Ever heard the quote: “You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to”?
To me the colour of my skin is and has always been irrelevant. Like really, what am I evens if not a woman? What goes on in my head and more importantly my heart is what matters. The choice to remain in my bubble instead of the harsh realities going on around me wins everytime. Some may say I’m naïve and maybe they’re right. I see it as being blessed to be surrounded with genuine kindred souls. Some of which are black and others white.
Then there are some people who are just idiots and that’s got nothing to do with the colour of their skin. People are subjected to discrimination on a daily basis. It’s not just black or coloured people though. White people have to endure it too. Unfortunately our paths will cross with the ignorant of this world some time or the other. Albeit on the street, in a work environment or prompted by a picture on social media.
This morning I was confronted with racism and prejudice for the first time I can think of. As I opened an email response from someone, I noticed a few things. I could make a list of everything that irked me about said email but the one thing that stuck out was the fact that the sender thought I was an idiot. The colour of my skin, no doubt, has “it” believing that “it’s” is dealing with just another coloured idiot. The colour of my skin probably also prompted “it” to talk down on me.
You see, this person is known to be stuck on the other side of democracy. The side where people of colour has no place in this world other than to “Ja baas, nee baas”. Coincidentally the side where they believe people of colour are ‘beyond stupid’ and desperate for any crumbs tossed their way. Where has “it” been?
As I read the email for the tenth time, my initial irritation now gone, I couldn’t help but laugh. Laugh at the fact that this person was more of the fool “it” thinks me to be.
Why? Because, skin colour aside, I’m no fool and don’t suffer fools lightly either. I fight when I need to and when it’s for a good cause. Not because some person replied to my email, thinking “it’s” high and mighty because of “its” skin colour, and almost got to me. But because I know the difference between right and wrong. Advising someone of a critical error they’ve made is the right thing to do. Requesting they make the necessary adjustments is also the right thing to do. Everyone makes mistakes. I do too. Engaging in an email war and risk it getting more personal is not the way I choose to start my week and totally the wrong thing to do.
I must confess that I did reply to the email and gave “it” a tutorial on how to slit “its” wrists the right way to ensure that “it” goes straight to hell instead of just making a mess of things and wasting everyones time. I was that mad for a moment.
Knowing that most people don’t have it in them to tell someone where to get off in person makes email/virtual battles such a waste of time and energy. Did I mention what a joke I think it is? Especially race battles. Getting annoyed over ignorant people is also not part of the plan even though it does catch you off guard sometimes. Feeling hurt over such trivialities is a definite no-no. But it does happen. I didn’t send the email though. It was just my way of venting because of not having someone to verbalize my grievances with. Rant over. I must also advise at this stage that you should never allow your emotions into a fight. It clouds your judgement.
Why give someone power over you? Why give the weak power at all? That’s what they are, weak. Nothing you can do or say can make someone decide to change their thinking patterns in an instant. Racists come in all shapes sizes and colours. Let the racist be racist, it’s what they know. But don’t be afraid to be you either. There is no law that states you have to feel bad/sad or threatened when faced with one. You are the only person who decides how people will treat you. Black, Coloured or White hold your head high and don’t be ashamed of who you are. None of us had a choice over how we were born but we do have choices on how we deal with issues.
My parents and grandparents are the previously disadvantaged. I’m not and I don’t bow down to anyone. It’s more of me not knowing how to bow down. If there is one rule I live by it’s: RESPECT IS EARNED. IT GOES BOTH WAYS. AT ALL TIMES.
Skin colour aside, I am what I am and that is a woman. I was born this way and intend to make the best of it.
So how do you fight a racist? Simple really. You don’t. Just ignore it. Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away but entertaining it will surely drive you insane. They will always be around but the awesome thing is that they’re cowards who mostly prevail and fight in the virtual world behind the anonymity of keyboards and touch screens. In work environments they’re often the ones keeping you from promotions and keep you from growing. In that case, empower yourself. Make sure you can’t be turned down the next time a position needs filling. Or make a move and broaden your horizons. This is where I reiterate that people treat you the way you allow them to.
PS: The best part of this mornings episode was once again realising that people hate being wrong and will resort to all kind of tactics, including racism, to make them feel better about themselves. Wonder if it works for them…
PPS: Knowing you crawled under someones skin enough for them to resort to that, is a victory in itself. Kind of like an “I own you” moment. *raises coffee mug like a boss*
Back to my bubble where racism and prejudice does not exist.
How do you deal with racism?