I grew up in a colorless society. And until I left the shores of my motherland, the topic and tribulations of color, race & identifying as Black was near foreign to me. Except for the odd times it popped up in the American movies I grew up watching.
We were dealt a different hand here in Nigeria known as tribalism which is a story for another day.
I read books and watched Movies like The Help, The Secret life of Bees, 12 years a slave — and the recent one being ‘Selma‘. They all hit me hard in the face of reality and unleashed a flurry of questions.
I wondered how it was possible for people to look at another human being and not see a person. But rather a slave, a creature, a machine and other vile things black people had to endure being referred to.
However, we have moved past a lot of that, but there are moments in time, that certain aspects of history repeat themselves. And other aspects have just moved into the shadows or changed names.
Which brings me back to topic, my full realization of this issues when I first left Nigeria. The behavioral patterns of people towards me and the snide comments I get for the simple fact that I am black. I have had ridiculous and frankly stupid questions about Africa and it’s people. Which makes you wonder if people do in fact live under a blanket of mass ignorance.
RACISM OUTSIDE NIGERIA
My cousin recently told me how it was suggested that she just scrubbed harder to wash off her skin colour. Does it then mean that black is synonymous to dirt? Beside what is wrong with being dark skinned? why would you want to be lighter?
I fill out forms that remind me that I am black. I hear stories from friends who have had racist remarks being thrown at them on their daily commute. Or a salesgirl follow them around a store. All this are little things in the grand scheme of this issue, and now I am more aware and have joined in the conversation.
It has slowly become part of me without me noticing. I now unconsciously identify as Black and I sometimes feel like I wear this invisible cloak that wills me to voice out my thoughts and disseminate knowledge on race and how racial prejudice is wrong! It seems they are people out there who need to be reminded, and some just need an education.
After watching the movie Selma, I wrote a short piece which was what inspired all this. Coupled with the conversation I had with my mum below. Her reaction was surprising to me and I realize she has been spared and will never truly comprehend what it means to be black in this world. Not necessarily a bad thing. She is ‘me’ a few short years ago.
I was just reading out loud to my mum a piece I wrote after watching the movie Selma, it started off: “I grew up in a colourless society”…
— Ameera – 미라 (@GirrlMeetsWorld) July 6, 2015
Of race & colour & identifying as black exploded into a whole ideology & societal normalcy that we never talked bout or experienced in Naija
— Ameera – 미라 (@GirrlMeetsWorld) July 6, 2015
Recent news out of America have shown us how the history of racial discrimination is still being lived today but just under different headlines. Some people try to dismiss it or excuse it but Racism should never be excused.
I detest statements such as ” He/She can’t help it, It’s how they were raised or it’s what the society they grew up in taught them”. We live in the 21st century for crying out loud, the “ignorance excuse” statue of limitation has expired.
We are armed with a plethora of information thanks to the internet. Information that will teach us mutual understanding and respect and tolerance of each other. For risk of sounding cliche, we may not look the same on the outside but we are all the same on the inside.
Sometimes I wonder if people want things to stay the same hence why they do not even try!
Treating a human being as less than equal to you or as dirt is the most disgusting habit there is. Don’t get me started on modern day slavery!
It is interesting how slavery is the story of my ancestors but I am left with tales of colonialism and it’s aftermath. While black people abroad have yesterday’s tales of slavery and are left to deal with today’s trials of racism and discrimination!
SELMA: THE MOVIE
My sentiments after watching Selma are that of gladness that they fought and persisted and overcame. They didn’t allow the voices of a few to hinder them. They didn’t stoop to the level of those who had hatred and disdain for them.
Starting this movie I felt a venomous hate, albeit not directed at anyone in particular but rather at the unfairness and cruelty of the situation. But as the movie progressed, I experienced variations of positive and negative feelings. But in the end I understood compassion, hope and forgiveness.
I have learnt so many of these valuable lessons from Selma. Now I see what the ripple effect their steadfastness has brought about because I got to watch a movie filled with brilliant black actors, educated and thriving. They were carrying forth the tales of the heroes of SELMA, whom we have to thank for all of this.
May their souls rest in peace,
for they didn’t fight in vain.
I hope you have gotten a bit of clarity on identifying as black. What are your thoughts?