‘You have to play the game’, he said.
We didn’t know each other. In fact, I had only been in his car for less than 5 minutes, after he picked me up from the airport.
But he felt the need to give me this piece advice. The same advice I gave to my brother a few years ago when his football coaches resorted to benching him for the majority of his games, despite him being the best striker on the team.
My Uber driver, let’s call him Brandon for argument’s sake, was a West Indian man, who looked about my dad’s age. He spoke about his story which I won’t divulge on here for the sake of writing space.
But in sharing his story it was so clear to me that there will be even harder times ahead for us.
You see the thing is no one ever teaches you all these unsaid rules.
No one taught me I had to play the game.
It was something I learned the hard way.
I genuinely think it is something that everyone has had to learn the hard way.
But this shouldn’t be the case.
We should pass on this knowledge to our younger siblings rather than just assume they will get it. We have a responsibility to teach them. This knowledge shouldn’t just be privileged information.
I was in secondary school, running for head girl when I learned.
My Uber driver lost his job before he learned.
My husband learned when he got into a fight at school which wasn’t his fault
When you start out on a graduate programme, specifically as a black woman, no one tells you that this is how it works here. Everyone around you just assumes you know your place until the day you step out of the invisible box they have put you in. Then you learn.
Those invisible rules and regulations, which were at one point so unnatural, become a part of your everyday life. They affect everything you do, to the point where you attend to them without noticing it anymore.
And for ease, you play the game. You get involved in conversations that you have no interest in, you go to drinks after work even though you don’t drink, you wear weave loud and proud even though you feel like wearing nothing but your fro in cornrows, you are careful not to say certain words for fear of coming across too black. You do all of this and still, you can’t be them.
And you know what that’s ok.
Seriously it is.
At times you will feel like it’s not, but it is.
To conclude, my Uber driver then went on to caution me with this advice and I have noted these below;
This is the game I’ve been playing since I was old enough to piece the rules together. And some days, the game exhausts me. Especially after weeks like this one, so I know this is not a usual post but it is something I felt compelled to share.
You don’t have to understand this post, you’re not meant to get everything, but you do get all of me – unfiltered, and you have to accept that without judgment and fear.
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