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Athena KugblenuAthena Kugblenu

These weird assumptions about black people feed my Edinburgh show

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Athena Kugblenu is a stand-up comedian. She's also mixed race. Her debut show at Edinburgh Festival "finds a new way to talk about politics, class, race and identity". BBC Three caught up with her to talk it all through...

I think about race a lot.

I'm mixed race - half Indo-Caribbean and half Ghanaian - but for most people, it’s easier to see me as black.

This is a label I am wholly comfortable with even though it comes with a lot of assumptions. Here are six of the stranger ones I’ve experienced over the years:

I couldn’t possibly like Radiohead

I once had a group of work colleagues telling me about the great time they all had at a Radiohead concert the night before – it had never occurred to them to invite me. When things like that happen initially, I feel a bit excluded. Then I realise I am being excluded from a work night out, and this is a blessing, not a curse.

Running is easy for me

I run a lot, and in my last half marathon, two white men approached me after the race (while I was bending over stretching my calves).

“We tried so hard to keep up with you!” one said.

“I wish it was as easy for us at it was for you!” the other added.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I assumed they thought I found it easy because I was younger. On the train on the way home I suddenly thought, ‘Oh my God! They think I'm Ethiopian!’

I rule the dance floor

Most black people will have had that awkward moment at weddings and work parties where people will form a circle around them on the dance floor. There’s an expectation that you’re going to be a great dancer.

I remember one Christmas party when Candy came on and literally every black person there got in formation and did the electric slide. The next day, a colleague said to me, ‘That was so great! I can't believe you all had the time to get together and learn that for the party!’

I could have explained it all to her. But I didn't need to. My face did.

I can’t be the legitimate owner of the vehicle I’m driving

In 13 years of driving, I’ve encountered the police in a vehicle three times. Not a huge amount, but I reckon more than others.

The last time, I asked a police officer for directions, and ended up getting checked as the legitimate owner of the car I was driving. I was wearing a tracksuit and a du-rag (it was a Sunday and I wash my hair on Sundays), but I’m sure my skin colour and clothing had nothing to do with it. Right?

Probably routine...

I must be friends with all the other black people at work

I do a lot of contract work, so I’ve had lots of different positions, and if there’s another black person in the office, people will try to pair you up. They’ll be like, "Have you met Antwone?" and I’ll be like, "No… no, I haven’t…"

Last but not least: black people don’t tan

All skin gets darker in the sun. We’re just starting with a different baseline. But I’ve had a few conversations with people who don’t believe I can tan.

It’s skin, people: we’re not made out of bin-liners.

Athena Kugblenu is performing her stand-up show KMTnull.