I wasn’t going to write about this, however I feel like I’ve been backed into a corner and the more I think about it, the more angrier I become and if I don’t get it down “on paper”, then I’ll probably have a seizure.
Last week, I posted a picture of myself with my new glasses, and alluded to the racial microaggressions I’d suffered in my previous employment, to the point where comments were made and I was forced to alter the way I looked, in order to fit in. When the post was shared, one of my white friends responded with:
“are you sure that’s what they meant?”
Why do white people do that?
I’m not going to apologise if that comment upsets you, because I suffered for EIGHT MONTHS.
Every single time I went to one of my University tutors with my concerns, who were both white, their response every single time would be:
“are you sure that’s how you heard it?”
“I’m sure that’s not what they meant”
“I think you heard what you were feeling, not what was actually said”
My concerns were about comments made about my epilepsy, as well as my race.
I may be black, but I’m not fucking stupid.
I’m currently reading “Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Racism” by Reni Eddo- Lodge:
When people say that this book was begging to be written, even after everything I had been through this year, as well as the hype on social media, I still thought that it was all hype. I wasn’t expecting to be so blown away. I remember struggling to get through the first chapter, because it was so hard-hitting. I actually had to take a break from reading it and now, I can’t put it down. I remember thinking: “why the fuck don’t they teach us this in school????” (Speaking of school, did you know there were black Tudors??? Because I didn’t! I used to teach about the Tudors as a Learning Support Assistant to young, disillusioned black girls and I had no idea, that there were black Tudors – that’s not in the book by the way, I just happened to stumble upon this book: Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, Their Presence, Status and Origins by Onyeka, which is on my Amazon wishlist.)
Reni’s book and this year, has made me realise how much of an immigrant I am.
It doesn’t matter that I was born here in Britain, or that I have a British passport; it doesn’t matter that I have a white partner; it doesn’t matter that I’m highly educated; it doesn’t even matter that I have more white friends than Black friends. White people will question my intelligence, my identity, my authority to abode all the fucking time.
This week I went on my first racial protest, following the murder of Rashan Charles, on Saturday 22nd July 2017, at the hands of a white policeman. He was a young Black boy of twenty years old. I’m not denying that he lived a straight life, but I’m definitively and loudly crying out that he did not deserve to die. The people on social media who were saying that he did, were all white – they said he was scum. Thankfully, the white people who were on the protest with us, were not narrow minded, right-wing, heartless, awful people, but brothers and sisters, standing with people of colour, who are tired of being murdered by the state and by white people in authority. I overheard one black man say to the man with the megaphone, that instead of shouting “Black Lives Matter”, we should be saying “all lives matter”, to include everybody who had joined us on the march. Rightfully, the man with the megaphone said no, and I say thankfully because we do have to keep on shouting “Black Lives Matter” until somebody fucking listens.
Before the march, we stood outside Stoke Newington Police Station in protest and I was so proud to hear young people of colour, bravely speaking up about their stories of persecution, at the hands of the police, and at the hands of others in authority (especially teachers). As a teacher, I’ve seen young Black people ruthlessly persecuted for “attitude problems”, for the way they stand, the way they wear their hair, etc, etc.
And then get told it’s all in their head.
When the Government are cutting funds and closing down community centres and youth projects, where else are young people going to go but onto the streets? Which are run by older men and gangs, who bully young people into doing things either they don’t want to do, or make them believe they need to do, in order to survive on these streets they’ve grown up in, with their families?
The role models they need aren’t around, because everything is being gentrified: their towns, even their schools. My school didn’t even want their one of two token black teachers, because I was fucking defective. My kids looked up to me – they told me every day, how awesome it was to finally have a Black English teacher in the school.
The reason why I went on that march on Monday, was not just for Rashan, but for the kids who I used to teach, who I still miss every day. Because what happened to Rashan and SO many others before him, could happen to them.
We need justice.
I’m going to stop now, because I feel I’m ranting.
But for now, I’m going to keep talking about race, because this year I’ve finally woken up thirty-one years too late.
RIP Rashan and love and peace to your family, especially your daughter.