When I went for psychoanalysis, the therapist asked me if I was angry at my mother. ‘No,’ I said. ‘I’m not angry, I’m just sad.’ But then I thought about it, all the neglect and emotional trauma and abandonment and fear, and everything that I had been bottling up for years came tumbling out with a squall of tears.
‘I guess I am pretty fucking angry at my mother, actually.’
She just… wasn’t very good. Not at being a mother, anyway. One prime example of her lack of maternal sense involved her marriage. She was married and separated before I was born (although she didn’t divorce him until years afterwards – I was already living with my grandparents when I heard that he’d had to track her down so he could remarry) and the only details she ever gave me were that he was called Roy and they had two cats who trashed the curtains.
This turned out to be a load of old bollocks.
They probably did have two cats, but my mum’s ex-husband isn’t called Roy at all. Roy is a very white name, isn’t it? Well, it turned out that he’s actually called Leroy. Leroy is originally from Kingston, Jamaica and is definitely, unmistakably, not white. It was my dad – the drunken spiller of any-and-every secret – who told me. He thought it was fucking hilarious that she’d lied to me. ‘Ask your nan and grandad if you can have a look at the wedding photos. You’ll fackin’ love ’em.’
He was right: I did. It looked like John Shaft got married to Red Rum in a ginger wig and a lacy dress. I was more shocked at the size of my mother’s real teeth than anything else. And my grandad was wearing flares, and my nan had a bouffant. The photos were pure art.
I asked my mum why she lied. Her exact words to me were: ‘Well… I thought your dad might bring you up to be racist.’ What… what the fuck does that even mean? I thought your dad might bring you up to be racist… so I thought I’d just let him get on with it? I’ve never spent more than four days in a row alone with my dad, so how would he have the chance to brainwash me like that? I’m guilty of some disturbing logic sometimes, but I honestly can’t figure out what she was thinking.
My dad is a racist. And he did try to encourage it in me. But either I was told at an early age that my dad is an utter cretin and I shouldn’t listen to a word he says, or I figured it out for myself when I was still young. His fascism wasn’t something that dominated our conversations (probably because I would just walk off) but he is so full of hate. What a waste of a person.
Most of my family aren’t (or weren’t, depending on breathing status) exactly innocent themselves, mind you – I never saw the same level of animosity that I did with my dad, but I grew up in a household where people did not say they were popping to the ‘corner shop’ or ordering ‘Chinese food’. They had selective xenophobia, twisted to fit bullshit logic: I like <group a>, because they come over here to actually work. I don’t like <group b>, because they come here and steal our jobs. My dad got arrested around fifteen years ago for benefit fraud – £22,000 over a number of years. My mum is guilty of similar shit. Yet they are allowed to vote, and that kind of logic is how they make their decisions.
(I just want to point out that although I swear like a fucking docker, and generally, in certain circumstances, consider most words to be ‘just words’, I don’t feel comfortable using that kind of derogatory language. British people will most likely understand what I was alluding to in the last paragraph, but if not, or if you’re from anywhere else in the world, just substitute those examples of casual racism with terms you have heard. It’s all the same, really.)
My nan was terribly worried about being seen as a racist. Apparently she would only refer to Leroy’s race using outdated terms for black people (but not that one), never once daring to call him ‘black’ because she was so anxious not to offend. In case he hadn’t noticed his skin colour, perhaps? On the other hand, my grandad had an irrational phobia of asylum seekers and repeatedly told me to stay away from them. (‘Do you want me to ask him if he’s even actually from Bosnia before I tell him to fuck off and set off the rape alarm?’ ‘Shut up.’) I’m not sure why he felt that way. I tried asking him, but he would immediately get suspicious of why I was asking, assuming I was going to try to change his mind, causing him to get overly defensive. I’m certain many terrible opinions are formed as a defence mechanism to cope with change. There were suddenly lots of unfamiliar people and the natives were bewildered by the newcomers. They felt suspicious, and the media fanned the flames and told the people what they wanted to hear (and the people wanted to be right) so it became okay to be suspicious. When something bad happened, aha! I was right about them. All of them. They behave like animals.
(You treat people like fucking animals.)
And this is the problem. Alienationalism. Some people can’t relate to other parts of humanity. They genuinely can’t see the light and the life in other people’s eyes, or understand what has been lost when that light and life has been beaten and blown out of them.
There are bad people. There are good people.
Some people do bad things. Some people do good things.
I kind of hate people, sometimes.