I watched the strangest and saddest little YouTube video the other night; entitled ‘I’m African, He’s Jamaican’. A more apt name for the disconcerting post would have been ‘Random crap on your feed, which you can’t unsee, but wish you could’. (Although I don’t suppose that has much of a ring to it.) Having seen close to a billion of this type before; ‘I’m black, He’s Jewish’, ‘I’m Muslim, He’s Hindu’, ‘I’m a Martian, She’s TransDimentional’ (you get the drill), I waited for the anthem of the love-sick and the deluded: ‘I got mushy with someone across the border. Let’s throw Racism a leaving party.’ What eventually transpired though, would turn out to be something of a far more dark and troubling nature…
Beating King Kanye, in order to be crowned ‘The World’s Most Psychologically Disturbed Black Man’ is a great feat indeed, close contenders Gilbert Arenas and Kodak Black fought an admirable battle, but I believe this year’s victor to be YouTuber Shakeel Romero. Throwing his audience a curve ball, Romero’s video was not in fact an informal chit chat about the slings and arrows of cross cultural relationships, as his title suggested; but more an impromptu and unsolicited rendition of the Beyonce hit ‘Why don’t you love me’ (sort of). Viewers quickly learned that the beautiful Somalian woman sitting beside Mr Romero, had so far resisted the ‘charms’ and clutches of the Muslim convert, much to his chagrin.
Any avid connoisseur of YouTube dross knows that you try your absolute damnedest not to make snap judgments in the opening moments of an upload; and Reader I tried, I really did. But, the mere act of witnessing Romero’s laboured interactions with Somali Muslim, Somaha, (don’t know if I spelled that right) was something akin to the sound of frayed fingernails dragged across a school room blackboard. Somaha, having spotted a band of rogue hairs deciding to make a break for it, noted the ‘frizzy’ appearance of her tresses on screen. Dim witted Shakeel’s antidote was one of enlightenment. On the off chance that Somaha had been absent from any small part of her existence, or never met her own parents, Romero reminded her that she was after all ‘East African’. And thus the riddle of the frizzy hair was solved. Embarrassingly for the YouTuber he had mistaken the word ‘frizzy’ as a synonym for the word ‘curly’ (It’s hard for some people). Romero unwittingly revealed himself to be hair brained, but like literally hair brained. His confusion was an example of the Freudian Slip if ever there was one. Somaha to him was not a woman, but a headful of loose curls upon which to hang his distorted and disturbed projections of beauty.
Readers will be happy to know that there was to be more horrifying hairbrainery; Shakky in all his wisdom thought it necessary to let the lovely Somaha know that Somalian women were of the kind, that men wanted to date because (and I quote) ‘ you have long beautiful hair, your skin is dark, but it’s still smooth’. Yes, I nearly dropped dead on the floor too. You’ll be alarmed to know that this is not the worst of it; Romero’s desire to visit the country (though it is a region to those of us who possess brain cells) named ‘East Africa’, was tempered by his fear that his hair, being of a courser texture, would make him stand out in the newly formed Republic. So much so that in his own words he tried to get ‘waves going’. Feel free to breath when ready. The crescendo of the monomaniac’s hair raising performance saw Romero dreaming of a future starring himself, Somaha and some ‘crinkly haired kids.’ A plate of hand rolled dysfunction to table seven please.
I wish I could say that dear old Shakeey improved on further watching, but like a prospective boyfriend who shows up late on a first date; he didn’t. In fact he began to err on the side of desperate, and dare I say it; creepy. With the uncomfortable spectacle taking on all the appearance of a silent and prolonged tango. Somaha attempted to explain the fundamentals of Somali parental expectations. Romero wanted to know why their expectations couldn’t be reconfigured to encompass a Jamaican shaped son-in-law. Somaha attempted to explain the intricate nature of Somali familial ties. Romero like a child of six, asked why said ties could not be loosened. Somaha explained that for Somalis being Muslim alone was not necessarily the only qualification needed to get the green light for a marriage to a beloved daughter. To which Romero replied ‘why won’t you accept us Revert Muslims?’.
And there it was! The apex of this excruciating dance. Romero could not bring himself to ask Somaha to reverse the curse of his West African heritage. Nor did he have the courage to admit his need for the love and validation of women opposite to his own image. He, like so many black men, desired a Beauty; in order to erase the stain of the Beast. I feel for my sisters descended from Africa’s Horn, admired and despised in equal measure for their perceived proximity to the European aesthetic. No woman wants to be fetishised and worse reduced to nothing more than a hair type. The ‘hair type’ that opens old wounds and rifts within African communities.
Of course Romero ended on a finale of deprecation, referring to long suffering Somaha as ‘Little East African girl’. Let us all hope that when he finally does take a trip to the small non-existent country of ‘East Africa’, a good pilot might be kindly employed to lose his way. If not; ladies you have been warned…