If you are looking for an article riddled with statistics, pie charts and graphs from studies completed by white institutions showing a bleak outlook for the black race, this will not be that. This is just one man’s experience and I have purposely kept it as personal and real as possible.
I am a 26 year old black man living in the United Kingdom in 2016. I’ve never been in trouble with the law, I’ve never been a member of any gang or crew, unless you count my unsuccessful stint in a music collective called the “Crazy 8’s” (We never did make it to the Top of the Pops like we hoped we would…) I’ve also never been in a proper fight in my life. I don’t particularly look threatening and generally I just live my life. Despite a glowing CV and the reassurance of my friends vouching for me, I’ve still sadly had one too many run-ins with ignorance, racism and everything in-between. Do these experiences make me angry, frustrated and ready to fight? One hundred percent! More importantly, these experiences reaffirm my fondness, appreciation, and my pride for my black skin and all the shit that comes with it! If you bear with me I’ll try and explain why.
Do you guys remember how back in primary or middle school a guy would be mean to a girl all the time, only to react sheepishly when someone dare suggest that their behaviour was exhibited to mask their true feelings of affection?
“No I don’t fancy her shes yucky!” when deep down this really was the case? Well this is the stance I take with ignorant and racist people. Your actions are masking your true feelings.
In education, religion, working life, the media, movies, adverts on TV we are constantly reminded of our inferiority to white people. It can be as subtle as the housemaid in the cartoon Tom and Jerry being black whilst the affluent owners of the house are white, or an advert featuring kids saying what they want to be when they are older, with no surprises as to what the black kid wanted to be (an athlete). During HIV awareness week I only ever saw black faces on the “I’m testing for HIV” posters that were prevalent all around the underground.
Bearing all this in mind (plus much much more) it puzzles me as to why, despite this apparent superiority, we constantly have white people concerning themselves with us and what we do? The constant slurs and verbal jabs, the unnecessary touching of and fascination with our hair, the inappropriate and sometimes blatantly racist jokes, the incessant appropriating of everything from clothes, music and even language (yes there are oyinbo girls out there that like saying things like Ashawo boys or fi mi le). From this to even more overt and blatant acts of racism such as police brutality, racial profiling and institutionalised racism. All of these things make me see the truth…..it’s there to mask a subconscious jealousy of a people that they swear they are better than.
When you have a girl that other guys want, what do fuck boys generally do?
“Nah babes he’s dead I heard he does X, Y,Z”
Every opportunity fuck boys get they will take to undermine the girl’s current man. Why? Because they’re jealous that you have what they want. You see the picture I’m painting? I’ve been to raves and seen the daggers that certain white boys will give you if a white girl shows you any attention.
There’s a reason the prettiest girls in school are often bullied and put down, rumours made up about them and circulated to the point that most believe it to be true. Jealousy. The day she realises her true potential it will be a sad day for the other girls.
There’s a reason we’re taught to hate black features, unless it’s on white skin. They’re jealous of the fact that big lips, curvaceous figures and the like generally come naturally to black women. We praise Kim Kardashian for the same outlandish backside that had Sarah Baartman treated as a “circus freak” back in the 19th century.
So when a random white boy walks past me and mutters “Will I Am” under his breath (insinuating all black people look the same because I look nothing like him and muttering because he’s a coward) you’re damn right that I’m gonna scream and shout and curse him out in the first instance, but then almost in one fell swoop my rage turns to pity. The fact that he felt so overwhelmed to concern himself with me, in an ignorant fashion no less was laughable. If he hadn’t have said that to me we would have been two strangers walking past each other in the street.
I had a close white friend of mine (one of only two) tell me that he couldn’t come out for my birthday celebrations because the previous year he had been the only white person in the rave and felt a bit awkward. He didn’t outright say those exact words, but he made it clear enough for any smart person to be able to read between the lines. In his defence i do remember one particular black boy disrespecting him by purposely trying to move to the girl that was interested in him. And the manner in which he did it In I very much doubt would have been done to another black boy.
In essence, he didn’t want to be in the minority. In my mind I laughed and thought “Welcome to the life of a black man in 2016 mate.” Anywhere we go we are the minority; but we suck it up and fight for better days. Yet we have a white man who can’t deal with that for a single night. Why would I not be proud to be black when we deal with on a daily what others can’t even stomach for one night? It speaks to the strengths and courage of my people and for that I couldn’t be any more proud.
Written by: Greg Okanlawon