Chapter 2 – Extract 4 from The Paradise Induction!
I was the only black boy in the class. And I was one among seven in the entire Victorian-looking Church of England primary school of two hundred and sixteen pupils.
The girls had kissed the other boys in my class because they were white, but they wouldn’t touch me, because I was black…and I was dirty.
“Stand up! Is everything out of your pockets?,” said the airport security guy.
“Yes,” I replied.
The staff outside the glass box continued to smile at each other, but didn’t make any eye contact with me.
I attempted to smile at them to share in the joke, but they kept their gaze between each other and when they met my eyes, they painted their faces with frowns.
“Now, listen to my instructions!” said the security guy, still shouting. “I want you to raise your hands up! I’m going to scan you! I then want you to take several paces forward so I scan your back, and await further instructions! Do you understand what I am saying?”
“Yes,” I mumbled.
“Yes. Yes, I understand.”
“Good! Now raise your arms!”
I lifted my arms and let his scanner peruse my limbs and torso.
As time moved on through my infant days, rejection from white children pushed me to seek kinship among other black kids. But this proved laughable…literally.
At age seven, I used to be dropped off at Battersea Park Playcentre—a place for children on school holidays from single parent households, or kids simply seeking mischief. I fell in the former category. My parents were divorced and both had to work, which meant my younger brother, younger sister and I needed supervision.
The playcentre bungalow—equipped with a pool table, pottery and arts room, and a lounge area—had a fierce odour that told me the boys around were older.