THE BLOG

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

08/09/2017 12:34 BST | Updated 08/09/2017 12:34 BST

The police officer asked me what I would say my heritage is and I paused for a moment. Black British I say, but I know they were asking to hear about the dullest extent of my blood line. The nitty gritty dating back hundreds of years, but the truth is this is me now and regardless our blackness connects us all because there is no one way to be black; but yes the truth is that they also want to know if you actually belong.

A couple of weeks ago because of my colour someone thought it would be okay to tell me that not only did I not belong in this country but that I had absolutely no rights because of my colour. Last week. Not 60 years ago. Last week. So although my ancestors were segregated, murdered and marched to give me my basic human rights there are absolutely people all over the world who believe that if you are a minority in any sense, you are not worth those rights.

We live in a world now where so many of us are radically claiming back our right to not only exist but thrive. Our parents taught us that we would have to work ten times than our white middle class friends. Our parents told us that we cannot live a life where we are not alert. Our parents told us we are no longer in chains but we could become a statistic at any moment. The world tried to teach us we have equality and safety now. I believed my parents not only because their wisdom is what has kept me going but because of every hate crime, racist rant and microaggression I have experienced in my short life.

So I work hard to be kinder, as informed, as prayerful, empathetic and compassionate as possible, and I live knowing that my privileges will be more limited than if I had been born a white cis gender boy.

I would look around at sea of white faces that I am often surrounded by in my day to day, regardless of if I'm in a metropolitan city or in a small town and try my best to dig my heels on and proudly be myself. Black British, Christian, fat and female. All things that at one time were to me the most damming things I could be.

I thought I was doomed to live out the stereotypes of angry black woman, bible basher, morbidly obese, PMSing aunt jemima on the box of ready made pancake mix. I thought myself unloveable, undesirable and destined for relative struggle.

Thank God that I am no longer in that place, but in a place where I am fiercely determined to live every bit of the creation I am and unwilling to be ashamed or shamed, but I have to be aware that though I am now love all my differences not everyone does.

There is a willingness in this world for us to fear and tear down anything that is not what we expect and can accept. A kind of spirit willing to breathe hate into any willing heart. That tells us, treat that person with less respect, make no attempt to understand, treat that person less than.

That's what we have to remove or we will wipe ourselves out. I'm writing this so that same root of hate does not settle in my own heart that was so and is so wounded with every hateful, racist remark or action I hear and see.

We cannot live in peace unless we learn to love ourselves and each other. We cannot constantly be in conflict. We cannot continuously find ways to oppress and subjugate each other.

Being pro black doesn't mean anti white. Loving your differences and being a minority does not mean you are on a mission to undo and overthrow every white man, woman and child in the planet. There is no point doing what has been done for us. An eye for an eye no longer stands because it will not create a world where anyone can exist. So it's not about punishing the sins of the father, it's about recognising that those sins were committed and ensuring that they not only don't happen again but never can.

This problem is that I have to justify my desire to celebrate blackness at all.

You know and it's true. Its not everyone that is against this. I am so grateful that I have a community of people who counter act those who don't want us to live a full and vibrant life. They stand beside me, they cry with me, they pledge with me, they march with me, they are outraged with me and I wouldn't trade them for the world, but it can't just be the people who love me. It has to be all of us.

It's gotten to the point where this is a battle not just for one black girl, but for all of us who do not meet the status quo. Its gotten to the point where none of us can stay silent. We are all responsible.

When one of us is gunned down, sexually assaulted, abused, hated on, discriminated against and excluded, we all are.

This is your fight as much as it is mine. Don't count yourself out because you want to live in a fantasy world where it's not your problem and you omit because of fear. This involves you. Yes you. You're sitting there thinking it's got nothing to do with you but it has everything to do with you. Don't use your age, background, relationships, family, religion, career, and personal issues as a reason not to care.

We don't have that luxury. You have to care. It has to matter to you. It has to matter to your father, mother, brother, sisters and cousins. It is relevant to you.

If all you can do is pray, pray out loud. If you can donate, find the appropriate organisations and donate as much as you can. If you can march, put your trainers on and be prepared for all weather. If you can talk, do it in every means possible, if it's through open dialogues with people you know or if it's through social media; actually listen so you can be informed.

Don't be that person who says they don't notice differences in people. See them, recognise them and love them.

Ignorance is not bliss.