For once, I’ll go against my own digital policy of not publishing pictures of my kids.
It will be just one.
Please meet my daughter. It doesn’t show but black history runs in her blood, as her paternal grandmother is black. And because my daughter’s hair is blond, because her skin is fair, she will never face racial profiling. Thanks to genetic lottery, she will never be oppressed on a daily basis because of her skin tone. And it is really sad to brand her as « lucky » because it shouldn’t be a luck. It should be the case for everyone on this planet.
If you think that the BlackLivesMatter movement is about police violence, you miss the point. Police violence towards black people is a symptom of a much more deeper issue, which is an institutionalized racism in the US (and not only in the US, I must say).
If you don’t understand that racism has always been an economic and political system, you miss the point too. Racism took root in the triangular trade put in place by Europeans in the 16th century, with the enslavement and transportation of African people to the US. It continued in the US with the slavery in Southern plantations. Black people were profitable commodities and it lasted even after the abolition of slavery in 1865.
The whole plantation system – deprived from its free workforce – collapsed but Southern white people were prompt to see a legal opportunity in Amendment XIII. Black people were arrested en masse for extremely minor crimes, incarcerated and forced to provide labor for free. To do so, it was crucial to create a myth around the inherent violence and dangerosity of black people. Such myth prospered for decades and ended up being propelled because of economic and political issues, fulled by lobbies.
Racism is a cultural disease. The only way to fight it is to educate ourselves, listen, read, watch, think, be sympathetic and empathetic. Go beyond clichés.
Running the risk to repeat myself but:
Being non-racist and not paying attention to the skin color of people
Being anti-racist and appreciating what a black skin means in terms of trauma, history and culture
are totally different
When you « don’t care about the skin color » of black people around you, you make black people invisible. Instead of doing « as if they were white », embrace the fact that they have a different background as yours. You are the social and cultural product of white history. Well, breaking news: black people are the social and cultural product of black history.
(*no need to say that all of the above applies to every single minority, be it racial, sexual, religious but it’s not the point today)
Be interested. Ask questions. Do your research.
And for example:
Next time you listen to the rhythm’blues “Work Song” by Nina Simone, please pay attention to the lyrics.
Next time you listen to a rap song, please pay attention to the lyrics.
Next time you enjoy jazz, rhythm’blues, soul music, never forget that these musical genres take root in gospel music.
Next time you watch “Gone with the Wind”, please bear in mind that Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy, was not allowed to attend the premiere of the movie. Even if she eventually won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Next time you watch the movie “Get Out”, please go beyond the pleasure of watching an awesome horror movie and also reflect on the racial themes brilliantly developed by the director Jordan Peele.
June 7, 2020