Almost 10 years ago, my good friend came to visit me in Ghana. I had just purchased my house and although she had spent the first couple of days in a hotel, she was the first to actually stay in my new home. I will always appreciate that even when my furniture consisted of a bed and a couple of garden chairs, she said she came to visit me and not nothing else and stayed with me in my new house for the rest of her duration.
So before I start this piece I want to shamelessly plug her new book, “Black 365” by Christiana O’Connor, it is available on Amazon. This book looks at black history, one person a day for 365 days, I am probably not articulating myself well in this present time so all I can say is go to Amazon by the book, it’s well worth the read, not just for you but your generations to follow.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. My friend Christiana and I went to Elmina Castle when she came to visit me. I remember during the tour it was mainly people of African origin except for this one French guy. I remember at the end of the tour, the guide said something like let us not forget what we went through. After he said that, the French guy, well it appeared that he had a whole white burden on his shoulders as he just looked at us and said “sorry for my ancestors”. I actually felt bad for him, simply because in France, he probably never had think about this because he was the majority and racial issues were probably not his problem, but now here he was the only white face in a sea of blacks and all he could say was sorry.
I thought of this guy recently due to a couple of issues that have come up in the last couple of weeks. The first issue was an actor whose family member had gone through a traumatic experience. The victim was white, but the perpetrator was a black man. When the actor heard what the victim had gone through he was so mad that he would walk up and down the street looking for a “black bastard” to basically take his frustration out on. Now, I can understand that this guy was angry but he basically said that because of one black man, a whole race of men were going to be held responsible for this crime (in my opinion).
Now the other day, a politician made a point about comic relief. For those of you that don’t know, comic relief started over 30 years ago, it is a charitable organisation that raises money for poverty issues domestically and in Africa. Now from what I can understand from this politician, he had an issue with a particular white “saviour” who had gone to Africa on behalf of comic relief and had issue with Africa being portrayed as this poverty stricken county who cannot function without foreign aide.
In the first instance the situation happened decades ago, in the latter the author was talking in present day terms. In both situations I am not going to give my opinion on who I thought was offensive or why but in both situations the race card was used in a seemingly negative connotation. What I found though is that in the first scenario, as this happened decades ago, the “privileged” simply said “get over it”, it happened decades ago, this is not a race issue. The same people said that the second issue was a race issue and the author was being racist against them.
My issue is that you need to see the situation in it’s entirety and use the same issue, both were offensive (if you are truly looking at this in a balanced point of view) so in both cases either you get over it because they said what they said or you are offended because the race was used. People need to use the same energy but it appears that when it comes to the “under privileged”, they need to get over it but when it comes to the privileged, there is an outrage.
I could go into a big debate into these two issues, but it can go on for ages and people think what they think, there is no point me trying to sway there opinion. In a perfect world, people would look at this type of issue more balanced, but when you are not used to dealing with this type of thing on an every day basis it is difficult to see why other people are offended when someone uses the race card until it happens to them.
I like to think back to the French guy in Elmina, he probably didn’t get it until he was the minority in a situation where he was forced to think about race (even if it was 400 years ago). For me I think that unless the “privileged” become the “minority” even if it is just for a day, there will always be a problem. My hope is that one day we all get to see things from the other person’s point of view just like the French guy, then we will be more mindful and think twice before we speak. This is not a PC issue, this is just a being kind to our fellow humans regardless of colour issue.