Sunday, 31 August 2014

Please Call Me What I Am...

Don’t be alarmed but it offends me that you think I am offended when you call me what I am…BLACK

I have contemplated writing about this subject for quite some time now but have put it off because I didn't think it was necessary living in the twenty first century. Then something happened which gave me a little nudge.

One day as I was having an interesting discussion with a friend, it occurred to me that they felt they could not describe a black person as that - black! The discussion we were having was such that they needed to be explicit in order to drive a point home, but when it came down to it they couldn't describe the person in the way they needed to so as to keep the conversation flowing. For the sake of being politically correct they tip toed and meandered, throwing words like coloured, brown, from Africa and so on. Although I understood, I could not help but feel a volcano brewing inside me, so in the end I had to say it for them - BLACK. Immediately, I could see the relief sweeping across their face. 'Blackk' was better coming from my mouth rather than theirs, so they thought.

Well, excuse me!

Don't get me wrong; I am not naive, neither am I ignorant of the history behind the prejudices, the need to be politically correct, slavery issues, the whole enchilada! I also realise that it works both ways as some of my black brothers and sisters play the race card every chance they get which scares the hell out of those not black. Some simply do not want to be identified as such and are offended when they are called black. They may not say it out loud but it shows on their faces the moment the word 'black' is uttered. But why is that, I find myself asking.

Let's look at this for a minute, shall we? Doesn't it mean that the person who thinks that it offends me for them to call me black is showing me just how prejudiced they are? Are they in fact not telling me that there is something wrong with my being black? And if you're the black person taking offence just because someone has called you black, doesn't that imply that you haven't fully embraced your blackness? What is it exactly that you think is wrong with you being black?

It saddens me that every day I have to remind my daughter that she is just as beautiful and precious as her white Caucasian best friend. Her friend has never said or done anything to make her feel that she isn't lovely, but she as a child she can't help notice that she is different. As a mother it is not only important for me to tell her that there is nothing wrong with being the way she is, but to live what I say. How can she believe and embrace what I say if it is apparent, through my actions or otherwise, that I don't in fact believe my own words?

I have to admit that the issue of blackness can be a very touchy subject especially for sisters out there. I will admit, I have the occasional braids, extensions but like most sisters out there, it is because it saves time in the morning when we have to rush to work, is easier to manage and because I simply get bored very easily wearing the same hairstyle every day. But when my hair is out I also should be able to wear it with pride because it is beautiful the way it is. As a mother that is what I want my daughter to understand.

I have read Maya Angelou's 'I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing' and I have to say that I cringed when I read some parts where she talks about some of the derogatory terms that were used to describe black people. But I have to say that it has been a breath of fresh air to note that more and more people, especially women, have embraced the natural black look to the extend of appearing on the covers of some glossy magazines.

I believe that it takes a certain degree of understanding, intelligence and maturity if you like to reach a stage where you realise that there is nothing at all wrong with being different. In fact different, in my book, is good. Imagine a world where everything looks the same, tastes the same and behaves the same. How boring. I would like to think that it is our differences that make life exciting and fascinating. If someone doesn't accept you for who you are then isn't it fair to say that they are not worth your time anyway? I also believe that it is only when we embrace what and who we really are first that others can do the same. How can we expect someone else to love and appreciate the real you when you don't like yourself? It is an impossible task, I think.

That is why I say that it offends me when you think that I am offended to be called what I am....A BLACK LADY!

Stay cool out there!