• anabundanceofmelanin

Where Do We Go From Here?

It's been a while and a lot has happened in that time. More specifically, a lot has happened in the past few months that has taken up a lot of mental space. From a worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, to the uprising stand against the existing race pandemic, I am trying to take each day to unpack my very raw and fluctuating emotions to figure out where do we go from here?

As a Black African woman living in the UK, the issues of racism are omnipresent, almost like the air you breathe. Instead, the air that is supposed to keep you alive chokes you at every turn. The brutal, unlawful murders that occur at the hands of racial injustice will have differing effects on different people, depending on their proximity to the injustice and more often than not, people do not allow an event that is not close to home affect the way they live their lives. Add a worldwide pandemic, national lockdowns and increased social media use to that equation and suddenly, people cannot escape these events, despite how far removed they feel from the situation. The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Belly Mujinga, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd completely shifted normal responses to such events and unveiled world truths and realities that Black people already knew all too well. Since the 1400s Black people have been categorised as less than human and placed on the bottom of the totem pole in society and still around 600 years later this narrative has only transformed into a different kind of racism.

I hope most people now understand that racism is not always overt, in your face and getting murdered on the street. Especially in the UK, the microaggressions are so subliminal and covert that I cannot count how many times I have had to ask myself if someone was being racist to me. When I was younger, it was definitely more recognisable but I was definitely too scared and too young to know what to do. I would hear the racial slurs, girls would tell me my braids looked like snakes, they would ask me why my lips were so big and I would be intentionally left out of group activities.

Moving on to high school some teachers were just enemies of progress who did not want to see me do well. I would be called "disruptive" and told to shut up because I was speaking to my friends in class (who were also talking to me) or questioning something I was being taught. Despite seeing literal evidence of my grades being high, I would be predicted below average and be told I just "wasn't doing good enough". White boys would tell me that they "always wanted to know what it was like to be with a Black girl" as if I was some sort of experience and not a normal human being. I remember being on a school trip in London and I was the butt of a huge Facebook 'joke'. A boy I knew posted a picture of two girls with me in the background. As the background was quite dark, you could see my eyes and the outline of my face and the caption read "when you see it you'll shit yourself". I remember that incident ruining my whole weekend and I was crying wondering how people I knew so well could find this funny. At 15, a grown lady accused me of stealing her phone at the gym when I had been no where near her. She even threatened to phone the police AFTER I emptied my bag to show her I didn't have her phone.

More recently, I had an ex-boyfriend tell me that they "don't understand why I wear my hair in an afro as it only made my forehead look big" and on the flip side an old work colleague was so convinced that my hair wasn't real and began to touch it to satisfy her assumptions. I had an old friend say to me that White people in a small town in Scotland "only like me because I was Black" as if I am a zoo animal that only gets looked at. The saddest part was, I felt so small and scared to call out or speak about any of these things that happened to me with anyone other than my family, as I did not want my friends/other people to think that these were normal and acceptable things to do to me or get made to feel like I am always pulling out the 'race card'.

I say all of this to make you realise that just because you do not see Black and ethnic minorities being physically abused everyday, it does not take away from the detrimental effects it can have on our lives. I remember for a huge part of my teenage years I hated being Black and would spend so much time fantasising about how good it would be to swap lives with my White friends for just one day. Being Black is already difficult enough and then to add the misogynoir that Black women face, it is a constant battle to be treated as a human being. I am fortunate (to put it simply) enough to have grown up in a household that empowered me to love my Blackness despite what others consider a flaw of humanity. That is also why this blog is called 'An Abundance of Melanin' because I will forever embrace my race and being Black has formed a huge part of my identity.

A large majority of White people in particular are coming to the realisation that racism is not just an issue for Black and other minority groups to fix, but in fact they are the ones that need to insert themselves into solving the issue that their ancestors literally constructed. Being non-racist is all fine and well until people begin to recognise that they have been complicit in allowing racism to keep happening due to their inaction, even though they do not personally ascribe to racist behaviours. Anti-racism is a bold lifestyle that you must commit to, as it requires you to abolish and actively call out systemic and institutional racism that occurs in your space. If you are in this category, you know what you need to do next. If you have gone through the past few weeks still thinking that you do not have to do anything about it because it does not affect you but "you're not racist" .. newsflash, you are going to encounter Black people in at least one aspect of you life. Whether that is at work, a family member being friends with/dating someone who is Black or in your day-to-day life and we will be in your face as a reminder that you would rather see us die unjustly than be uncomfortable to challenge what is happening. You already have the tools required to figure out how you are going to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement, so use them.

Be better, do better and protect all Black lives at all costs.

D x

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