"You're blacker than I remember." A friend said. I would be lying if I didn't admit to knowing what he meant. He met me when I lived in Nigeria. You're never blacker than when your blackness is challenged. There were no challenges to my skin there. Every face was as dark as mine.
I walked into the Hawksmoor on Air Street with Obi. The Hawksmoor is one of those places that you go to spite your wallet. It doesn't matter that you lose the battle in the end. All that matters is that you rebelled. There was something that said that you could not, and you showed it that you could.
We walked in off the street, without a reservation. Our reception was hesitant, maybe even cold. We said two for drinks and they said they'd see if they had room. Moments like that are dangerous when you're black. You may never say it, but you'll surely always think it. You'll ask yourself if it's because you don't look like the vast majority of their customers, and then the words of your parents will come back to haunt you. "Dress the way you'd like to be addressed." I wonder why I didn't wear a blazer and a shirt. My distressed jacket is more Shoreditch than Piccadilly.
We were taken up and the bar was empty. Obi whispered, "racism."
I didn't think it before he said it, but the moment he did, I considered it.
"No they can't possibly be racist!" I said.
"Do you ever use your inside voice?" Obi asked.
Two minutes later, our ten minute wait for someone to take our order came to an end. The waiter was so friendly that I was uncomfortable. I thought that it had to be because I'd said the R word. It had to be. What else could lead to a change in attitude so profound that I thought that it seemed like they had been arrested by the Holy Ghost?
R word or no I'll return. There's really no better place for an Esspresso Martini, and their steaks are divine. Is that wrong?