AS a mother living in the world we live in, I have chosen not to raise my children to be colour blind. I have chosen not to raise them to believe the fallacy that everyone is equal.
Put your pitchforks down, let me explain.
The idea behind colour blindness, in terms of race relations, is simply choosing not see someone’s colour, seeing them as the same as you.
Let’s be real, saying you are colour blind is only something someone with white privilege or someone from a financially privileged background claims to be.
The problem with this concept is in choosing not to acknowledge someone’s ethnicity; you are also refusing to acknowledge their histories and their struggles. You are assuming your experiences are the same and that life is all fair and hunky dory.
In a nutshell you are actively ignoring difference on the shallowest level.
As such you end up making dumbass comments like, “Black people should change their mindsets,” or “All lives Matter!” or “I’m not a racist, I have black friends.”
The concept of All Lives Matter insinuates that all lives are viewed equally and it is obvious they are not. Globally those of African heritage face the most discrimination of any other ethnic group, even in countries like Trinidad and Tobago where they are not a minority group.
Do me a favour and for the love of God do not ever tell any black person to “get over slavery.” I swear I will punch a colour blind fool straight in the mouth….test me…this bitch got fight.
Many of the problems faced globally by black communities are directly related to the after effects of slavery, white colonialism, segregation and the trauma inflicted upon the African diaspora.
I am not in a position to judge or tell their story.
I am not in the position to say that I fully understand the experience of those from African, Indian, Asian heritage who came to Trinidad and Tobago either willfully or forcibly.
However I am in a position to acknowledge their experiences and the hardships faced. I am in the position to empathise and to work to understand.
I am also in the position to accept responsibility of my ancestors and do better.
When I was 23, the head of the department where I worked, loudly told me in front of my colleagues, “Alicia, you will never get a raise because you are white girl. We all know you are just working for fun. In a few years, you’ll get married and never work again. White girls like you don’t really need raises because you don’t really need the money.”
I died inside a little bit. I was hurt because this came from a woman whom I greatly admired. I was angry because she made these unfounded judgments and humiliated me.
What she did was wrong, but as I have grown I understand. I understand to her I was white-privileged personified. I was a constant reminder of how unfair the world is to people of colour.
I will never be told to straighten my hair or wear a wig to appear more professional. I will never be judged on how my name sounds. I will never have to work as hard as a woman of colour to prove herself in society. I will never have to fight the fights she fought to make it were she is.
Her resentment, I understand because to be honest I would feel the same way.
It would be wrong of me to say I have never knowingly benefited or gloated ignorantly in my white privilege, because I have. I cannot say I never have been racially or culturally insensitive because I have.
What I can say, is I have learned. I have acknowledged my role in feeding into systemic racial bias and I am sorry.
While I can never fully understand the trauma felt by those affected by racism, I can acknowledge their struggles and fight for them when it is needed.
This is what I hope to teach my children.
I need them see colour and acknowledge that everyone’s experience is different. I need them to understand their white privilege and the responsibility that comes with it.
I will not teach my children to be colour blind. I will teach them to be tolerant, to stand up against the degradation of others, to fight against racism and bigotry.
The world is filled with inequality and injustices. My only hope to raise two children to understand this and to fight it.
Until then #blacklivesmatter.