colored

I’m at a bar with my Cape Town host, Lionel. In the course of our conversation, I hear him use the word, 'colored' multiple times. Finally, I ask, 'You keep saying that word, what exactly do you mean when you say it?' Lionel: 'It means mixed race.'

Me: 'Ohhhh... ok. We use that word at home, but it's just another way to refer to black people. It's antiquated, so it's mostly an in-group term.'

I continue, 'You know, I did notice when I arrived here that there was a whole set of people in CapeTown that I didn't really see in Jo’burg.'

Lionel (laughing): 'Yeah, in Jo’burg, you'd be hard pressed to find 3 colored people in any place. Hell, you'd be hard pressed to find 3 white people!'

He 's exaggerating... but only slightly. Later, we are at a bottle shop, where i'm purchasing 'supplies' (cuz, #RetailDrinkingIsForSuckas). A clearly inebriated, but totally harmless brotha strikes up a slurry convo with us. After a few exchanges with Lionel, in which he reveals he's from Congo, then declares, 'All Africa, one love!!' he turns to me. 'So, my sister, you're from here? You speak Zulu?' Lionel jumps in, protectively. 'She's colored. She speaks Afrikaans.'

Wait. What?