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Black Power

Now, this isn't any article just about empowering the black race.

Now, this isn't any article just about empowering the black race. As a young black woman living in the 21st century, you can imagine I've had my fair share of experiences with racial abuse.

It's very easy for the majority of us to say, "I can't believe people can't see past colour" or that we're all the same. You're not wrong; we are all the same. But for some reasons, there are people in this world that think that people other than the white race are wrong and shouldn't be alive to take a very drastic view. In my own personal experiences, I have had racial slurs shouted at me, I've had people tell me I don't belong, I've been made to feel left out of groups and even in my educational institutions. Now I grew up in the Caribbean, so I didn't always have to be wary about my surroundings in terms of my race. I was surrounded by people that looked the same as me for 13 years of my life. But then I moved to the United Kingdom when I was 13. Now tell me if you can imagine this. A 13-year-old girl, telling her mother the day before she's meant to start at a new school that she's scared to go to school because she's worried she'll get abused for looking different. She's scared to stick out amongst all the other kids. Of course, my mum did all she could to convince me it would be fine and she did. I made some incredible friends at my school who I'm still close with till this day, seven years later. The problem with this is that I still felt very out of place. My school was majorly white. There was a total of 9 black kids out of around 1500 students. To me, that's a shocking figure. In no way am I saying that it's the school's fault. I happened to live in a predominantly white area. The thing that baffled me was the lack of any involvement for black kids. Or kids of any other race for that matter. The only times I can remember would have to be when Black History Month happened or if it was a religious holiday and we were made to be told about it. Now, let's skip ahead three years to college. This was a whole different territory. My college was dominated by kids of different races. There were Asian students, black students, students of Arab descent and so many others. As you can probably figure out, I felt more comfortable in this setting. I had more familiar faces in a sense. I didn't feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb among other students. Everyone got along and co-existed peacefully. We were all 16 and wanted to make friends as we were at a new college and knew no-one. I made some of my best friends there. We played on the same sports teams or we did the same courses and interests sparked. Now we're at the present. I'm at university. One of my biggest accomplishments. I've made it to my first choice university and I'm studying what I love. I attend a university that was recently slated for their diversity video which was lead by a straight, white male and featured him talking throughout the entire video. Obviously, the backlash from this video was about their lack of diversity in a video meaning to show how diverse the university actually is. Yes, where I attend university is a white area as people would say. I'm not saying I feel attacked by this. I simply think that in this day and age, the inclusion of other races is what's needed. A lot of different minorities want to be included. We get told we self-segregate because "all black kids hang out together" or because we fit our stereotypes. 

  1. White people stick together as well.
  2. Stereotypes are there because they came up from an origin, if I fit my stereotype, okay.

What isn't okay, is mocking it and mocking my race. My skin colour is not something to be mocked or something to be looked at as a way to make a joke for others entertainment. The pigment in my skin makes me darker than you. That's the only thing that makes me different physically. I am a human. I have emotions.

Racial abuse hurts those emotions. It causes me to think I'm an outcast of some kind because I look different. Getting told to go back to my own country is such an ignorant statement. I am here, getting an education, working for a living and trying to survive. I am not causing trouble. Some people will look at me and immediately form an opinion based on my skin colour. That is wrong. You cannot look at me and pass judgment without knowing anything about me. You don't know what you don't know. What does that mean? It means educate yourself on other people, on their origins and on them as a person, not by their physical appearance. If I went up to a white person and told them they're being "such a white girl" or questioned their white privilege (a wholeee other story), I would be slated for it. I would be called a racist. Racism isn't something you're born with. You learn it. You learn to hate things. No one is born hating anything, you're taught to hate.

Statistics show that living in the UK means that as a black woman, I am safer than if I was to be living in America as a black woman. A scene from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air I reference quite a lot, explains in a sentence what it feels like living in a society like that. The dialogue goes "I get told to put my hands up, I do it and next thing I know I got seven warning shots in my back." That TV show was aired in the 90s. It's 2019 and that statement has more relevance now than ever. Gun crime in America is horrendous but someone members of the black community are being gunned down when doing exactly what they've been instructed to do and/or being treated so badly in police custody and being neglected that some sadly lose their lives. Is it really any wonder that the black community is outraged? Can you blame us for being angry? 

This statement might shock some but if you are a white person of any age group, you do not reserve the right to lecture me on racism or any kind of reaction I have to a racial attack on me or anyone else. The reason for this is you have never had to experience what I have had to in my 20 years of life and you will never experience anything like it in your life. And that is simply because your skin is white and mine is not. 

You sympathise and you offer help, but you cannot ever imagine the fear for your life that I experience when I walk down the street and get an odd look from a grown man. Or when I get racial slurs shouted at me for having melanin in my skin. You will never be abused for the colour of your skin and you will never have to work out how to be careful going about your day because of your skin colour. I have to avoid certain places because I am: 

  1. A woman and—
  2. A black woman. 

So please, the next time someone is telling you about an experience they've had, then please listen to them. Offer them counsel, but please, please do not attempt to understand the struggle if you have never had to be discriminated or abused because of your skin colour. Our ancestors suffered enough.

Sincerely,

An angry, young black woman.

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