Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible. ~ Maya Angelou
Racism is learned behaviour no one is born a racist and for whatever reason, some people cling to it like they do religion, maybe it makes them feel safe. Maybe it makes them feel superior in some way. I’ve had people say to me, “Oh I’m not racist” yet they clutch their purse just a bit closer whenever a person of colour gets on the same elevator as them or they move a few rows down when a Muslim gets on the same bus. WE all have our own unconscious biases some more extreme than others but they’re undeniably there.
It took me a long while before I could write anything without expressing my anger and frustration about that brute-force of racism that’s happening in America right, for obvious reasons it hits close to home, there’s just something about seeing someone who looks like you being murdered on the street for being in the wrong place and being the wrong colour at the wrong time. It plays in my mind that a little over fifty years ago my relationship woul’ve been illegal in America. Things like that sits on the brain, time doesn’t erase or surpress those facts. But I don’t allow those facts to fester into wounds, instead I keep them as reminder of what I don’t want to become.
Many people have asked me, “why are you so upset about what’s happening in America? You’re not American, you don’t live in America!” Well, I have lived in America, which is where I experienced my first in your face racism, a story I’ll perhaps share another time. This post is not about writing angry. What’s happening in America right now concerns me because I have friends and family living in America, many of whom look like me. Adding to that, this is not quoted, unquote an “American” issue, being from the Caribbean, racism is filtered, though not as perceivable and brutal as in America it’s very much present hiding behind the guise of classism. So I’m not hypocritical or nieve in thinking that racism is peculiar to America racism is everywhere, anyone who thinks differently is delusional. However, what is peculiar to America is that it’s more openly tolerated! This is the history of America but it doesn’t have to be it’s future.
I can tolerate being in lockdown for as long as it takes to get through this pandemic, I can tolerate ones’ need to exercise their freedom of expression or rights as a citizen of their country, however, what I cannot tolerate is systemic racism. In a world that always seems to be in chaos, now more than ever it’s important to show empathy, show compassion and lend your voice again racism. There need to be healing and restoration in the world, empathy and compassion are not optional, right now they’re necessary. They’re necessary because people who look like me need to feel safe around those who don’t. They’re necessary so people who look like me can know that they have the same liberties as their white counterparts. They’re necessary because people who look like me are more than the colour of their skin.
Your turn…If this post resonates with you, drop your comments below
©Etta D. Richards