Chapter 2 – Extract 10 from The Paradise Induction!
When I was sixteen, sat in the sauna of my local sports centre, a twenty-two year old Brazilian Bodybuilder said something that provoked both my disgust and agreement at the same time. “I like black people, but I can’t stand -.” He used the word colonial masters utilised to keep their slaves in check. The same word unnecessarily proclaimed by Hip-Hop artists in abundance.
“What?” I replied in shock.
“He means black people that act out aggressive, rude, and ignorant,” said a black lady sat in the room with us. “You know the type.”
On another occasion in the sauna, an Indian woman said to me, “I knew you were different. When I saw you, I knew you were not like them. I could tell.”
I was aware of exactly what she meant. There was a clear stereotype of what London black youth were, stemming from American Hip Hop culture. Black guys were tagged as rough and ready, uneducated and proud of it, dressing to represent ghetto-life with chains and over-sized basketball shirts, speaking slang with arrogance, and gladly disrespecting women. I didn’t match.
At nineteen, an incident with a guy called Mattox at my sports centre amplified my growing bitterness intensely.
I had exercised and trained in Martial Arts so that if a physical altercation ever occurred with one of these specific types of aggressors—namely a black guy giving me grief for no apparent reason—I would be able to handle myself. With Mattox, I was given a chance to prove what I’d learnt.
Mattox, a twenty-four year old who was as dark as charcoal, regularly approached me in the gym.
“You’re getting big bro,” he said as he pressed and caressed my arms. “Yeah, real big bro,” he continued.
“Thanks Mattox,” I said, letting my eyes recede. His voice was eerily light and didn’t match the well-defined, muscular build he had. He was slightly shorter than me, but nothing could have prepared me for his ‘other persona.’