Still to this day, the late 1980’s song First Time, sung by Robin Beck and featured in the Coca Cola advertisement, rings in my head. The instant I hear the song, I empathise with the emotion of firsts. First time, first love, oh what feeling is this. Electricity flows like the very first kiss, the song goes on to say.
The song reminds me how firsts tend to etch positive, indelible memories we eagerly recall in admiration. I know firsts are typically special because they often transform and bridge the gap from where we are into the unknown. It is for this reason they are remembered as defining moments shaping how we act and who we are.
But then, not all transformative firsts are equal. There are some, no matter how much we try to find the good and the positive, where we simply can’t because the associated memories are nestled in a nest of trauma with thorny sharp lessons. Nevertheless, these firsts bring with them a naked and acute realisation that a part of our lives and bodies are defined in not so much what we do but by the contrast of who we are.
I imagine if you ask any Person of Colour (POC) living in America, across Europe, or many parts of the world, they may share with reluctance recollections of their first and sadly inevitable racial encounter.