As a result, I based my life views and opinions (which were often so inaccurate) on the very limited exposure I had to the outside world.
One of my first memories of my family's interaction with a white person was when a burly stern white policeman ordered us off from a 'whites only' beach.
Thus, to me, as a child 'white people = scary people'
I remember seeing big boys with no top front teeth when we'd drive past the shop corner. My parents, who were both teachers at the two high schools in our area, would chat about who the notorious children at their respective schools were. Co-incidentally, all four of these kids had no top front teeth. In addition, one day the adult with whom I was walking in the Main Road, crossed the road to avoid some toothless youths who were interfering with passers-by.
So in my child's mind 'no front teeth = intimidating, non-law-abiding youths and gangsterism'
I have since learned that the 'the passion gap' is not necessarily only popular with Cape Flats gangsters, but with some ordinary 'coloured' folk too. According to this interesting article, one of the reasons for its popularity is based on a sexual myth (which I prefer not to get into, so to learn more about this, you'll have to read the aforementioned article) - and the other is fashion.
|Image taken from above-mentioned article|
So now, based on my early ingrained (albeit misguided) beliefs, imagine my alarm when Nuha (7), my precious princess, smiled at me after just having lost her second top incisor. I had to resist the urge to hand over my purse.
My princess has gone from this
...very sweet and unthreatening
Her older siblings, whose opinions and views on life have not been spoiled by stereotypes, think she looks really cool - like a little vampire. They absolutely love it!
Nuha, herself, is very pleased with her new look. Until recently, she'd been the only one in her class who had still not lost her teeth. She was very pleased to finally be fitting in with her mates, who are all at this age, sporting the toothless look. So a day after she lost her second tooth, I saw her looking in the rear-view mirror in the car.
"What are you thinking, my baby?" I asked worriedly, ready to reassure her that I would not let any Cape Flats gang try to recruit her.
"I'm thinking that I look pretty," she said smiling, shyly.
What a relief, I thought. Now please don't hurt me.