Lately, I have been the wingman for a friend who’s in the dating pool. We will call it a wingman, even though the social distancing norms basically have it so that no going out happens. Basically, I need to make decisions based on a photo. One single photo of a pretty girl is all I get before I give my official sign-off or red cross. Talk about a presumptuous first impression! I mean, if he loses his “one” because my vision isn’t 20-20, that’s on him, right? Needless to say, my assumptions have been very biased and stereotypical…
While I can’t quite tell you just how his story ends, it has gotten me thinking about all the assumptions people have about me that aren’t quite true. Interestingly enough, the majority of these assumptions are quite far off and stereotypical. I assume this is because of my nurture, not so much my nature.
Disclaimer: this post is not intended to offend anyone, and is merely my way of making light of awkward assumptions.
The biggest stereotype: I know how to dance
You know how they say that black people were born with rythm? We basically came out of the womb doing the two-step and nodding our heads to our heartbeats… Yeah well, call me an Oreo or whatever because I cannot dance to save my life. Rhythm is a skill that I had to learn. It wasn’t by choice though, as moving to Angola after university meant that I was spending almost every weekend at a wedding. And if you need to know anything about Angolan weddings, just know that they last for days, you are expected to dress to kill and dance really well.
All the wedding receptions were pretty much the same… The guests arrive and drink for hours before the bride and groom decide to make an entrance about three hours later. And then they have their first dance and open the buffet. This is the part where the dance shoes come on and don’t come off for eight hours.
So after embarrassing myself quite a few times trying to dance kizomba, semba, and samba, my cousin finally taught me the basics. And this is after spending two years in a hip-hop dance group at my university! I say that with pride when really, I was the token black girl that had a permanent spot in the back. I don’t blame them, though – your girl can’t dance!
I’m a big spender
This is an interesting one that never quite made any sense to me until I moved to Angola. You see, Angolans have a reputation for buying flashy things and swiping left, right and centre. I can proudly say that isn’t the case for me – my bank account wouldn’t allow it! It would be nice to just take a weekend trip to Dubai and come back with a receipt for a brand new car… Maybe I should look for a rich uncle or something because that would really be nice!
Anyways, back to the stereotype – spending. I did have a brief moment in life when I thought I was seriously rich. It was when I slept over at my friend’s apartment – that her dad purchased for her university stay- in the middle of Roppongi. Roppongi! Okay, that probably isn’t saying much, so let’s put it this way… If you have money and want to stay in a very nice place in Tokyo, surrounded by attractions and expensive restaurants, go to Roppongi/Ginza. So staying there made me think I was rich for a very brief moment when woke up disoriented, in the 1000 TC sheets. And then I remembered, I didn’t actually own the place.
Related: 4 Reasons why I don’t miss living in Japan
People assume I don’t speak English
I find this funny because whenever I go somewhere new and people hear that I’m from Africa, they just assume that I don’t speak English. Why that is the case is beyond me… Here’s the mind-boggling part; there are 54 countries in Africa and 24 of them speak English. If you were just guessing off the top of your head and you assumed I did speak English, you’d have a 44.44% chance of getting it right!
Having had the opportunity to trot the globe quite a bit, I don’t get surprised anymore when people say “your English is so good” or “wow how come you speak English?” Initially, I used to get upset, but my twisted humour has since taken over. Now I concoct a story about pet lions, or whatever else people want to hear about Africa. In my defense, I’ve had a kitten… a feline… and lions are cats… See! Not a lie at all!
I can’t swim
Firstly, I’m not quite sure who came up with the theory that black girls can’t swim… I know there are several reasons why we wouldn’t want to get chlorine in our hair, but that doesn’t mean we all don’t swim.
Growing up, I learnt one of the most valuable lessons in life – how not to drown. If you are reading this and would like to politely correct me and say that it’s called swimming, that’s not what I was doing at six years old. I remember being told to swim the width of the pool without assistance for the first time ever. Before they let us do it, they asked us several times if we felt ready. And I said yes with conviction. It was such a proud moment for me… until it wasn’t.
It’s funny thinking about it, but back then I completely forgot how to breathe. Was I supposed to lift my head up, turn it to the side or just roll over completely? As the panic welled up, I found myself making a sharp right and swimming as fast as I could to the end of the pool. If you have studied math, then you know that turning right when crossing the width of a rectangle isn’t the shortest distance. Well, little six-year-old me didn’t realise that. So I swam as fast as I could to the shallow end of the pool. After that, I was put on the swim team and won several gold and silver medals!
I’d like to know, what assumptions people have had about you?
Well, there you have it – the most annoying assumptions people have made about me.
Let’s keep the ball rolling. I have selected a few bloggers to answer this million-dollar question, but feel free to do so if you’d like to take part!
And you, dear reader. What are some stereotypical assumptions people have made about you?