Something happened to me yesterday and I knew this post would have to come and I knew all day today that I would find the time to write it but as that time crept closer, I felt myself trying to find the excuses. Trying to give myself an out.
There are a number of posts I can (and probably will) write about my insecurities, how they were manifested, how they’ve played out, where I place the blame and how I need to work on freeing it. The colour of my skin hasn’t felt like such a big one of those for a very long time. I remember growing up wishing I could be conventionally beautiful or that I didn’t have to wonder why that person looked at me that way or treated me that way but I’ve long since developed pride around my skin, it’s history and the history of the ancestors that contribute to it.
It was a harder thing to start to actively fight for the rights of people of colour, I don’t have an issue fighting for most other minorities but it’s only recently I’ve become proactive in drawing attention to PoC issues. However, anxiety still limits how vocal I feel I can be. The freedom to speak up has come from those who have been doing so through brave articles, protests and conversations. The bravest being my fellow people of colour but I also appreciate the efforts of those who are not PoCs because, unfortunately, their voices can be heard and accepted better than ours.
Which is why I never thought I would write a race-related article publicly myself.
Yesterday someone shared something on my personal Facebook page about their opinion on African refugees. Their opinion contained the most hateful language and concepts and admissions to acts of violence they had done and intended to continue doing. I quickly wrote a response, deleted the person and intended to try to move on.
I then had people respond to this message and many of them urged me to report this. So I called my local police station to find out what to do. The officer who took my call could not have been less compassionate or even interested. Even as my voice broke explaining what was wrong (yeah… he still wasn’t sure what my issue was) he didn’t give me any reassurance or any kind of empathy and I got off the phone very clear this man did not care about me… or people like me.
I started to think about that.
Thinking about how he really doesn’t have to.
The plight of people like me has nothing to do with him. Our suffering has nothing to do with him. I thought about the people who commit atrocities in this world and why. I thought about racial hate and how my own life experience (as painful as some of it has been) is just the tip of the iceberg. I looked at my two children and thought of the world they live in and tried to imagine what the world will look like in the future and I broke down and began to heave, sob and cry loudly and hysterically.
I felt hopeless.
Then I got myself some Listening Time from a pool of emergency Listeners, being sure to forewarn of the trigger. My Listener more than made up for the lack of compassion of the officer and I was ready to face my day. I reached out and gained beautiful and uplifting support all day and I felt better and more hopeful.
But there were things in me that this experience brought up and surprised me with.
As vocal as I have been about being proud of who I am and of my heritage, there was a part of me that felt embarrassed, not by the disgusting language and hatred spewed forth on my wall for all of my friends to witness (of course that too) but also by my colour being drawn to everyone’s attention. I know logically that people can look at me and see it but there was a part of me that said “now everyone knows” and then a part of me that felt immediately ashamed by that thought and those kinds of reactions I had in me… Still… like shouldn’t I not feel these things by now? Shouldn’t I be stronger by now?
I imagine there is loads more to come up and for me to reflect upon but the reality is that my skin colour is still an issue for me and for other people in 2018. That’s a sad reality. It breaks my heart to think of the suffering of other people around the world and what they experience every single day of their lives. Not just PoCs but any marginalised groups.
Empathy, REAL empathy is an eye opener. At times it can be an extremely painful process, to really put yourself in a position of asking how a person can come to be a certain way and at times it will feel like you don’t want to but I think that’s the only way to heal this world. It’s the only way to change this world and that’s why our work as empathic parents is so important. That’s why we can’t compromise when it comes to treating other humans as equals and we need to check ourselves to make sure that subtle bullying isn’t starting at home as per this article.
Listening Time is also the best tool we have as parents and each time I have used it for an incredibly tough topic, it’s been especially transformative. The topics that are hard to talk about are the ones we need to talk about most. Having said that, I want to offer Listening to those who are scared of what they need to unpack. There are no limits on my Listening offers so please reach out to me if you need to.
In the meantime, BE THE CHANGE!!!! Every little bit counts!
With loads of love, rawness and realness,