Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The racism of strangers

On the bus two old women were admiring my daughter. Of course they were - she's lovely. She smiled, they cooed, she giggled, I was proud - everyone was happy. The one of them turned to the other: "She's a lovely little girl," she said. "You don't get many blond haired blue eyed children about these days do you."

I am jewish. To those tuned in to such things, I look jewish. My skin is, hmmm - olive? swarthy? a little darker anyway. My hair is brown. My eyes are hazel, whatever that means.

A little later one of the women turned to me. "Where does she get her colouring?" she said.

Here's what I said:
"From my husband. He's fair."

Here's what I wish I had said:
"I don't know, we bought her from gypsies who stole her from a white family."


  1. But you didn't say that because you're a pleasant, kind and lovely person who, while not agreeing, understands that older people may have a slightly misguided view of modern Britain.

  2. Sigh. I have calculated that it is genetically possible for M and I to have a fair (possibly even ginger) baby. I wonder if we'd get similar comments? Must remember the 'boughtfrom gypsies' line.

  3. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha "we bought her from gypsies"

  4. My daughter has striking red hair, which somehow is an invitation for complete strangers to feel like they should interrupt my dinner. I have brown/blonde hair and my hot wife's hair is a lovely chestnut. When I'm asked where she gets the red, I stand up and usually have to ask them to stop touching her. (Why it's okay for complete strangers to touch my daughter is beyond me. I wouldn't contemplate going up to a woman, stroking her hair and asking why it's the color it is.) In five years when you find me in prison it will likely be because I've kicked someone in the ovaries for caressing my daughter's cheek. Once, in a lighter mood, I did say her hair was a wig and that she's dying of cancer.

  5. Of course an even better answer would have been "Cossack rape, 150 years ago."