We are living in a world where your skin color can cost you your life.
I am glad that we are talking about it and everyone has something to say, but are you listening to the right people? Not always... and here is the "Black Matter".
I am a Professional Dancer and Lecturer. My mentors were White, Black and Asian. Love and Unity built me. Educating people about racism in 2020 is more important than ever. However, you should make sure to know why and how. So what do we want? What does a black person want? I decided to talk about it as it seems like people don't really know and I won't blame them for that. I didn't know either until that day...
Saturday morning, on a nice summer day. I was a child, probably around 8 and I was at the market with some friends. I used to live in a charming small town, that place was always so busy. I was so happy because I was allowed to enjoy some time on my own with my older friends. I was happily running around, playing hide and seek, I had so much fun until I tripped over and bumped into that man who yelled at me:
<< DO NOT TOUCH ME F****** NIGGER!!!! >>
The time stopped for long seconds. The busy market became completely silent, everyone was staring at me, I was petrified. I was confused. I was so young but I understood. I truly did. I can't explain why, it was my very first time but I understood the power of his words. I stayed silent the entire time, as all the adults around me. I was alone. I was scared. No one said anything. Then the man left... and life continued as if none of this happened. I kept playing with my friends. I never talked about it, to no one, until today. After all, it was just another beautiful summer day.
That was my first time.The first time I experienced racism and sadly we all have one.
I had completely forgotten about this incident, I didn't remember it until someone yelled at me from his car a few months ago, while I was waiting for my bus: << F****** NIGGER!!!! >>
Just like in my childhood memory everyone at the bus station remained silent. I was really shocked that day and I was convinced that it was my first time. I spoke about it to my fellow cast members just before our evening show the next day, their love and response to that was overwhelming. They stood by my side and gave me so much love. They gave me hope. They were all white. I genuinely thought that it was the first time but today I remember, it wasn't. I had completely erased this memory from my mind, like that day where the police brutally arrested me by mistake. The violent "incident" happened after a night out at the club to celebrate my 18th birthday, I was walking home alone, it was a quiet and peaceful night. I was obviously innocent, I said it very clearly, I was yelling at them in the car: << Where are you taking me? I'm innocent! I didn't do anything wrong!>> 4 violent angry men, I will never forget their violence, physical and verbal, they terrified me. After a few hours at the police station they released me. Not an apology, they didn't take me home, they did nothing. I couldn't tell anything to my parents because it was my first authorized night out. That was also another first time.
Not every cop is racist, I know it, nor every black man walking in the street is a criminal. I erased those memories from my mind and it all comes back to me now.
I consider myself lucky, I could share so many hurtful stories like this as any black person could. Yes I feel lucky as it feels like nothing. Some black people risk their lives everyday... Despite those experiences, I decided to be happy, I live my best life and I love people.
I am lucky and I am grateful for that.
So what do we want? Probably the same things, we are not different, we have our strengths and our weaknesses like everyone else. Today in 2020 a black person still wants the same thing: to not feel black in your eyes and your actions. We want to be treated equally, to have the same opportunities, on a regular basis, not just now, not only for the next few weeks. We want to be offered a gig because we are amazing and not because it is trendy. We want you to stand by our side if you witness racial abuse, we want you to be as concerned as we are if it happens in front of you.
And what's next? I know you might have donated, signed a petition, shared your black square on social medias etc... this is nice. However, it is deeper than that. There is more to do and here is how you can make THE difference: If you are a white person, a parent or considering to be one in the future, and you are reading this blog, the best thing you can do is to help erasing racism as its source. A child is born pure and innocent. Make sure they live happy lives surrounded by diversity. Educate your white child with love. Show them how to love equally. Perhaps purchase (also) black dolls, buy books from black authors and/or books featuring black characters, and the same for any other people of color from different countries and cultures... and most importantly don't make it a big deal! I mean there is no need to justify it, you don't have to. Normalize it the best you can. At the end of the day it is simply the representation of the world we are living in!
Talk about racism within your own family. Do your best at your own level, adjusting the complexity of the explanation to your child's age. You can keep it very simple. It is truly needed: a few months ago I heard about that white child at primary school who said to one of her peers: << You can't play with us, no black children allowed>>. This child is 5 years old.
If you decide to take bigger actions about racism, if you genuinely want to change people around you, do not hesitate to ask black people for their guidance. The other day I sat with this lovely lady (on Zoom), we discussed about it for more than an hour. She needed to learn from black people and she was right, she talked to many black people around her before taking action and this way she knew she couldn't go wrong! Obviously I can't talk for every black person in the world, however I can guarantee you that every single one of us share the same desire: the color of my skin should not define who I am. And this thought is shared by many people of color, wherever they are from.
By standing with us you are part of the solution and I am proud of you for that.
My online dancing journey took me to an unexpected place today and again, it was on a beautiful summer day.