I’m hoping you have managed to catch up on the story about Samuel L Jackson being mistaken for Laurence Fishburne, live on air in the US. A ex-colleague what'sapped it to me the other day, as he knew this situation had happened to me on numerous occasions (not being mistaken for Laurence Fishburne, or Samuel LJ for that matter, but being mistaken for other brown people), and although we used to have an incredulous laugh about it, it’s pretty damn unacceptable, really.
So back in the day my BestDamnFriend (BDF) and I used to look a tad similar, I guess – medium height, mocha brown, relaxed black hair; she however was a svelte slip of a thing, whilst my hips don’t lie – know what I’m sayin’? And okay we used to have a little joke with the students that we were sisters. But the adults always knew the truth. Anyway, a decade has since passed, 5 kids between us later and I have lost the age and weight contest with BDF; I also decided to take the Afro train a year ago. Yet still we were mistaken for each other by grown adults. We were treated to mistaken identity extraordinaire one lunch duty when a staff member approached us, whilst we were standing together. She started a conversation with me regarding an incident which had happened the previous day or week. During the tale she insisted that she had spoken to me before, to which I look confused. She continued to assure me that we had spoken about the issue a number of times. Glancing at BDF I saw a look, roughly translated as “She got us brown people mixed up”. So I decided to help a woman out, and again repeated that I hadn't had the conversation with her before, but maybe she was getting me mixed up with someone else. BDF jumped in and informed the staff member that it was in fact her, not me.
At this point I was okay about the mistake; people get other people confused. It happens. But then she waved her hand between the two of us as she acknowledged her mistake, meaning…well who knows... we looked similar, she thought we were twins, we were interchangeable? It was the blasé way she felt it was acceptable that she had confused two very different looking people – whose only similarity was now the colour of their skin. No apology, nada.
And I’ve seen it happen to Asian colleagues who have repeatedly been confused with two or three other Asian woman. Now if it’s happening to adults who have different names, jobs, offices, voices, personalities. What on earth is happening to students all walking around in the same uniform? Just saying…