Race & Fear


She just walked up to me & talked to me.

A Caribbean girl, beautiful & awkward in her stride, in her manner.  As though the world was not quite a steady place. I could sense her soul, open & exposed to the elements. She needed no words for me to know she was craving. needing. love. connection. human interest.

She told me how lonely it was being a black Caribbean woman in Australia. My heart clasped & enfolded itself around hers. I understood every unspoken word she said, every bated breath that escaped from her body.

I had vowed to myself to never speak of race or culture on this blog. Even though these are the things I’m knee deep & thickly steeped into. for my doctorate & for my own every day. They interest me in a deep, under the skin kind of way.

The thing is, I have been afraid. Sucker punched in the gut kind of afraid. of offending. of being judged. of being thought of as overly sensitive.

Talking about race rarely goes well in our world. Other people are sensitive too. Emotions come spilling out. Hurtful words gush out of our mouths. Wrong perceptions are formed & dig their fangs into our conscious like leeches.

I’ve had people question my racial experiences or make excuses on other people’s behalf. I’ve had people tell me my experiences are not unique, that everybody has something that gets drawn out of them & for me it just happens to be the chocolate brown colour of my skin. & so I shouldn’t be asking for more. After all, the world carries on as it always has.

I have been shaken to the marrow every time I’ve born witness to this kind of thinking & talking. Did I say so? No. My heart, my beautiful heart trembled in its fear. Fear of confrontation & having that conversation that cuts deep.

Maybe every tactic in the world has been tried & tested. We can’t change the world anyway & so we go along with whatever is championed as the norm; as the superior culture. & the norm is definitely not the face or body you see when you look at me. Or so I’m told.

I find it funny how we all act as though we stood in a queue before we were born and God said,

“Alas! What shall I make you go as?”

“Well, now. I’ll take the blue eyes, blond hair & porcelain skin, thank you very much!”

No, people, it didn’t go down like that. God didn’t give me the choice to be born black or white. & so I find it deeply disturbing when people act as though they had something to do with evading the black skin; as though everybody else who is covered in skin that is not pure & white made a poor choice.

A lot of us wash our hands off race. with soap & all. Because let’s face it, it’s just too hard. too messy. & maybe we feel it has nothing to do with us.

I’ll break it down for you; EVERYONE. Every single, breathing, walking person is affected by race. For some it is positive & affirming. For others it is painful & frustrating. I know both as some of you might.

There is something really terrifying about living in a world where some people are rendered sub-human. The thought process behind that craziness makes me shudder.

I’ve had to come face to face with my fears. I sat down woman to woman with my own inferiority complex. the one that was stamped on me by virtue of being born, black, African & a woman. & the one the world tries to shove down my throat every single day.  I’ve had to deal with my own prejudices & perceptions about myself, about black people, white people, asian people, island people, nationalities & everyone in between. & because I can personally do these things, I can ask others to do the same thing. I never talk about things I’m not willing to do myself. That is akin to hypocrisy & in my life there is no room for that.

The fear that has held me prisoner in the past is fading & I have a mission to make life better for at least ONE person in the world.  Someone has to benefit from my existence.  I have a mission to talk about race in a way that connects people to themselves & to others.

Because when we take away the fear, race remains in its beauty. The way God intended. right. good. & perfect.

I hope I can grow the courage to lay this beauty over girls who walk up to me & speak to me of fear, loneliness & craving. Thickly wrap them up in the truth of race. & love.

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