I don’t usually like to broach the subject of race but a couple of things I have read in the media have really got me annoyed. It is on the subject of race, but it’s the ignorance behind people’s comments that have made me how progressive we are and how certain people still don’t understand their privilege.
It started with the Beyonce at the Superbowl with the ladies dressed at black panthers. I am in no way a Bey fan, neither am I a hater, she does what she does and makes a lot of money from it so no judgement. There was an article in the newspaper the next day that there people (I am guessing white people) were up in uproar as she was inciting race relations and hatred for the police. That the Black Panther’s signified violence and all that jazz that goes with anything that relates to a black person voicing their opinion.
Then someone else writes in that slavery was abolished 200 years ago, so basically what is our problem, we cannot keep harping on about things when those people were dead and buried long ago.
To top it off, there was an article about the growth opportunities in Africa (like where have you been). Someone pointed out that Seychelles wasn’t shown on the map of Africa. All I have to say on this last point is somebody ask the man to give Christopher Columbus a call to steer him in the right direction.
Now back to the former points, and before I write the next sentence. I have no disregard for what gay people have to go through I am just using this point as analogy to get to my grievance. If at the Superbowl, we had Elton John or Sam Smith singing to people marching in carrying the rainbow flag, would this have been an issue. Would they have been told, to get over their struggles and that it is now legal to be gay in US and the rest of the Western World so get over it. Probably not. Would they have been told that they were inciting violence, I don’t think so.
Yes, slavery was abolished 200 years, and regardless of the fact that, for 400 hundred years (not just a generation but a number of lifetimes), black people were seen as mere cattle. Let’s be real, it is not that long ago that we did not have the same legal rights to be seen as equals to our white counterparts. I can also speak of Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela, that was mere 30 to 40 years ago.
Today, some of us are still feeling the effects of the past that we should so readily forget. If you are still unconvinced, you may want to talk to Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner and the other unarmed persons killed because they “looked” like they would be a threat to an armed police officer’s life.
In Ghana, they have an armed force, you may say there are no bullets in their guns, I don’t really want to test that theory, but jokes aside, they could go around trigger happy “in fear for their lives” so what is it about being black in the western world that makes people fearful? 200 hundred years after slavery was abolished, why are there the same stereotypes and connotations, why is it, that if a black man walks down the street wearing a casual hoodie and jeans he is seen as a thug, sorry we can’t all go around wearing a suit and tie to the local supermarket.
Now I am not saying that all black men in incarceration are victims of being the wrong colour, I am just saying that there is good and bad in everyone and when you do not live in a certain body you may not appreciate what they are going through. There are lazy black folk who don’t want to work, there are also lazy white folk who feel they don’t need to work, it is not a colour thing, it is a people thing.
However, we cannot ignore the fact is that being white and middle class gets are seen more positively than a young black man, and until you walk a day in someone else’s shoes, you will not fully understand their pain or what they go through.
You will not understand that feeling, knowing you look and sound the part, you don’t get that job. You will not understand when someone feels that because you were born in Africa/Caribbean your first experience of civilisation is when you stepped foot on British shores.
I remember telling a former colleague that I would WhatsApp them when I was in Ghana, and they were so shocked that we used that platform, hey we have smartphones too.
So to get back to the Bey and her performance, people have used music to speak on their views, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, the list goes on, as long as there are problems in the world, it is a good outlet to speak out and that performance certainly achieved what it set out to do, which was to get people talking. Rather than negate what makes you feel uncomfortable about, try to understand it. It is no more comfort to any of those knowing their ancestors were traded as slaves but we’ve dealt with it.
So that’s my view and just like when I learnt of World War I and II, although I wasn’t there, it is history and one thing about that is that it can never be erased. Yes it has happened but whether we have come out good or bad in this world, it our history that has moulded us into the people we are, so it is a bit callous to say get over it. I for one have found great strength knowing I am a descendant of Yaa Asantwaa (go read about her if you don’t know).
So yes I am over the whole slave trading thing thank you, but really the whole Seychelles being in Africa one.
I think I will have to take a bit of time to get over that one.
P.s. I love you all, whatever colour, creed, religion or whatever (if you think this was bashing anyone, sorry not on my watch).