Too Nice

Look at you, Miss highty tighty, you think say you nice? You think you are a white lady now, you with your this and your that….

Apparently having ambition, a high self esteem, a fuck you attitude, liking nice things, wanting to be friends with people, black or white who see the world as glass half full instead of half empty, not blaming my skin colour if I fail at anything in life means I want to be white.

Here are some of my likes which apparently also means I want to be white.

I shop at John Lewis – I want to be white.

I shop at Net-A-Porter – I want to be white.

I like to hang in the sunshine – Do you think you need a tan love? Do you think you are a white lady?

I shop at second-hand shops – I want to be white.

I like Caribbean food – I’m black.

I like Farrow and Ball paint – I want to be white.

I like Green and Black Paint – I want to be white.

I shop at Selfridges – I want to be white.

I get my food shopping delivered by Ocado – I want to be white.

I wear my hair natural – I’m black.

I buy freshly cut flowers – I want to be white.

I live in an multi-cultured mixed area – Thank heavens you didn’t move to the British countryside my dear or we really would have called you the white lady!

I like to garden – Well that’s ok, just as long as you don’t grow shrubs love. That’s white.

I don’t smack my kids – that’s white. If you spare the rod, you will spoil the child. Don’t you know that?!

I like organic food – I want to be white.

I’m vegetarian – You are not Rastafarian dear, so eat some meat. That’s white.

I try to speak properly, most of the time – What, you chatting like a white lady now!

Buy hey, guess what?

I like organic food, because I grew up on a farm in the countryside and I know what fresh food taste like.

I shop at Ocado because they are the only ones who have delivered all my shopping ever. I have tried others. Don’t even think of ordering from Tesco at Christmas!

I shop at John Lewis, Net-A-Porter, Selfridges, Green and Black, Farrow and Ball and others, because I like nice things and when did liking nice things became only for white people?

I don’t smack my kids because I was smacked and I am breaking the abuse chain!

I like second-hand clothes because all those barrels sent over by foreign relatives had nothing but…

I like gardening and I like buying fresh flowers because oh that country-side childhood again…

You don’t know ME.

Who am I?

I am a woman. I have kids. I am married. We own our own home. I had a successful career. I chose to step off the career ladder to stay at home and look after my kids. I am a stay at home mother.

I was brought up in a home where class was never discussed; maybe because I was never brought up in England. You either had it or you didn’t.  My parents own their home. They taught me that in order to get what you want out of life you have to work hard for it.

And boy did I work hard. As I climbed the career ladder getting promotion after promotion, I never once thought that my race was of any importance  whether I could do my job or not. If I never got a job I never thought it was because I was black.

Now, as a mum I now find myself having to not only define myself as a black woman, but I also have to own my class too.

According to the English Dictionary, the definition of the middle class is as follows:

Middle Class – The social group between the upper and working classes, including professional and business workers and their families.

So I am now a middle class black mum.

Now why would you think I would need to define myself according to my class?

Can I not just be a woman? Well it seems I cannot.

I do not care for the British class system that’s why I can take on this title, Black middle class mum as I feel nothing for it.

I am a woman and I am not perfect.

Let’s get this hair topic out of the way now!

I am sick of talking about my hair, yet it seems that just like the British weather, my hair is the next go to topic of conversation after the kids. Enough already.

Here is the usual conversation I have at least once a month with one of my white girlfriends about my hair…

“No I don’t wash my hair everyday as it will dry out my scalp, also I have to put lots of oil in too after a wash, which takes ages.”

“Oh you don’t oil yours?”

“Oil would make my hair greasy and lank, so no, just a wash and blow dry.”

“Your hair looks great.”

“How’s DS getting on in his new class?”

Here is a conversation I have with my black girlfriends about my hair..

“Hey, I love your hair, where do you get it done? (Eye it up and possibly touch it!)”

“I go to this lady, she’s got the Gospel channel on throughout though, but the results are worth it and she’s reasonably priced! What you plan to do with your hair?”

“Not sure…might just cut it all off again!”

“You should check out my gospel lady first and get some plaits in.”

“No blooming way. I would rather twist it every night, than sit through the Gospel channel. I’ve already had enough religious brain-washing as a child to last me a lifetime.”

“Which church did you go to?”

“Don’t get me started…I’m an atheist now!”

(Doubles over with laughter)

How do I dress? Black or White and I don’t mean the clothes colour!

So, as a middle class black mum in London, how should one dress to stand out from the other black mums who are not? Of course, to most white middle class people, most black women are already summed up as a single mother, living in a council flat, eating out of Iceland, but how do you smash that myth? Well you have to start in the way you dress! A middle class black mum does not wear loud clothes and I mean skin tight multi-coloured, sparkly stuff with extra long nails and thigh high boots on the school run, whether they are in fashion or not! Your white girlfriends might be able to get away with this look, but guess what you won’t be!  If you would like to nurture some great friendships on both sides of the class divide, you will need to dress more demure! Think a bit churchy norm core, but with some trendy fashion pieces thrown in. I usually give Net-A-Porter a whirl for a bit of inspiration and buy one fashion piece per month from them. This could either be a lovely pair of shoes or a nice shirt, that shows off it’s superior quality and then mix that in with some plain high street numbers. You will be surprised how many people always spot the Net-A -Porter piece every time! When it comes to your hair though, that’s another story.

Wow, you live in that house?

As I stepped through the front door of my three-storey Victorian terrace house, heading out on the morning school run, I heard the following words from across the road by one of the white mums heading to school too. “Wow, you live in that house?” I smiled through gritted teeth. It’s not the first time I have had shocked faces from both black and white mums that I could possible afford a nice house in a trendy area. “Yes, I say, I do live in this house”. I close the gate behind me and pretend not to care.