I always thought of racism as a social construct not just by westerners but by black people who found themselves in the diaspora as well.
I moved to Italy, like “you all know” at the age of 11 *and three quarters*. I never thought racism as a thing. Never gave it time of day or thought for that matter. I mean, I was coming from a place where everyone looked alike, various shades of melanin aside, we were all “Children of the merciful Lord” – apart from the government leading the country at that time. No, not them, God didn’t love those.
I came to Italy because the father had been living here for an absurd amount of time and my mom was oddly fond of the idea “a family gatso live under the same roof”…or something along those lines. In the midst of very light skinned people – *shit, what is that? Your vein is saying hello? WTF is that normal?*-, I never thought of racism. Not even when people as old as my parents would say “If this and that happens, It’s because these oyinbo people don’t want you to be better than them. Like we set out to lick their faces and stain them with the color of our skins”. Even then, I never thought of racism as something that big of a deal. I mean, I know hate, I know misunderstandings but the depth of skin deep all that and then some went? Na, never gave it that much of a thought. It simply made no sense to me, you know? It’s like the Azande and witchcraft, it’s always the fault of the latter, never their fault.
You wanna know when reality hit me in the face? I don’t know, I can’t remember truth be told. Would I say what people around me had been saying about these “oyinbo [- white]” people had suddenly caught on and influenced my way of thinking? Boy, please. No.
But one (of many) paticular episode
shook me to the core made me say: Motherphucker, what did you say?
Chaka Khan | Ain’t Nobody
Felix Jaehn | This other body f. Jasmine Thompson
When my younger sister was born,
motherphucker looked like Benjamin Button you know? old as phuck we realised she was anaemic. So, in the beginning, we’d go back and forth from the kids’ hospital, where she got her regular treatments whenever she got her crisis/pain episodes. She was 4 and it was my turn to stay with her whilst the rest of the family caught a break from seeing the same ol’ walls. The girl would always cry ’cause she was always in severe pain, her joints and muscles would hurt and standard procedure: my lil motherphucker would cry. Word must have gone around the small pediatric warden that the little black girl was sick. Might I add, we were, of course, the only black family in that space radius. So, on this particular day, I decide to take the lil motherphucker out of bed, make her walk around a little bit you know? Make her paint, maybe she’d get distracted or something. I mean, I don’t know what I was doing but knowing that there were other kids tryna sleep, I, more than anyone else, know just how frustrating it can be to hear a kid wail at the top of her tiny lungs. So, I take her to play amirite? Plan seemed to be working, she was visibly still in pain but if I anybody knew my lil motherphucker, right at a tender age she’d always been strong and resilient. She’d make annoying little noises while painting and ask stupid questions like: Am I going to die? Negro, shut the phuck up I would reply: “Nah”.
After sometime though, my plan seemed to not work anymore ’cause she had started crying a whole lot more in the corridor. Out of the blue, came this stupid heifer and I remember her go to the nurse, who was on duty and she asked: Excuse me, that girl is crying. Can you tell them to go back to their rooms? I think her sickness might be contagious.
There was silence. Then there was rage. Then I lost it, then the nurse lost it too.
Now, maybe it’s understandable that a mother is trying to keep her poor likkle (not a typo, I said what I said -wrote rather) kid from all black crying babies of the world but man, I cried, cussed her bitchass out (which I rarely do, I was brought up well) and cussed her out a little bit more. Think her husband came to drag her back into their room ’cause he realised the wife wasn’t making sense after a while.
“Go back to Africa” “I don’t want your sickness”. I still didn’t think of racism then you know but I started to acknowledge it as a probable cause, nevertheless, I never pledged to the race card, all willy nilly.
With this acknowledgement though, there on forward, came a series of unfortunate events that made me reluctantly recognise that for some people “the black skin wasn’t the right skin”. Unless we were talking penis sizes and “rythm in their blood” factor, then all was
“I have to check your bag” – by an unauthorized sales lady, when I’d just put a used tissue paper in my bag in a supermarket and I had other people around going ’bout their business.
“Take this monkey you call a girlfriend out of my way” – by some man and his lady, when I was walking with someone.
“Is that you King Kong” – bullies,
hope they are in jail now with my leopard themed scarf around my neck, on my way back home from school on the bus.
“Hey Nigger, How much?” – usually from older men who would roll down their windows when they saw me walking.
“Thank you little nigger/monkey” – last year, by a small kid I gave Ice-cream. His dad didn’t let him apologise.
For years, I’d been taunted by people for the color of my beautiful skin. I’ve never had a problem with my skin. Maybe problems with my hair, my diastemed-crooked smile, hell even my extremely slim figure but my skin? Never. Hell, when Netlog was still the “in” thing, when Tom from Myspace was still in your Top 8 and Hi5 would do what Hi5 did best – exist, I made friends with self-provclaimed skinhead and racists. I’d troll my trollees and with some, I kept a cordial relationship.
Wanna know when I started having a problem with racism and racists?
When the belittling and racexplaining came in to play. It was with the covert rather than the open, blatant racism. It was with the old lady holding her purse a little to tight to her bossom, when I walked by (something I have started doing now too, can’t trust these hoes). It was the subtlity, the missed opportunities, the sneer, the backroom talk, the “It’s not racism, it’s just a figments of your immagination” talk- Bitch, whet? I just want everyone to acknowledge the wrong and the unjust that resides in people. You know?
I was a teenager when I finally acknowledged racism but that doesn’t mean I’m in the wrong for putting people on a high pedestal or rather thinking even though people were stupid, the couldn’t be that stupid. I was wrong. Meh.
This Girl | Cookin’ on 3 Burners ft. Kylie Auldist
This Other Girl | Kungs
sister lil motherphucker is great by the way. <3