Stereotypes, Prejudice, Racism-“Black” History Month
There are two sides, you are either a part of the problem, or a part of the solution, and that decision is yours.
This subject matter is a heavy one for many reasons, but nevertheless it is something that I have decided to explore.
When you think of ‘Black History’ pray tell, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Slavery. It’s as if the entire community was born in and out of slavery. Did Black Africans not exist prior to colonisation and the slave trade? Did they not thrive and create systems that worked? It has been disputed that life began in Africa, presuming this is true, then where is that history being discussed?
The crux of the matter is we will never truly know, as we were not there and can only clutch at straws to garner a truer sense of belonging, but I digress.
I often think of what good use is perpetuating the history of slavery and our ‘impoverish’ nature over and over again.
We are not allowed to forget much less move on, even if some of us wanted to. It’s always there, through films, images, the media, charities and often times we can be the transgressors. The constant rotation of these things can be psychologically destructive to any one individual. The repetition of such does not ‘enlighten’, but serves to oppress, create dissonance and incite hatred.
Where there are so many labels and ‘identities’ it is no wonder that the divide is steadily increasing instead of decreasing. The Diaspora amongst us continues.
It seems some people are only provoked to act whenever a TV programme, or art exhibition that is controversial and debased has been commissioned- which on one hand is great, however, it goes beyond that. We need to be more responsible about the representations that are seen.
Gone are the days where you just sat back and were forced to accept what was on TV, WE are the media now. Advertising has gone in a completely different hemisphere due to countless social media networks and it is no longer necessary to have the crazy budgets and a large corporation backing, we can force their hand if we want to.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp are some of most effective and powerful forms of communication we have today and as such , we can choose the information that is shared and the images that are witnessed. With that said what have you been doing with that power? Do not be part of the problem by promoting the issue UNLESS you are directly tackling it (For example, Slave exhibition, Barbican) if you are not, opt to not endorse it by publicly speaking about it.
The people that create one dimensional programmes, exploiting the stereotypes and prejudice do not need further exposure, they are not paying you to a part of their marketing campaign, so why feed the bulls*it? Do not be too eager to get a laugh or “like” that you fail to realise the extent to which you are perpetrating these discriminations. You encourage the stereotypes and support the lack of respect and equality that exists when you do. Like they say any publicity be it good, or bad is still good publicity.
I remember watching Oprah speak on how she regretted bringing the KKK on her show because they used it to recruit others to their cult. She vowed never to allow herself to be used again for such things. She realised the power she had and the choice to either give life to something or not. It is counter-productive to expand a problem by sharing it with no real recourse to provide a solution.
Another thing, for the parents out there, as you raise your child, abstain from making references to their skin colour. This is a great contributing factor to the recycled regressive mentality that many in the community now adopt. Believe it or not, statements like “As a black person you have to…” instils a sense of inferiority and that child will grow up believing that they have to play catch up to its peers. The stumbling block that exists for them will now be contained strictly in the colour of their skin. This as some of you know produces a host of insecurities, self esteem and delinquency issues that are prevalent today. You might think you are helping the child by “educating” them on the ways of the world but you may be doing more harm than good. Racism, prejudice and stereotypes is a learned perspective and very often takes place at home so be mindful as to what you choose to inform.
I would implore you to instead speak to their human nature and nurture them to be a good at what they do, not because of the adversity that they may face from the colour of their skin, but from the need to be impactful in their society. Stop rehearsing negative information to the next generation that they may never even encounter.
Of course, I am not naive to the other despotisms, they exist and will continue to prevail in many forms, not just to a particular race but to everyone depending on the immediate external factors.
I think it is crucial that we evolve. It is not until we stop holding our skin colour as a disadvantage, will we begin to progress forward. If every time something bad happens WE blame our skin tones then who is at fault here? You are conditioning yourself to believe that your skin tone is a problem. That is not to say that in some cases that people aren’t judgemental, in different ways, we all are. The choice to allow it to be a stumbling block is ultimately yours. It may take a while to be rid of this impediment on the mind but with a conscious effort, the change will be evident.
It is essential now more than ever to be accountable for ourselves, how we are perceived, what we accept and chose to represent. Stop allowing other people dictate who you/we are. If you are complaining that there are minimal positive representations of yourselves then you need to stop looking and start being. If it doesn’t exist, create it!
I’ll say this in closing this first part, the ONLY history we can be sure of, is the one we create from now till the day we die. However, if you chose to speak about slavery as part of ‘Black History Month’ get rid of the “Black” in history for starters, as Europeans and Arabs were very much a part of this particular history.