I think if we all live with confidence and we talk about it we might be able to figure out that we can actually overcome it, we can overcome the colour-blindness we have not only in the relationship of white-to-black but also black-to-black, mixed-race-to-black and everything in between.
I’ve noticed that people try to avoid calling me the “black girl” so ultimately I become the coloured girl or any other adjective to describe me in a distinctive way when I’m among white mates without having to mention the word “black”. (By the way I don’t like “coloured”, what is that?!)
The other day I was talking to a blockmate of mine about how involved I am with Americanah (if you haven’t noticed!) and I deeply feel the issue of colour-blindness described in one of the chapters. I was saying that it seems to me that people avoid the use of this term because they sense in it a sort of offense towards the person they are using to describe; I think this is ridiculous. Why should I be offended if I am referred to as “black”? I think there is nothing to be disgusted by if one is referred by using its most distinctive characteristic, whereby there is no other prompt element one can be defined by. Now you will understand that under the appropriate circumstances, so let’s say one’s name is not known or other elements of identification that I’m not going to list right now are not available, there is no offence to be found in the word “black”. However, it’s also true that the history of humanity and the social and political connotation that the “black” figure went through make the use of the term ambiguous and echoing; somehow it is commonly perceived (wrongly!) that being black requires an apologetic attitude from the person who decide to call into light the blackness. It shouldn’t be like that! I mean, I understand the apologetic attitude but I don’t want to entertain it, because it is not right, it take away one’s full dignity to be a person who can decide for itself and can determine what to be offended by.
Why should I be offended to be defined as “black”? Or rather, why “black” is referred to as an offence, shaping it implicitly as a negative element and perhaps something to be sorry for? Why one has to think that because ego is “black”, so ego is not happy or has issues with its blackness?
As already said, I understand where the apologetic attitude is coming from (I really do), it can be re-conducted to historical facts and social issues as well, because we all know that racism is still a massive problem, but I sometimes find myself to think that we are evolving, perhaps we are too intelligent now, in this epoch, to let the past intimidate us, to let somehow the past make us create a pre-concept. I know, because I’ve experienced it, that the colour of my skin sometimes is the tool by which my person is measured and I try really hard to discredit the stereotype when this occur, to give to whoever measures in this way the chance to acknowledge the fact that one can be brilliant, good, excel, rich but also poor materially and intellectually regardless to the colour of its skin.
I come from a middle class family and I’ve been offered all the opportunities that a young person of my age could ask for. I decide to embrace every chance I have to improve, to excel because I want to be a good person, I have dreams and goals I’m working to realize because I want to be a woman of substance. I don’t live my life because I want to redeem a race, although sometimes I feel compelled to do so. I don’t have issues to be identified as black, under the appropriate circumstance, because I know my worth, I know that the colour of my skin does nothing to me and although sometimes I would find difficulties, I know that my person will prove the stereotype wrong.