(This Is) What Happens When There Are Only 2 Black Girls In An Establishment

Imagine idly climbing up the stairs for French classes on a certain weekday morning. Someone looks at you friendly, you smile but ignore that person and continue your laborious journey up the stairs. Then the person stops you and says (in French no less); ‘You’re D. aren’t you?’

You’re immediately confused, not only because you are definitely not D. but also because it is too early in the morning for you and you have not kicked into French mode yet. You’ve made the mistake of trying to translate to English in your head before answering, that always leads to awkward pauses. The nice person with the smiley face repeats the question again and this time you fully comprehend. ‘Non’, you reply and she says ‘Pardon…’ but she is speaking too fast so you smile, nod and walk away assuming she said something like ‘I thought you were D. sorry’

Great end to a chance encounter except you already know who D. is. You have not spoken to her yet but you have seen her several times. She is black like you, she has an afro like you and that is where the similarities end. D. is American, she is shorter and thinner, she is of a darker complexion and her afro is shorter than yours. But you know to some people all blacks look the same. You remember the first time someone ever told you that four years ago, it was a Chinese girl who said she thought black people looked alike and a few friends of yours found it funny and tried to argue that she got it wrong because it was not black people that looked alike but all Asians. You found it ironic.

Luckily this has given you the opportunity to talk to D. All other nationalities stick together, the Mexicans, the Dominicans, the Spanish, the Arabs, the Germans, the Swiss. They have told you that you are the first Nigerian in this place and you were surprised to see another black girl. It only made sense that you were at least friends. There was of course solidarity, from the first time you saw D. you became ‘hello/hi’ friends and always made sure to smile at each other.

So when the chance came you walked up to her and asked; ‘Are you D?’ You got her name wrong so she corrected you. You explained that someone thought you were her and she explained that the same thing had happened to her. People walked up to her asking if she was the one who did this or that so she figured they must have been referring to you. In that split moment you feel a bit of panic regarding the questions she has been asked as you are guilty of doing several things. Then she says; ‘You know what, now they are going to start thinking we are sisters.’

You found that funny but it happens. Any random 2 black people in a foreign place are either mistaken for each other or they become sisters or cousins.

That’s my life right now! I will hopefully be criticising something as soon as I am done learning the dance steps for B.E.G’s ‘Abracadabra’ (and I’m halfway there!!)

*Image totally unrelated I know, blame Mellowyel. They are a group of Korean-American rockers called Royal Pirates and I love their cover of Super Junior’s SORRY SORRY. Pumashock does RnB covers while they do rock covers…I have vowed to support them!


  1. haha! That happenes to me all the time foreign place or not. It got so bad once that the a friend of mine and I started responding to the others name! To make it more confusing, our names started with the same letter. We're from the same area. AND we both had curly hair >.<

  2. That was one thing I had to get used to when I moved out of naija for the first time. About races looking similar, it's really ironic isn't it? LOL

  3. Alice, it hardly happens to me! back in Nigeria, there was a girl whose name got mixed up with mine and so we exchanged names and decided to call ourselves twins. she is the person who looks like a Korean musician lol…we did not look alike at all. Myne, it is just too ironic but the odd thing is that no one ever stops to think how stupid it is. in most cases, people get offended while still believing that Japanese are really Chinese. it is like 'enough already'

  4. That is annoying indeed. Could that be filed under subtle racism? This might sound a little reductionist, but that's what happens when the media (wherever you are) is awash with people of one colour: fair/white. And often, people of colour (or of darker skin tone) are reduced to caricatures, and not perceived as objects of beauty that we look at (longer) and admire 🙁

  5. thanks for the comment cycads! you've got a point there. i feel it is indeed subtle racism because it is based on the premise that all ppl of a certain race look alike. it is really saddening to see people of colour being potrayed as caricatures in the media. it is even more infuriating when said people of colour happily adopt the caricatures as i have seen happen with some Africans pretending to be the African-Americans they have seen on TV (usually abroad). i used to believe that the internet age would change everything due to the magnitude of information online but it seems that does not make a difference. i mean every time i search for something related to Africa or black people the first 3 Google pages are always negative. for example while searching for journal articles on African female initiation ceremonies, more that 95% of the results focused on female genital mutilation, this despite me reading somewhere that most African ethnic groups don't even practice FGM.to be honest, i've sort of given up hope for a change 🙁

Comments are closed.