To be Black AND British
As a child, I shouldn’t have had to learn so quickly that ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’. But being Black and British, this isn’t a lesson you have the choice of skipping. I have seen a post be retweeted a lot on twitter in the past couple of days and also surface on Instagram in which people say ‘to be black is to research racism in a country before booking your holiday/vacation’. This got me thinking and I wanted to take a moment to express what being black and British has meant for me.
To be Black AND British….Means that before you learn about primary colours, you must learn that you will hated for the colour of your skin.
To be Black AND British….is to be called a liar at any given time and have to prove otherwise. Always guilty, until proven innocent.
To be Black AND British…is to have your primary school blame you for anything that has been broken even when you are not the cause. To have them sit you in timeout and have your peers stay silent rather than confess or speak up.
To be Black AND British….is to be told you are not welcome at children’s parties and that your ‘sort’ is not who parents would like as a friend for their child.
To be Black AND British…is to experience acts of random violence without cause.
To be Black AND British….is to be pulled out of a mainstream education class and placed into the special needs one, with no confirmation that I should be there or approval from my parents.
To be Black AND British….is to not speak up on the racism treatments and behaviours because you don’t want to make more work for your parents.
To be Black AND British…..is to be told by your teacher that you must be sensitive to the little boy in the class who doesn’t have a dad but to have your complaints of his bullying and repeated use of the ’N’ word dismissed immediately.
To be Black AND British….is to watch the school label your older brother as a trouble maker because he is black but disregard the racist bullying he was subjected to by his peers. To say he is just a naughty boy and make my parents jump through hoops to get him recognised as dyslexic.
To be Black AND British….is to see your sister distance herself from you in the playground so that she doesn’t unwittingly get the same ignorant racist behaviours as you.
To be Black AND British….is to have a peer of yours bully your sister whilst also telling you they wish they were black because they really like watching Moesha, Keenan & Kel and Sister sister!
To be Black AND British….is to have your teacher always wanting to discuss St. Lucia with you, even though you are not from that island nor have you ever been.
To be Black AND British….Is to have another student lie about you punching them in the face and for them to run with that lie and only listen to you after escalation and you have cried due to the threat of suspension/expulsion. Its having your own parent, question if it is true because the schools is so confident.
To be Black AND British….is to be constantly belittled by your maths teacher. For her to tell you that you are going to fail the higher paper and drop out the bottom. To have here block you from moving from second set to top set, even though you are predicted an A.
To be Black AND British….is to be asked if you can trace your ancestry before the school will consider giving you admittance. A kick in the teeth considering the global misplacement of black people due to the international slave trade.
To be Black AND British….is to never have celebrated Black history month in school.
To be Black AND British….is to be told that you cant join critical thinking because you don’t have the grades for it. And when you point out that you have an A* in English and in History, and As in other subjects, that actually, you just aren’t the right fit.
To be Black AND British….is to hear teachers in your school calling your Black peers monkeys with full impunity.
To be Black AND British….is to be labelled a trouble maker and given a warning when you act out because a teacher is always acting inappropriately towards you.
To be Black AND British….is to be told that you have to represent your county in athletics because its the sport of your ‘people’.
To be Black AND British….is to have certain demographics interested in you purely to satisfy a fetish that they have or to hear people joke about how they want a ‘cute brown baby’ as if its that simple.
To be Black AND British….is to know better then to choose certain destinations and countries for a holiday because their racism is too rife.
To be Black AND British….is to witness the shock on an employers face when you walk into interview after they have seen you on paper and heard you on the phone.
To be Black AND British….is to be policed by everyone in the office, to be reported to HR when you return one day later from holiday then expected even though your line manager has approved it. To be actively bullied in the office and have claims regarding said behaviour be dismissed by HR as an accident.
To be Black AND British….is to have the head of HR in an international company tell you that you have made up having anxiety, that is convenient and doubtful and to prove it. Only to have your offers to prove it with medical certificates rubbished away.
To be Black AND British….is to constantly say, please don’t touch my hair
To be Black AND British….is to have a SVP ask you intrusive questions about if your hair is a wig, weave or extensions because he has a new black assistant and has been reading up.
To be Black AND British….is to keep your hair relaxed and straight to better fit into corporate environments.
To be Black AND British….is to be hired for a job with the knowledge that they are just making up the diversity quota.
To be Black AND British….is to be repeatedly have your health concerns dismissed and your be sent about for A&E 5 times with internal bleeding, leading you to use private health care to get help.
To be Black AND British….is to never be able to win. To be questioned when you arrive at the office on time, to be questioned when you arrive at the office early.
To be Black AND British….is to be told to go back to where you came from, even as you stand a few hundred yards from the very hospital that you were born in.
To be Black AND British….is to witness the press viscously tear down Meghan Markle when she should have been celebrated to the same standard that Kate was.
To be Black AND British….is to always be followed around shops and stores by the security guards without provocation.
To be Black AND British….is to be told to be grateful because the UK isn’t nearly as racist as other countries, and that if we don’t like it we should go elsewhere.
So the next time you think to ask a Black British person to prove that the UK isn’t racist, consider why it matters to you so much. Why you would rather ignore something which has been repeatedly proven through British history to be an issue. Why would you look for already known answers from a society that excused it away with buzz words such as “institutional” in a country that dragged out the prosecution of Stephen Lawrence for 19 years and yet the same system has flung £11.75m to date on finding Madeline McCann.
To be Black AND British….is to always be expected to turn the other cheek, now there are no cheeks left. No more. We are done.