by Shirley Ahura, IRELAND
Last year, my friend and I got the crazy notion of buying tickets to see Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour in Dublin, Ireland firmly stuck in our heads. We just came back from what was a truly magical weekend, and as much as I tried, I couldn’t help but feel that many parts of our trip were tainted by some of my experiences there.
For the record, can I just say that I am in love with Ireland. A beautiful land of beautiful human beings, it really isn’t an exaggeration when they say that the Irish are the friendliest bunch on the planet. Nothing made me more sure of this than when my friend (a six foot gay Spanish guy clad in pink shorts and a vest top) and I (a fully cornrowed black feminist revolutionary) approached two dubious (read: chavvy)- looking Irish guys smoking on the street corner, asked for the directions to Croke Park Stadium, and neither of the men batted an eyelid- instead hurriedly and helpfully sending us on our merry little way.
But there’s always one (read: two or three). The first was in actual fact a Spanish woman who came with two gay guys and quickly befriended my friend. A relatively normal conversation was being had (did Lemonade really run it better than Beyoncé the visual album?), and there I was, as keen as ever, trying to keep up in my broken Spanish, when all of a sudden she turns to me and ‘jokes’, “We are black”.
Literally, I felt my face metamorphose into a massive question mark, for I truly had no idea what she was going on about. I shrugged it off (I’m sure many of you are familiar with the shrug) and joked back, “Really? I would never have known”. Fake smiles and all.
On another occasion, my friend (bless him, always trying to promote me) tells them about how I dance professionally, and that they should wait to see my moves. At this, ‘black’ Spanish homegirl turns to me with an expression that I can only describe as heart-eye emoji. In fact, the hearts in her eyes were throbbing so much, I turned away out of discomfort (but I could still feel her eyes boring into me and my cornrowed scalp). This all culminated in another extension of the ‘I want to be black’ parade that was so obviously happening with the Spanish woman taking centre stage. “I love” she said looking at me, “I wish I…”. She didn’t need to finish her sentence for me to know what was coming next, so I (at least mentally) exited stage left of the conversation.
[Sidenote, can I just say that I cringed so hard at the times when Beyoncé held up a Black Power fist and her Irish fans just stood in front of her like clones, emulating her except with less (read: no) meaning behind their own gestures, that if I wasn’t black you’d mistake me for a sweet and juicy Tesco’s Extra Special range cherry tomato].
Later on, we leave the concert and the air is literally buzzing with the love for Beyoncé from the Beyhive. An inebriated Irish girl doesn’t so much come up to me as she does sidesteps to me, picks up (read: grabs) a braid and goes “You’re so lucky you have braids”.
“You’re so lucky” Really.
After an eventful night of dancing to Beyoncé until ungodly hours of the morning in one of Dublin’s most happening gay clubs, an (again) intoxicated Irishman notices me and comes to sit across from me in the 24 hours Spar. “What’s the crack?” [Typical Irish phrase that I’ve come to love. Translation “ What’s new?” “Where you from, London?” [realising my uncertainty on how to answer and therefore my un-Irishness]
Reaches over to spud me (oh no) “Yes…bruv/blud (oh god no) (forget which one he uses, but they’re both as bad as each other).
Gets up to leave “…Tupac?”
What I got from this dilapidated state of verbal affairs was that because I was black I a) Naturally originated from London b) Naturally can only be greeted via spud and termed blud and cannot recognise any other way, informal or formal of saying hi as standard English goes c) Naturally listen to Tupac. “
I go “I may be black but I do other things….”
Analysis: It seems that one drop of alcohol literally opens the floodgates for people to speak their minds and unleash all they’ve wanted to say/what’s plagued their minds, intrigued and piqued their interest about blackness for so long.