I walk a different path to you.
There’s some vulnerability in my words and honesty embedded between them. I can’t claim for it to be the truth, but it’s my truth and one which I’ve come to know and acknowledge. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. I’ve developed somewhat of a thick skin. A form of resilience. Of durability. One which I once had a distaste for. Not for it but my need for it. Something which has now become a thing I value and appreciate.
I’ve grown to become increasingly aware that my brown skin makes me a target, my image problematic and my name, difficult. As if, instinctively, it incites an imprudent thought/reaction from some. Recognisably, a large “some”. A response they were conditioned to form. Wherever that conditioning was learnt from.
The vast majority of us make judgements based on previous understandings and simply embrace the comfort that familiarity brings. I don’t think it’s a secret to say that many embody this way of thought.
Do I blame them (people/us) for this? No, not necessarily.
We’re constantly embedded in a world so engrossed in disparities, inconsistencies, differences, inequalities. Searching for something to hold onto, that seems/feels/is accustomed and comfortable for us.
But what if you were made to feel less, because of these disparities and differences. That somehow, whilst surrounding yourself with people who come from all walks of life, your path is made to feel different. On a lesser road. On the other side of the park. Reiterating this existential disunion. Reaffirming the notion of “I and them”.
The same disunion that existed;
In school at 10, yet to discover the world but already discovering her worth.
During class at 14 being told it’s odd that I have a British accent, as though something different was expected from me.
At 16, when my name couldn’t be remembered but truth is, they never learnt it in the first place.
It’s as though, my values/ethic/sense of being and living isn’t enough.
Now imagine me, at twenty pursuing a degree at university. Gripping the idea that laying low and fitting it was the way forward, but instead sanctioning the reality that my differences were painted with one colour, and others different. Our canvas looks the same but mine is stained, whitewashed, discoloured. Or allowing the continuation of others making rash judgements about who/what I am, where I’ve come from and where I intend to stay.
Or reading an article online about a terror attack, by people who may share the same skin tone, or maybe he/she/they had a similar ring to their name as myself, and feeling a sense of dread. Of anger. Of shame. Of fear. Not because I have anything to do with them or it*, but because my image has once again become problematic, my brown skin a target and my name, difficult. Urging me to continue searching for ways in which I can convince others that I’m not them. Nor are they a representation of me. In many ways, in different situations, over and over.
That’s the path I’m made to walk. The lesser road. On the other side of the park.
Reiterating this existential disunion. Reaffirming the notion of “I and them”.
*it hurts me to still have to justify/defend myself