The first time I became aware of a potentially racist action towards me – at least that’s the way I perceived it and still recall it – it was my first day at full time school. I was nearly 5 years and with a summer birthday it meant I started in the summer term – the older children would have started at the beginning of the school year, the previous September. I went to the toilets; someone else let off gas (to put it politely) and I heard all the other children blame it on me. I sat in that cubicle and cried.
At secondary school I faced it again – the older children (boys & girls) called me Kissi – Alex Haley’s Roots was on TV and I wore my hair in plaits. This time I faced up to them –
My name is not Kissi
They stopped the name calling and, even as they hung around the school gates smoking, they greeted me by name, Vanessa.
The events of the last several weeks – Sousse, Charleston et al – have led me to think, maybe there are more people who are racist out there than we think? Why do they feel that way? Maybe I work with someone who would not ever speak with a black person given a choice? Maybe, seeing me, in my role as a woman, a black woman, really winds them up? Should I trust anyone?
I personally feel that ignorance lies behind any type of discrimination – I’m sure many people feel the same. When I dwell on questions like those above, I don’t feel right. 1. I’m not going to live my life in fear – that doesn’t mean I’m going out looking for trouble. And 2. I want to love my fellow beings – we are all part of the human race and that’s enough for me.
I really don’t know how people feel the way they do. I’ve heard and read things like: “the only good white man is a dead one.” And I’ve no doubt there are equally hurtful phrases about negroes.
“Show me your tail” is what my mother heard when she came here in the 1960’s – and that was from work colleagues genuinely asking her and her friends. How ridiculous! How awful! How stupid and ignorant!!
Where’s the love? It’s largely gone. It’s the 21st century, we have incredible communication technology. So is there really an excuse for ignorance?
There is no doubt in my mind that these are the last days spoken of long ago by prophets of old, even Jesus (see Matthew 24 verse 12):
the love of many shall wax cold
And so we do live in a time where guns and ammunition exist, where they can be obtained, and where innocent people can be killed while worshipping or while lying on a beach, simply because of the colour of their skin.
I do have a hope – it will come to an end one day. Not through military strikes, but through a Man who will return to Earth. Meanwhile, I will continue to treat every as my fellow brothers and sisters and not be bothered if they can’t see past my beautiful brown skin and black curly hair 😉