Believe it or not, Europeans have a very strange idea of what it means to be black and American. Some people only consider very, very dark people, black. The rest of us with even the slightest hint of milk chocolate or caramel tones are considered 'mixed'. Some think they know too much, and try to tell me that I shouldn't be ashamed of my African roots which always gets me salty. Then it dawns on me that they think I'm talking about Ghana, when I say I'm from Guyana. We get a map, clear up the confusion and all is well. And then there are the really daft ones. Like the Italian, Robert, for whom no geographical (or logical) intervention is enough.
I should have known from the minute his bright orange trousers woke me from my sleepy Sunday routine in my favorite café that he would be an ass. But no, my faith in humanity took over and I let him in. I let him talk me into having dinner with him that night. I mean, this is Barçelona and all men are on that fuck-first-eat-on-your-own-time schedule. I was beginning to think chivalry was the dead horse everyone continued to kick mercilessly. Then he came along, in his really Italian pants with his really Italian talk. I accepted his dinner invitation. In spite of the fact that he kept popping his collar like someone was questioning his authority. It was like some unconscious need to physically reassert his dopeness, again and again.
Despite this, I wasn't hating our Greek meal. After our very tasty vegetarian entreé, the conversation turned to America. Now all Europeans think they know American history. So none of our heated discussion was new to me. Until he started telling me about the pinnacle of American history. The 1920's to be exact. When Italians ruled America, like Frank Sinatra and Al Capone. When black people did not have the cultural or political power to have any influence. Besides, black people were only freed from slavery in 1965. By Martin Luther King. I swear. This is what he said. He also said he was a novelist.
This man still expected me to lick the very cojones he had to say all this to my face.