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?
The weirdest thing is that because I’m mixed-race and lighter skinned than most coloureds, I get a lot of “complimentary racism” – is there even such a thing? I’ve been told more times than I care to remember that “I’m not like THEM” .. as if that’s something to be grateful for. It irks me so much when people think they’re being nice but really they’re just being incredibly ignorant and quite frankly assholes. I like to remind myself “not my circus, not my monkeys” and move on with my life.
Like you say, not your circus… As for the “complimentary racism”, believe me some folk think it’s the same as saying that you have pretty eyes. Daft much?! Some mothers children or is it some childrens mothers? It’s rather difficult to distinguish these days. *rolls eyes* You are different though. You’re a blogger. 🙂
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Ai in todays times. Must be an idiot.Total one
For sure Cat.
Glad you were able to get your vent out 🙂
It’s unfortunate that these racial undercurrents are still so prevalent in our communities, and its subtitlies are no place more evident than in the work environment. People we interact with as clients, service providers, colleagues, etc.
What I don’t like, and what really urks me, is when someone criticise/questions my capabilities/decisions made, and it is automatically said that the person is racist, even though their concerns and criticism is substantiated.This kind of reaction is often rooted in individuals who have a deep sense of guilt and over compensates the minute a person of color is in a position where they are exposed to critisism on issues that is non-related to the individuals ability, etc.
Then, you have the situation that you faced today Celeste, and you are confident in your individuality and recognise that some people are too weak to embrace those who are perfectly different!
Hope you feeling better, and that the anger has subsided 🙂
Wow I didn’t realise it goes to that extent in a workplace. So the whole racism thing is far more complicated than meets the eye. Seems as though everyone is damned whether they do or don’t.
I may be wrong but the way I see it the term is often used for lack of a better word when it comes to differences. I vote for effective conflict management and not just the current labelling system. Too many labels hanging in the air.
Felt much better after the suicide tut. Haha… It was just totally weird being on the receiving end of what many people have to deal with.
Anger dead and buried. 😀
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Racism is something that will stay with us for years to come. Sure, it’s based on stupidity…but, hey, who am I to judge, right?
I love when someone speaks at me thinking I’m daft and maybe got off the short bus, and then get the shock of their life when I open my mouth to speak. I have been on the receiving end of racism from fairer and darker angles. I’m either and idiot or have no culture…or both. My response? Go read your history books properly and trace your heritage. You might be (un)pleasantly surprised.
Thankfully, my mom raised to me to tolerate all and abhor stupidity and ignorance. It works for me. I come from a rainbow family (this includes friends) so someone else’s opinion of my greater clan is just that…their opinion. It simply doesn’t count. Mine does though. Race aside, being an ignoramous and a fool is just a sad state of affairs.
This rainbow person has no time for idiocy.
Yesssss! Many times it all comes down to opinions and whose we value. Ultimately it should be our own but sadly it’s not always the case. And it doesn’t stop at the battle of the races though. But that’s a story for another day.
“I love when someone speaks at me thinking I’m daft…” It’s like I can see your face (calm as always) and that of some unsuspecting person (shocked to the core). Ha ha ha…
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Hahaha, you know it 😀