Sometimes, there’s this thing where I almost feel like . . . I see especially Africans, . . . that I almost see them as though I’m white myself. Do you understand what I mean? I catch myself looking at them with white eyes. I can’t explain what it is. Like there are two levels: I can see Africans and mulattoes and then think of myself as different, they remind me of that. But I can also look at them, like look at them and think . . . they are very different. Without involving myself.
The earliest thing I remember is probably something like walking down the street and somebody shouting, ‘look mum, there goes a Negro’. I remember that it was very unpleasant. . . . Because of this feeling of being confronted by another child with how different you were. Also because I didn’t think of myself as different.
. . . With the reggae music came all the explanations, well, I knew them, but they were repeated over and over again: We are from Africa, the white people took us across the ocean, we suffered and we were slaves and so on, but we made it, we are still proud, we think of ourselves as Africans who have been deported, . . . you know all that, that it was just being repeated over and over again. And it gave some sort of identity.
The unpleasant kind of racism, that’s the one where . . . you could say . . . that it doesn’t really matter what kind of a person you are, because your basic problem is, you could say, the wrong genes, in their eyes. That’s the scary kind.
This project was part of Sharjah Biennial 7.
Between Five Stools by Mike Salomon
Solvej Dufour Andersen
Courtesy of the artist