Times are Changing

Her friend smiled. “You’re not looking yourself, Zahra. Are you alright, dear?”

Zahra was having difficulty disguising her cheerlessness. “Sorry, I have issues but I shouldn’t allow them to impact on friends.”

Anna smiled. “It’ll pass, all things do.”

However, something about her friend’s expression suggested to Anna that her words brought Zahra little comfort. The mixed-race young woman who had been her close friend for several years had a faraway look in her eyes.

“Some things do, some things don’t and there are some things you cannot change.”

There was a weary resignation in her friend’s voice. Anna, now concerned placed her cup down on the table. She squared her shoulders and decided to give her best friend Zahra whatever support she could. “Come on, unload, I am your friend for goodness sake.”

Her friend was downcast. “Anna, I don’t feel I belong anymore. Once, people like my hippy mum and Afro dad were considered cool. They afterwards split as it didn’t work out. I think their relationship was built on a need to make some sort of political statement but people don’t think that way anymore.”

Ann’s concern was self-evident. “What on earth are you talking about, dear, you have lost me.”

Her friend explained that there had been a shift in attitudes. “People like us are discriminated against, like we don’t belong.  It’s alright for you, I know you’re liberal but you’re white.”

Anna felt uncomfortable. Her mixed-race friend was beginning to sound like a racist.  “Zahra, what on earth has the colour of my skin got to do with anything, we are human beings?”

Her friend sighed: “It has everything to do with everything. You liberals made a big mistake.  You deceived yourself into thinking you held the moral high ground. You thought that you were right, everyone else was wrong and you said that societal those attitudes would change. You type got away from it because you were supported by a fashion for mixed race relationship. These from the 1970s onwards were promoted and anyone who disagreed was denounced.”

The furrows on Ann’s brow deepened further. Her friend seemed to be speaking in a strange language. She felt she did not want to hear any more. Her friend however continued.

“Well, things did change but not the way you imagined them to, Ann. You are a liberal but people just don’t think like you anymore.”

“You’re crazy,” her friend murmured

But, the coloured girl’s liberal friend knew she was being hypocritical.  It was true that she had once dated black guys and for several months had also been in a relationship with an Asian. With the benefit of hindsight, Ann was glad that none of her off-ethnic relationships resulted in children being born. The relationships would have ended and she would have literally been left holding the baby.

Eventually, Ann had formed a conventional relationship. Then, due to her husband’s better and more natural instincts she had since eschewed much of her teenage fantasies about the rainbow coloured world. She realised that hers was a self-deception on a par with the fantasies of religious zealots who talked of lions lying down with lambs. How could she have been so blind?

One night when her husband was on night duty, Ann had dug out a long hidden cache of private mementoes. By the time her husband had arrived home the entire diary and photographic evidence of her previous off-ethnic relationships had been destroyed. To make absolutely certain that her past indiscretions would not catch up with her, Ann distanced herself and her husband from all past friendships and she changed her social life.

As with so many changing political and fashionable stages the fantasy rainbow world of the race-mixers had long evaporated. Perhaps attitudes had changed because of the once refugee crisis. A fashion for social engineering once considered cool now filled people with disgust? Liberals and Leftists could hide their dirty washing by burning the once cherished photographs. But, her friend Zahra couldn’t hide her parents’ shame and thoughtlessness.

Those whose past lifestyles were no longer acceptable had unfairly placed the burden of their once liberal indiscretions on the shoulders of their children.  A Chief Police Officer surmised before being silenced by political correctness that children of mixed race relationships are rejected by both parent’s ethnic types. Without roots they feel they don’t belong.

Zahra looked at her friend and realised that values they once shared no longer existed. Both had been living the liberal lie. Ann could walk away from it; Zahra could not and had to bear her parent’s mistakes.

EXCERPT Europe Arise, Michael Walsh