Second day of the A to Z challenge! Today’s subject is one I don’t comment on often enough even though I probably should. So…Here goes nothing.
Growing up, I was the kind of person that was friends with everybody. I just did what I liked. I listened to rock music, I wore baggy jeans, I wore studded bracelets, dark eyeliner and jokingly called myself emo. To most people, that’s a phase. To black people, it can be seen as rejecting their culture.
In some ways, I sometimes don’t see my opinions on black matters amounting to what others do. For me, I am who I am and that’s that. Racism is something that I knew existed but I was blind to it for a long time. Call it childish naivete. However, when you move out of your comfort zone, it becomes hard to ignore. I went from being surrounded by black people to be one of three black people in my class. That was intimidating somewhat. These kids had money, cars, expensive clothes and it was quite strange to see the difference. My previous school was in the inner city and this one was on the outer edge. It makes you think.
Nowadays, with the rise of Trumpism and Brexit attitudes, it’s even worse. Every stranger becomes a potential enemy. You go online and black people are being called all sorts. We’re lazy. We take drugs. We’re having too many babies. We’re killing each other. We need to be deported back to Africa regardless of whether or not we were born there. The overall implication being that crimes or certain actions are somehow worse when being committed by black people. The worst thing is that this kind of toxicity is spread everywhere and it has an effect on us. It has an effect on young black men who are written off before they can even make something of themselves. It has an effect on young black women who are told that they’re ugly because of their skin colour.
To me, those people are easily dealt with. At the end of the day, we can choose bro reject their opinions. Fuck them. Where it becomes difficult is when people are dismissive and try to say, well maybe there’s some truth to this. They cite free speech as an excuse, or try to hide behind the fact that they don’t understand. Not understanding isn’t good enough. Just take five minutes band try to understand. That’s all that we want. That’s all we ask because you will never understand. I sometimes think I’m with the ‘we all need to die out’ for racism to end theory, except, it doesn’t make sense. Racism isn’t going anywhere. It’s passed down through generations and this current generation seem to be going backwards.
Anyway, racism aside, being black is hard enough, especially when you live in a society where the focus is mostly on white people. Black issues are given fancy acronyms like BAME. We’re lumped together with other ethnic groups like we don’t each have a unique identity.
On an individual level, I might not know how to be the best black person (if such a thing exists) but last year I think I finally stood up for myself and truly thought, you know what, fuck this. I put a very good friend on ice because of their ignorance. I engaged in arguments, I posted various posts on the issue. I started tweeting about it. I realised that I don’t need to ‘act black’ to embrace being black. Being different from the norm doesn’t mean that I’m any less worthy of talking about it.
I just need to be myself because I am black.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Image credit: Pexel