Comedian Aidan Jones is returning to Fringe World in 2020 with his new show Taco, all about meeting his South American biological father for the first time. Jones’ skin colour and identity as a whole has been a major narrative in his life but he’s always been one to see the funny side of things. He shared his five reasons “it’s okay to be brown” ahead of hitting Belgian Beer Cafe from January 18 until February 9 (get more info and tickets here).
I’m Australian, and my whole family is white, but I’ve got this brown skin because my Mum was backpacking in South America at the start of the 90s, came home to Adelaide, and found out she was pregnant. That’s me! He was Colombian. I actually went to meet him for the first time in my life in September 2019, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the skin that has been his lifelong legacy to me. Here are some things I enjoy about it.
It still blows my mind when one of my white friends will tell me they can’t go outside for too long on hot days, or when they’ll show up somewhere all red and skin peeling because they have done. I wear sunscreen at the beach, cannot remember the last time my skin peeled even a little bit. I also am very aware of how cocky I sound right now, considering I’m not that dark, and would have to see the funny side if skin cancer came to give me a dose of humility later in life. But for now, sucked in ya pasty losers!
I spent the summer of 2011/12 in Bolivia working as a volunteer journalist with a bunch of Europeans and Americans. When we arrived they warned us about thieves and pickpockets operating in the markets and on the streets at night time. This one Dutch guy called Melle was 6ft with bleach blonde hair and pale white skin, he had his phone taken four times (FOUR!!) in the three months he was there. In four months doing the exact same job, I didn’t have a single problem, not once.
I know what you’re really asking, and honestly it’s fine, I know it’s just the small talk people ask when they meet each other, same as asking what someone does for work or how their day was. But it never stops being funny to me to see people notice my skin colour, ask a question based on it, and then pretend that actually they didn’t notice at all because they’re scared.
And following on from that, it’s funny to laugh about these instances with other people who have had similar experiences. Last year in Perth a lady came up to me on the street, asked where I was from, and when I answered, “Australia, but my biological father was Colombian”, she beamed, and told me how lovely it was that there are people like me in our country.
This one is a bit of a tricky one, but I count myself as very lucky that because my skin isn’t really that dark, and because my whole family is white, more often than not people just assume that I’m white too. I’m really as white as it’s possible to be without being a full member. I’m lucky that these trivial instances of casual racism don’t affect me that much, because my life has been full of privilege, but it’s not like this for everyone.