I am NOT Black…video comments

9 Nov

New Canadian Federal cabinet aside (more on that later) I have to comment on Prince Ea’s video (I am NOT Black, you are not White) that is making the rounds on social media.

It’s a lovely sentiment. I hate labels too.
And if you are White, chances are you love this video. We have been taught that being “colour blind” is a good thing.
But here is the problem with not seeing skin colour in a world where racism is alive and well (systemic and individual):

We are not always treated equally based on skin colour.
Look around: driving while Black, carding by police, disproportionate numbers of Black (and Aboriginal) kids in the child welfare system, H&M not wanting to include Black people in their South African advertising (more on that later too!). The list goes on.

Because of this, erasing my colour when you look at me doesn’t work because it fools us into thinking we are treated equally. And it makes it even harder to talk about (and rectify) the injustice, the prejudice, the discrimination. People are treated differently (negatively) because their skin is not White, or their skin is darker.
It happens all over the world, and is a legacy of colonization.

Noticing that I am brown is NOT the same as assigning my skin colour a value.
It is noticing an important and fundamental part of who I am.

Using my skin colour against me is another story, but that doesn’t automatically come from noticing: that is racism and it’s taught. Small children notice differences all of the time: skin colour, hair colour, body size, etc… It’s ok to notice. It’s when you judge it and assign these aspects a value (negative or positive) that the trouble begins.

So I think I see where Prince Ea is trying to take us – to galaxy far far away  – is where the words we use to describe ourselves don’t carry the weight of “I’m better than you” or “you’re not as good as me”, where we can just be who we are and all live happily.

I hope we make it there in my daughter’s generation, but I’m not so sure.

Until then, please notice my colour.
It tells you something more about me, and it certainly impacts how I see and experience the world (like my other identities). Not talking about it doesn’t make it better, it makes me invisible.
Everyone wants to be seen.
When we really see each other, we can connect. And it’s through meaningful connections that we will make the world a better place – together.

See more.

Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Author and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion

Radio Show Host – Creating Families


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