War

But you say there is equality.

When I was little, I wanted to be white.
That’s the colour the sweet, popular girl at school was. That’s the colour the beautiful, breath-taking supermodels on the billboards. And that was the colour all the characters in my favourite tv series were. Which role models looked like me? Beyoncé is now the third woman (behind Naomi Campbell & Halle Berry) to grace the cover of Vogue in the magazine’s 123 years of publication, and people are raving as if this is iconic. That’s not iconic. That’s ridiculous. The third in 123 years. But you say there is equality.
My mother moved from France to England because she didn’t believe she, a young black woman, could get a respectable teaching job where we were. My mum forced me to read English story books, meant for an age much younger than I was yet it was still extremely difficult. She made me read every single day and I hated every minute of it. I see know that she did this so I could speak English perfectly by the time it mattered, by the time people started to assume I was illiterate, uneducated and ignorant from the colour of my skin. And even though my mum spent hours teaching me the English I am able to speak so fluently now, due to her patience and encouragement, you can still tell English is her second language. She asks me how to say certain British expressions to fit in, She asks me to proofread emails for her, out of embarrassment that she feels her English isn’t sufficient enough to be taken seriously, it sickens me that while their mastery of the English language is more than proficient, it doesn’t matter, because the rest of the world doesn’t care. But you say there is equality.

I grew up, watching the world’s understanding of my cultural heritage being reduced to the “black best friend”, being portrayed as domestic help, sassy and thugs. I grew up being asked “but, where are you really from?” as a reply to when I told them I was born in France. I grew up, being told I had to be the servant when I played families with my white friends, when I held in me the fact that when slavery was finally abolished, slaves received no apology and the slave-owners often received a minimum of £50 per slave in compensation. The slave-owners received paid compensation. But you say there is equality.
I live in a country that when a well-known television presenter says the racist n-slur, on air, he keeps his job .I live in the 21st century, where the only understanding I can get about the story behind my heritage comes from my own parents, where the only times I can see people who look like me on screen and aren’t portrayed in a degrading, racially comic, stereotypical way is on YouTube. The caricatures on television teaches us that we are brash, aggressive deficient at English and poor. But you say there is equality.
Who would want to black? In the few instances coloured people made an appearance on my television, they were always the criminals, the delinquents, the poor or had a funny accent everyone could laugh at. Obviously no way someone who wasn’t white could be educated, wealthy or even just a generally good person.

But still, you love your jazz music, your fried chicken. Please, enjoy your holidays to the Caribbean, your corn rows and Morgan Freeman.

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27 thoughts on “But you say there is equality.

  1. shiivani says:

    I relate to this so much. I’m Indian, and it sickens me to see that people everywhere still mistake the bulk of Indians to be uneducated, backward and the sort to pee on the sidewalk. I hate being called the less pretty one for not being fair-skinned. I hate that my heritage and culture is forgotten in talks about the renaissance and everything. I hate not being good enough as people “fortunate enough” to have fair skin.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Exactly. I’m done with other seeing the 21st Century as a time when everyone is seen as equals. That is not the case. Thank so much for taking the time to read and comment, I really appreciate it 🙂

      Like

  2. Pingback: But you say there is equality. | xkiliya

  3. this post was so beautifully written, so relatable. I’m not black, but I’m a middle eastern And French mix and I always feel this way. Growing up I also wanted to be white. thank you for writing this post, I loved every word.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much. I know what you mean, it’s not fair that life should be different for people because of something they can’t control or choose. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, I really appreciate it 🙂

      Like

  4. It pains me to read posts like these. It is beautifully written, which is such an ironic thing for a topic so ugly. I am white by skin, but to me, that’s all it is. Skin. Mine gets darker in the summer and lighter in the winter; but it doesn’t change who I am underneath it. In my mind, this is the same for everyone on Earth. We are all just people, of different shades and colors, like the flowers you see in the field. I hope so much that things get better for you, and that the people around you come to their senses and see you for the beauty that is your person, not the stereotype they attach to your skin. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I respect you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It was hard to write. Thank you although I feel like I shouldn’t receive praise for writing about it when I really should be DOING something about it… I’m happy there are people like you in the world, if only there were more. I most definitely respect you. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, I really appreciate it 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Writing is doing something. Inequality results largely from the minds of people who think and act as if they were superior. Writing about how it feels to you brings the problem to the minds of anyone who is open to thinking about it. With enough awareness, this might in time become less of a problem. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. This is amazing, and so, so truthful. However, it truly sickens me to read your words as it IS so painfully true. I’m white (although I hate to use that label) so I can’t relate as such to what you’re saying but I’m firmly in the camp that it shouldn’t matter what you look like. After all, skin is skin right? We don’t discriminate on eye colour so why should we for skin? I long for a day where equality is widespread and when people start to look at the person behind the body and not the body itself. Thank you for opening my eyes to what you’ve had to go through, I’m praying for the day when colour will no longer matter. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  7. As a guy born in 1956 when the US was still lynching negroes I am relieved and delighted with the successes of the civil rights movement. We have a looooog way to go but at least we’re morning in the right direction!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hey!
    I’ve thought about what to write but words do not come. I’m from Brazil and last week I was doing some research about inequality (I’m a teacher). Then I read your text. I’m speechless.
    Well, besides congratulating you on this sincere (and wonderful) piece of writing, may I ask you a favor? May I use this text in class, as input for my students to reflect upon?
    Thanks for these words.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello! Wow, Brazil is such a cool place and I’m so glad I was able to reach out to a place so far away. Thank you so much, that really means a lot. Of course, although I think I should let you know I am only 14 and I think that has a huge influence on what I have written. But sure, I appreciate you asking beforehand 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dear,
        I feel glad to know Brazil means a lot to you! 😉
        I would not feel comfortable using your text without asking. Thanks a lot for saying YES to me!
        Let me tell you something, it might help you: what you wrote touched me (and I can see other people sharing the same idea. 🙂 ). Believe me: it has to do with who you are and the outstanding sensibility you’ve got. It came from your heart. Being 14 just makes you really one of a kind. By the way, I’m 29. 😉
        Keep on doing this extraordinary job!
        Best regards!

        Like

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