I want to share my thoughts and I guess, ideas, some of which are based on my experiences to help spread awareness and if this resonates with at least one person then I’m proud.
This anger and frustration, the support and this movement has to go beyond Instagram and should not stop at the protests but instead must begin to be exercised within our comfort zones. Because racist opinions and uneducated views are often formed where we feel safe and once they are accepted within our homes, work and social circles then it begins to branch further with the ability to cause unpredictable consequences.
Family, I find are probably the most difficult to challenge. Out of love or fear, so many times racist comments and opinions are dismissed or ignored. So many times a blind eye is turned to the relatives or parents who may have encountered a negative experience with just ONE Black Person yet go on to put ALL Black People in the same category of either “a thief or a criminal”.
So many times the grandparents who “are from a different world” or “from a different era” to us and are “set in their ways” are left to continue to believe in their racist views simply because they are older and probably “wouldn’t understand” what we as Black People today are going through.
Well, you’re never too old to unlearn what you’ve always believed and reeducate yourself to open your mind.
The more we ignore, the more acceptance is formed.
To non black people, challenge your loved ones. Challenge them so that you or your children do not grow to live a life that is acceptable to them but uncomfortable to you, just because they are family.
So many times by even those that barely know me, have suggested that because I am mixed race, I should marry a white man so that my children will look white, so that my children will have pretty hair and cute noses and not be too dark!
This or topics similar are being discussed in too many households and social circles whereby parents, older generations, relatives or friends and their racist and distorted views pressure the future of others, of our children, creating hate and separation from Black People.
Accepting racism in homes creates an expectation for loved ones to stay away from Black People, to perhaps only go as far as accepting Black People’s music and fashion but not Black People as individuals into homes and families. Accepting racism and not challenging family members creates the expectation whether directly or indirectly to not marry, date or be friends with a Black Person.
Colleagues and friends are another. Many have not had to encounter the daily comments and experiences a Black Person has to face up to whether directly or indirectly. And whilst I genuinely appreciate my non-black friends and colleagues in the past who have tried to learn more about me, ask the right questions about where I am from or what my cultures are, others are sadly not as clued up.
“You have long hair for a black girl”
“Your hair is pretty straight for a black girl”
“Your food smells fragrant”
“Do you eat that with your hands?”
“Your surname is a mouthful, how do you say it again?”
There is so much more to add to this list from lack of diversity, lack of promotions to companies failing to employ Black People whatsoever.
Also regarding friends how many times have Black People tried to explain a scenario on where we have felt uncomfortable by a racist comment made by a colleague or another person and our non – black friends become uncomfortable by the conversation and try pass it off like “don’t be silly, I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way” or “I’m sure she was just curious but didn’t know how to word her question”. This is not ok, it’s not ok to dismiss your Black friends and their concerns regarding race simply because it makes you uncomfortable.
Whether Black or not, if any of this is witnessed, then it should be challenged, if you’re unsure but you feel like something doesn’t sit right, then it should be challenged.
If you have a friend or colleague who is Black, who you love, who you appreciate then you have every bit of responsibility to take it upon yourself to educate yourself and others to prevent the spread of racism and work towards the goal of killing racism.
To make a change, we must start from within ourselves and build the confidence to say when something is not ok to whoever it may be and take an active approach in educating non-black people.