My skin is white. I cannot change that fact of my life. But I do not believe it has to determine my relationships with other people. My father was, I am ashamed to admit, a racist. I on the other hand grew up with friends and boyfriends from a variety of skin colours. My father’s views did not impact on me; I took each individual on their own merit. For a long time in my childhood, racism was never an issue. We all played together regardless of our skin, our backgrounds, our home lives.
It wasn’t until I reached junior high school that I began to notice a change in attitudes of those around me. Perhaps it was due to the addition of kids from other schools because those I had previously known all my little still behaved as always – we were equals and friends. But the children from other schools seemed to have issues that I didn’t understand. They didn’t stick together as one but clumped themselves into groups of skin colour. I found it strange and confusing. I couldn’t understand why. I carried on in my usual way and attempted, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, to make friends with anyone and everyone. It was the individual I was interested in, nothing more. I didn’t do cliques of any kind. I was an individual and I mixed with everyone.
But from that time on, I started experiencing what I call “reverse racism”. If I didn’t agree with someone whose skin was black, I was accused of being racist. If I said something they didn’t like, I was accused of being racist. In every instance, I was asked “Is it because I am black”. My response was always an honest and firm “No! It has nothing to do with your skin colour”. The stupid thing, to me, was that I was being asked this at all. So many students in the schools I attended knew me and knew I wasn’t influenced in any way by by such things as ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender, sexuality, etc. Majority of the time those around at these times would step in and vouch for me but it affect me deeply that anyone would suggest I was in any way racist.
It didn’t get much better after school when I entered the world of work. The question “Is it because I am black” continued to be thrown at me at times when there really was no need. For example, when I was a cashier and carded someone buying alcohol … white people tended to be flattered, others tended to be offended – even when I had jut asked the white person in front of them for I.D. It still affected me even though I didn’t know these people (unlike at school). I felt the need to walk on eggshells and it made me very sad.
I understood it in a way (and I still do). I could sympathize and felt compassion for those who had been mistreated solely because of the colour of their skin. But it hurt because I had never done anything even remotely racist. My friends were friends. They were not “black” friends, “white” friends, “Asian” friends … they were all just friends. It makes me sick those who claim to be anti-racist yet refer to their friends by colour/ethnicity!
But the point of all this rambling is … I am not a racist. I have been affected by racism most of my life either through being accused or through friends who have been mistreated by racists. In my mind, I see the bigger picture and so will never jump to the conclusion that race is the motivating factor in every single situation the media inform us about. Like each person, I take each event on it’s own merit and do not lump it together with other events. Bad things happen to all kinds of people. People are shot, people are attacked, people are marginalized every single day. Not just those of “minority” but ALL people.
So please think twice before automatically assuming that someone’s race is the root cause. Please consider the source of information. Please look beyond the immediate media story which is often hyped up and find out the other side’s version. Please do not be a sheep and believe the first thing you read about any incident. And please, please, please do not add to the problem by reacting before you think and dig a little deeper because you just might find you are scaremongering – which is exactly what the media want you to do.
PS: These are purely my own opinions based on the life I have lived. I am not saying racism doesn’t exist – I know it does and I hate that! I am simply asking you to think before reacting to every story that comes your way.