Amok Mama: White man syndrome

Jacinta Nandi's German mate is suffering from white man syndrome and she thinks it sounds awful.

“I just got back from China,” says a German friend.

“Oh,” I say. “That’s nice. Was it nice? Did you eat any dogs? Or cats? What did they taste like?”

“That’s so racist. You’re so racist sometimes. You’re always lecturing me about racism, and then you come out with shit like that.”

“Was that racist of me? Really? I was just wondering. Melanie ate some dog when she went to Hong Kong, she said. I mean, maybe she was lying. Maybe she was being racist. But I was just wondering.”

“You just think you’re allowed to be racist because you’re not white,” he says, accusingly.

I say: “Yeah.”

He looks at me, opens his mouth, closes it again, and then squints disapprovingly.

“Is that what you actually really think, Jacinta?”

“Well, no,” I say. “I’m not allowed to be racist. And I am, actually, a lot of the time, a bit racist, you know, a little bit, and that’s really bad. That’s not allowed. Like you know the other day at Ryan’s school? I was talking to these two little girls – two little black girls – and I thought they looked alike and I asked them if they were twins. And they said no. So then I thought to myself: ‘Oh, fuck, Jacinta, you racist prick, you just thought they looked alike because they’re both black.’ And so I said to the girls: ‘You don’t look anything alike, I wasn’t looking properly.’ And then they gave me this really puzzled look – kids look so grown-up when they look at you, all puzzled-like, don’t they? Like this one time when I accidentally gave Ryan Hello Kitty knickers to wear. They looked at me all puzzled and were, like: “Well, we are sisters, actually.” So you know. I was just being racist on so many different levels.”

“I’m not sure how racist that was, actually. Sometimes I think you just mix racism up with general social incompetence.”

“But, still. No matter how racist I am, I’ll never be as racist as you.”

He purses his lips at me like he’s in a Mills & Boon novel.

“Because I’m a German, right?” he mutters darkly.

“No!” I say happily. “Just stop whingeing on about the Holocaust, for fuck’s sake. Not because you’re German. Just because you’re white. I mean, to be honest, I feel quite sorry for you, really. No matter what you do – no matter how many petitions you sign – no matter how careful you are – no matter how many times you say the ‘N-word’ instead of you know – saying it out loud – and no matter what I do – like, I could literally black up for Halloween, join the Klu Klux Klan and get a swastika tattooed onto my forehead – no matter what – you’ll always be more racist than me. Because you’re white. You poor thing.”

“And now you’re being racist against white people,” he says bitterly.

“I’m not,” I say. “But even if I were, it wouldn’t count, coz racism against white people doesn’t count. Coz, you know, you’re the perpetrators and that. But actually I feel really, really, really sorry for you guys. You know, like, what the Top Gear boys said about Mexicans? Imagine waking up in the morning and remembering you were Mexican?”

“No, but carry on.”

“Well, you must wake up in the morning, remember that you’re white, and just feel, like, really, really, really guilty.”

“Actually, no, most days I’m okay.”

“I mean, that’s assuming you manage to get to sleep at night in the first place.”

“You think I have all this racist white guilt that gives me insomnia at night?”

“And you’re not just white,” I say merrily. “You’re a white man. Fuck. I feel so sorry for you, honestly. It must be awful, living with that Schicksal. I mean, you have done all bad things that have happened in the history of bad things. Rape, slavery, colonialism, Steuerhinterziehung, not introducing the Frauenquote, Axe adverts. You must feel really, really bad, every day. I feel so sorry for you.”

“It’s great you’re capable of so much sympathy.”

“So come on,” I say. “Tell me the truth. Did you eat dog? And what did it taste like?”

“You know what your problem is, Jacinta?” He says. “You never know when to stop.”