I am a black woman who has lived in the west for many years. I like it a lot here – there are more of life’s conveniences and there are no electricity black outs. I appreciate and enjoy the lifestyle I live. There are also some disadvantages of living in a country which is racially different from you, in spite of all the good things offered to me. One of those things is racism. I have written about racism before in this post.
However, sometimes I think that some of us blacks tend to suspect any white person who does something out of the ordinary to be racist because of our previous experiences. I will give an example. I went to the main public library today where I regularly borrow books. When I got off the train, I decided to take the elevator up along with others. One elderly white man came to the elevator but for whatever reason, did not enter. An elderly black woman in the elevator asked if he was coming and he did not respond.
The lack of reaction from the man annoyed the woman who started saying some interesting things as we were going up – “You don’t want to take the elevator because we are blacks, Africans, N Word? So you can’t stand us? You think you are better than us? You will see! I will catch you.” Let me mention here that there were six people in the elevator in total – three blacks and three whites.
I wondered how the woman could have known that the man was racist. Did she have a previous encounter with him? Had the man said something racist that I did not hear? Maybe the man just did not want to share the elevator with many people. Who knows? I assumed that the woman just had a chip on her shoulder and so her first thought about the man was to scream “Racist!”. Fortunately or unfortunately, the man of course, did not hear this monologue.
I have seen similar reactions from some of my fellow blacks who always assume that they are being targeted racially. I find it really tiring because sometimes the non-blacks either really don’t know something (e.g. someone said she hadn’t known before that Africans’ palms and soles of their feet are lighter colored that other parts of their bodies) or are trying to help (e.g. one Viennese warned an African to watch out because the part of woods she would be going to had snakes). In both cases my African sisters were offended, but I personally did not see any issue.
One thing I have learnt is not to assume racism unless it is either blatant otherwise I will not live a happy life. Maybe I am just being fussy over nothing or not fully tuned to racist vibes, I don’t know. I just think we should take it easy sometimes.