If I’m being entirely honest. I feel like this week – I realised that I’m black – I know that sounds completely absurd, obviously I knew it before . But its never been so apparent and forced into my face as it was over the past few days. Yesterday, in a meeting at a long conference table, looking down at my arms and really having a deep epiphany moment on my skin and all it means.
And that’s the thing – it’s not bad, not in the slightest. Its amazing. I love being black. I love the culture and the music and the vibes and the incredible energy and the tight-knit-but-huge family that it gives me. I love the people, the bright and soulful deeply-connected rhythm that infiltrates every part of me.
But that’s like internal; how I see my community and how we have influenced and contributed to our respective societies. But I’ve never thought about it looking from the outside in. My mum is black. My dad is biracial. Our family is so mixed. And I was just raised, by my mum to not see it . Not to think about colour.
The only real memory I remember having of her talking to me about it in childhood was her saying. Kecia : ‘You’re a black girl. You’re going to have to work twice as hard.’ I must have been 7 when she said that to me. It didn’t seem that significant at the time. – but I did.
I did work twice as hard.
Not really thinking why – there was no ‘me trying to prove myself’ I was just a hard worker. Its never been ‘Us and Them’, I’ve never really seen colour. I choose friends based on their personalities I gravitated towards other hard-working geeky girls like myself and never even thought about it. I went to a primary school where I was the only black girl in the ENTIRE school for 2 years. Like all 500 of us. In secondary school it was 2 black girls (Including myself) out of the whole year, and at one point there must have been around 7 black students in around 1200 students . – And it meant nothing to me.
I can honestly honestly say I don’t ever ever . remember experiencing racism at school or at theatre school. Or in dance classes or violin lessons or karate or anywhere at all.
Truly I don’t. I can’t recall ever experiencing racism. But am I wrong ?
Do I have such a rose-tinted view of the world that even when it did come my way I just smiled and naively walked on. Maybe.
I think of the times I would be called an Oreo and would laugh so hard, or the subtle comments like ‘Lakechia you’re not sassy at all’ ‘You’re not stereotypical’, ‘you’re the whitest black girl I’ve ever met’ and I never ever questioned it. I would join in ‘well its okay your people have no rhythm … you try’ ‘you seriously need to get a tan’ we were and still are good close friends – we make fun of each others cultures, and we loved it , it was and is a part of our comradery.
We spoke about culture. Yes … but RACISM. Absolutely not.
– We would just say or think : ‘we’re British. We don’t talk about that’. – It sounds so arrogant, but I was just so unaware. My biggest knowledge on the slave trade is not from history lessons but Wikipedia and movie trailers – note I say trailers because I have never been able to bring myself to watch the actual movies. – I was scared, that it would awaken something in me that I wouldn’t be able to put asleep again. Rip away my belief in mankind and make me see the world as a place that I didn’t want to live in. I’ve been asked to speak at black history month events and ONLY because of that did I find out about black inventors, scientists, explorers, geniuses. Advanced African discoveries and libraries and that were burned down due to colonisation. I think about how much events in history like the holocaust plague my mind, keep me awake at night – and yet the name of the Belgian royal : Leopald the 2nd was never even heard although him and Hitler had a lot of things in common (although his monstrosities were aimed at the country of Congo).
I didn’t know.
And I’m starting to think that I don’t know now. I don’t know anything at all.
I do think its different in the UK as it is un the US – the extent is debatable; there are similarities, but there are many differences too.
I’m not sure what to do about it. I have close family members that are white and biracial and everything in between; 60% of my friends are Asian. And I don’t want to even remotely think about the colour of their skin when I see them – I never have, and I don’t want to start.
But I guess I’m just trying to make sense of my personal memories, be aware- but not think about the details too much … some of my friends say I should – but I feel like it would really effect my emotional state so I won’t. – Is that the right thing to do ?
In the meantime I’ll say a prayer and focus my emotions on truth. Diversity is beautiful. God create us all just the way He wanted. And each and every one of us have tremendous value. Jesus broke down the barriers of women being 2nd class and racial discrimination in every way. Some people don’t even know that a black man – Simon , helped Him carry the cross as He was about to be executed. There were interracial marriages and friendships; Prejudice in the early/OG church was just so looked down on. I guess I’ve decided to stop seeing the world through my rose tinted spectacles- that’s untrue – or through its core dark lens – that’s un-hopeful. But Through heavens eyes. Imago Dei – in the image of God.