My girlfriend punched in the code for her credit card and paid for our theatre tickets. The guy then looked at me, said thank you so much, and asked for my name.
I thought it odd he wanted my name. She’d made the payment, it made sense to put the tickets under her name.
Maybe it was because I’d been flirting, but it left me feeling vaguely uncomfortable.
A bit like she was invisible.
We were early for the show so took a seat at the bar.
Whisky for me please.
I’ll have the same, Johnnie Walker Red, thanks.
The guy looked at me. Anything to eat?
I shook my head. He didn’t ask her, presuming I’d said no for both of us.
This time she didn’t smile, she raised an eyebrow. A perfect dark eyebrow.
Maybe, I thought, maybe she was actually invisible?
I pinched her just to check she was there.
Hey Violet come on what are you doing, ow, that hurt.
Yeah, she was there.
But what she is, and I’d known this all along, is a woman with a darker skin.
And apparently, in small white villages, people don’t see people with dark skins.
Genuinely do not see them.
It was a leftover, a remnant, from old South African days. White people spoke, black people did not. White people were treated well. Black people were not.
White people made decisions.
White people were heard.
White people were in charge.
And these two men, the theatre guy and the waiter (the owner of the restaurant actually) automatically deflected to me, being the white person.
It wasn’t because I’m gorgeous and lovely and flirted. I would love to believe it was. My friend is gorgeous and lovely and flirts well too.
It was because of the colour of our skin.
I am lily white. And therefore, I am seen.
And you know what.
It is not okay.
South Africa, it is just not okay.