not, and have you watched the show?” It makes me really sad. He is 30, and I find once you get 30+ the mindset is a little bit different, and is just wrong. Why can’t she just not say it? Do you have to say it so badly? Do you want to be black? What is it?

I was on Tinder, big mistake, and I matched with this white guy, again big mistake. He messaged me and said, “I just want to let you know that you are the ugliest thing I have ever seen. You are disgusting, and I hope you go kill yourself.” I was like, “Ok, well, let’s talk about this. Why? What is it?” He just said, “You are just disgusting. If you are black, you are horrible.” I was like, “Thanks for this, it has been a great experiment. You went out of your way just to tell me that, I appreciate it, thank-you.” It was a couple years back, and I just thought, this is why I don’t date, I guess. I took it personally, but I tried not to. I went back to Toronto last Christmas, and thought, “Oh you guys all like me, thank-you; it’s this city, amazing, thank-you, I’ll be here soon.” It is just Victoria, I think. I’ve been the first black person at least three people have met out here. It is nuts. Once I was out in Comox Valley, I guess that makes it better as it’s so small, and there was one black guy in the whole town. One girl said, “I’ve never met a black person before.” I was like, “I don’t know what to tell you.” Then, I was here, outside at a party somewhere, and I was smoking weed, and this guy said, “You know what, I have never spoken to a black person before.” I said, “Oh. How’s it going?” He said, “Well.” I said, “I’m glad, because I am out here smoking weed with you, just fulfilling all of the stereotypes.” Goddamnit, let me live my life.

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