I was in Grade 1 or 2, I’m not sure but my friend was light…you could mistake her for being colored actually. She got invited to our white friend’s house and she told me to come with and when we got there, they (our friend) were not there yet so we waited. then when they did arrive, a bunch of white and colored kids when into the yard, plus my friend. When I entered, shawty said, “I don’t think my parents are gonna be comfortable. I can always come to your house. – Katlego Moloko
It’s time we, as Africans, finally talk about racism more proactively.
Of course, we talk about race in classrooms, in group discussions, in offices but how far do those conversations really go? How much noise comes from those conversations and what gets done long after those sensitive, controversial conversations?
What does being African mean?
Being African is to be complex… it is to be aware of the issues facing Africa but not letting it consume your soul… being African is to come from a land of complexity. It is to live with the horrors of the past and present, but welcome the excitement of the unknown future.
We all have a sense of individualism that sets apart our definitions of being African, different, and similar experiences and cultures that tie all of us here on the motherland together. It doesn’t matter what the colour of your skin is if you’re born here or your blood flows with the rich and at times devasting history that makes this land what it, then you are an African. Period, the end.
But let’s get one thing straight. You can be African, but that does not mean you are Black?
Many people love Black Culture but being Black is not linear, there’s no way to define your “blackness” other than being yourself, a black person in this filthy world. So when we do things ‘for the culture’ it means we do it for ourselves. Talking a certain way, dressing a certain way, or acting a certain way will not equate to being black if you know you’re not. We know that we’re trendsetters.
Black people come in all shapes and sizes. Some are weird, some are emo, some like EDM whilst others like House or Hip Hop. Others like to read, while others don’t. Some are shy and reserved and others are outgoing and confident. We are all different, we follow different trends and aesthetics but that does not take away our blackness.
It’s time we dropped this narrative of shaming others by referring to them as white or as ‘coconuts’. It is toxic and damaging.
In the same token, growing up in a Black neighbourhood or around Black folks does not give you an incentive to use the n-word if you are not Black.
There’s a word used on this continent used to identify biracial people: coloured. Initially, it meant having one white parent and one Black parent. Lately, the definition has changed to being non-white as races continued to mix and they became multiracial.
Personally, I’ve been friends with people of colour who identified as coloured, whilst they had Middle-Eastern backgrounds. I came to learn that being colour is more of a culture, a way of life…not necessarily about the colour of your skin.
Back in high school, said friends would use the n-word and when I’d remind them to not use that word, they’d tell me that “This is not America, it doesn’t matter” and they’d continue to sing or rap along to whatever song and use the n-word without a care in the world.
Another time was when said friend (who would often say that she’s blacker than me for one reason or another) jokingly told her mother that I was dating her brother. The mother said, you can’t and when my friend asked why she said ‘because you’re black’.
There’s the issue in black and white. Plain as it can be. People want the glory of Black culture without actually having to be Black. It happens on a daily, right here on our continent where many people I’ve encountered believe racism here is nonexistent. It may not be as prevalent as the Apartheid which only ended about a couple of decades ago, but it’s real and it happens.
So when you give your white friend or PoC (People of Color) friend a pass to call their n***a, I implore you to think twice.
Yes, this is not America but this is the land where our ancestors were taken from their homes and ways of life and were forced into slavery. This the land where white people docked their shits and brought their racist tendencies with them. We all have an understanding of what the n-word means to Black people, so stop allowing white and non-black People of Color to continue to disrespect Black people on a global scale. It’s wack and it’s corny.