It starts with you…

How we got here does not protect us from everyday racism that we face in workplaces and in all aspects of life in the UK, and as such we should be kinder to another, be more tolerant and fair, respectful and mindful of one another.

“Overcome the devils with a thing called love.”  Bob Marley

In recent months this country (UK) has seen a major rise in knife crimes and young lives have been cut short and families devastated by this.  As we speak there’s a summit in downing street and the biggest issue is ‘who is not doing enough?’  Apparently, under new home office proposals, teachers, NHS workers and police officers could be held accountable for failing to spot violent crime.  As much as that could be the case, the community and families have a duty to look to themselves and find the root cause of the problem – postcodes wars, gangland turf etc.  The most horrifying statistic is that the violent crime is mainly by young black men on other young black men.  Another equally horrifying statistic is that the Kamaus and Okellos, KenBrit millennials, have started popping up all over CPS charged with crimes ranging from petty theft to knives to rape.  The question now is, what more can the black community do?  I’ve heard a lot of things and suggestions and I agree with many of them, but my one and only suggestion is love.  Love for self and neighbour.

Recently at a superstore, I witnessed a bizarre argument between two black women – I think they were fighting over something on the floor.  One was very light skinned, like the bleaching type, and had a deep west African accent.  The other was blacker than a deep purple night and spoke like Peggy Mitchell from EastEnders.  Peggy rounded up the argument by saying something that left everyone, including the security guard and shoppers, stunned.  “Go back to your hut in Africa and bleach your fucking face there, you effing c word! [I won’t write out loud the c word – it’s too vulgar]” The words were said with so much anger and hatred that it was obvious the anger and hatred was not from that argument but from something deep rooted.  The bleached woman was as stunned as everyone else and walked out without uttering a single word.  It is often said that women are the backbone of any functional society, but what example would we be sending our children if we can’t stand one another because of where our blackness originates. 

Now, I never questioned my blackness because I was born in a country where being black is the default.  The struggles or discrimination faced are rarely based on the tone of your skin.  Then I came to England and realised I was black and some people in the society saw me as less than.  At first, I decided the best course of action was to interact and integrate with people who looked more like me – there I met a different kind of discrimination – I was black African, fresh from feasting with Mufasa’s family, had a strong ‘African’ accent therefore I was less than.

I know I am not the only one bothered by the black on black violence and verbal abuse against one another.  I know I am not the only bothered with the fact that some black people who were born here feel they are more entitled than black people who have migrated from various places.  I know I am not the only one bothered by those black people who think because their ancestors suffered unimaginable atrocities that they are more entitled to be here than those black people who came here illegally, or legally because they had deep pockets or otherwise.  As black people we must understand that we are all hated equally by UKIP and white supremacists whether you came here willingly by plane with a visa, illegally by boat without a visa, or your ancestors came unwillingly by ship hundreds of years ago.  As far as they [UKIP etc] are concerned black is black.

How we got here does not protect us from everyday racism that we face in workplaces and in all aspects of life in the UK, and as such we should be kinder to another, be more tolerant and fair, respectful and mindful of one another.  Some Africans have abandoned their African heritage by adopting horrendous accents that make them sound like aliens just so they can be accepted by other black people.  I am proud of being a KenBrit (Kenyan in UK) but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t stand in solidarity with black British people to fight discrimination.

I am not saying that the supermarket scene represents all non-African blacks’ feelings towards African blacks but things I’ve heard over the years seems to support that.  I heard of a Jamaican woman who threatened suicide if her son married a Ugandan woman.

For productive progress to occur we all must accept and learn from one another especially since the legacy of colonisation still ravages the souls of those whose ancestors were not necessarily chained and shipped to faraway lands.  Those that remained [in Africa] had to fight for their rights in their own backyards – fight for their properties, fight for their beliefs, fight for their way of life, fight fight fight and then they were branded terrorists and not freedom fighters. 

The black panther movie inspired the spirit of togetherness, but nothing will change until black people heal the deep-rooted hate and fear for one another, learn from one another, accept one another, respect one another and be each other’s keeper.  Our youth need this now more than ever and it starts with you.

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