December 14, 2018

BY CHRISTEL ALLISONIMG_1120

It’s 2016 – do you think racism still exists? Of course I do.

It might not be 1860 when black people had to sit at the back of the bus and the sign on the bathroom door said “No blacks allowed,” but racism is very much alive.

I chuckle and feel very offended when people boldly say to me, “I don’t see colour.” Yes, you see colour. You see how pigmented my melanin-rich skin is.

So, the fact that you choose to pretend that we are exactly the same is ignorant. Ignorance is the new racism.

However, I don’t consider racism an offence committed only by a Caucasian individual. I was sitting on the bus – not at the back, of course – and I overheard a coloured girl making fun of a stereotypical feature of an Asian man standing a few inches from me. That, to me, is just as insulting as a middle-aged Caucasian using the highly condescending “N word.” Whichever way you want to look at it, it’s all racial profiling.

So, personally, I don’t buy into the idea of fingers constantly being pointed at a specific race. We’re all equally involved.

As long as you discriminate against another race or make a generalized comment about a specific trait that in some way makes your race appear superior, you are racist. The interesting thing is, the ability, or lack thereof, to be racist is not specific to colour. So, the white, black or brown person sitting next to you might be one.

I do not think anyone needs to be a victim of racism, regardless of the colour of their skin. It would probably be easier to combat racism if people didn’t avoid the topic so much. It’s some sort of taboo to bring up the topic or express a need to talk about it.

People get a little frightened when I ask them about diversity or their views on race and they start reciting a textbook version like they’ve sat in front of a mirror all their lives practising for that very moment.

I’m not some sort of activist or promoter of racial tolerance. I’m just very comfortable in my skin. I embrace my pigmentation and I try to allow people that freedom too. Freedom to be exactly who they are without placing a label on them.

We shouldn’t pretend that the next person isn’t different. Real growth would be accepting that they are different but not treating them differently because of their race or the colour of their skin.

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