Identity

Yyyay! I have beaten my self-imposed deadline!

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I have a confession to make, for the longest time, forever if that is even possible, I have held onto a fearful notion when it comes to talking about identity, race, racism,  prejudice and everything else that falls into that category. This due to the fact that, like most or few I thought and perceived this as borderline offensive, negative you know the list! I have even gone as far as playing out entire scenes( movie like and action packed) in my mind of how a casual racist scene would play out, me as the lead of course how I would react, how I would feel etc and the icing on the cake, how I would blog about it!

 

Anyway, I have come to terms with my reality as it is now( I can’t predict the future), I have never been faced with racism. This is actually questionable given that even if it would have happened, I would probably not have even been able to call it out much less recognize it.( you know, don’t sweat the small stuff)

All that said and done, this conversation has partially been sparked by the fact that for the first time in a very long time I have met someone who is honestly and genuinely, as far as I can see interested in this black African girl. I added the African part because it sounds like spice you put into food, exotic! ( Warning: don´t loose your train of thought)  On the other hand, by a random list I saw online for must watch TED talks encompassing everything you can imagine with regard to current social issues but with the baseline Africa and women in particular.  With that I have gathered a lot of thoughts, questions,  ideas( ideas worth sharing ) … you saw what I just did?

Anywho here we go:

On where I come from ( Kenya which is in Africa plus 53 other countries)

  • Growing up, most of us don’t get a chance to make our own choices or pursue our own personal choices. Most things are cast in stone, more or less the reality that is which leaves room for very little in terms of options more so choices.
  • The other aspect to this is  a lot of people have internalized a sense of inferiority and in some situations, the only way to assimilate, relate or socially adapt is to assume a position of servitude
  • Another thing that often came up was labels/stereotypes/statistics/definitions (maybe) in some cases I would add. These tiny little boxes that people walk around carrying and then try to fit everyone else in them. The best example actually given was the question where do you come from, which is code for why are you really here? ( This is just one way of interpreting it) As if actually knowing this would offer up a summary of who I am as a person.
  • How we react could also be another aspect. When someone simply says ´we don’t see you as black´. This is code for either being unable or unwilling to process my identity.
  • The things we say either consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously ( All this has a genesis you know).  My best example was from Ola Orekunrin: ´So the next time you call a woman nagging remember your doing each of these 3 things:

1. Your trivializing her request.
2. You´re putting her in her place, where obviously she is worth a lot less than you or I would like her to be.

3. You’re  taking responsibility away from yourself in the sense, you actually not fulfilling her request.

  • Then there is also these opportunities that are marketed for all, and the need for marketers to prove we live in a free and fair world but when the conversation gets specific, it depicts a completely different picture of who’s superior and who’s inferior in most if not some cases.

As you can obviously see, I am stepping out on borrowed thoughts from others. I  cannot and will not pretend to be an expert in these matters much less experienced. ( My friends have accused me of being a diva which I will not accept or deny  and this is a digression) but as from my greatest lesson last semester, a lot of things regardless are very subjective. Its depends in the midst of a lot of things on how we choose to view it. What I have shared above is what I can personally identify with and let us call this my little show of courage. I have been unraveled much less to say.

Technically it’s not a requirement to intrinsically be interested in someone’s identity ..but these are things we struggle with daily and the one question that has been raised is: Why is it so hard to openly and in a civil way, talk about it? So close to home yet so far!

I do promise to run from any negativity that will come by raising this conversation. I believe like most people that this should be an enriching conversation, not to condemn, not to judge, definitely not to revenge/avenge. I will not be tainted by bad experiences. Wounds heal you know! The greatest enemies as was put are ignorance and fear.

So in the words of Audre Lorde: Your silence will not protect you (note to self).

In the words of someone, I look up too, learn to meet mistrust with great openness!

Cheers! To a world where women, people of all color are a lot more than the names they are called!

 

Reference:

The TED talk list I am on about:

  1. Memory Banda
  2. Taiye Selasi
  3. Maame Yaa Baofo
  4. Zodidi Jewel Gaseb
  5. Yawa Hansen-Quao
  6. Mallence Bart Williams
  7. Ola Orekunrin
  8. Afua Hirsch
  9. Ekua Armah
  10. Salima Visram

Youtube just like Google is your friend!

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