Feb 11, 2019
I love being black. I love diving into the various cultures of my ancestors, eating various African cuisine, studying the music, and looking up to the influencers (not the social media kind, but the actual kind) that overcame and championed throughout history. It wasn’t until highschool, that I really started to think about what it means to be a mixed-race kid in North America. I only started displaying different features well into my adolescence, and at that time I could sense there was something off. Never any blatant racism, or hindering of one’s development, but people had certain sensitivities to the word “black” when they were around me, or would ask me strange questions like “what is it like to be a minority?” To which I often replied, “it’s a lot like being white, except you get asked more questions.”
When I was in my final year of highschool I started taking a Human Rights class that allowed me to draw on this “mixed” perspective. It was during this class that I started to take note of a lot of strange patterns in media, and the not-so-hidden subliminal messages that are out there in our society. For instance; let’s take a look at most black characters written into movies up until, well to be honest the last 2 or 3 years. If you aren’t a Denzel Washington, a Sam Jackson, or a Halle Berry, you probably weren’t even written as a real character, but more of a caricature of what “black people are supposed to be like.” Then, let’s take a look at most toothpaste commercials (this one I actually became aware of in Grade 8). In most oral hygiene commercials, the model or actor is a black person. Why? The juxtaposition between the dark skin and the, usually, all white background makes the whiteness in the teeth look that much more white. A great marketing ploy for anyone trying to sell a product that whitens teeth, but maybe not the greatest job opportunity for someone who is hoping to land a gig based on their skillset and not the colour of their skin. From here, we can start diving into statistics based around education, poverty, crime, obesity, etc. and you begin to see the very subtle, and not-so-subtle, ways that racism is still thriving.
So what do we do? If I’m sitting here telling you, that the whole world is still stacked against you then what are you supposed to do about it? You’re supposed to work harder. Racism is alive and well, but it seems to be a common theme to use that as an excuse to let the system chew you up and spit you out. It’s not like Martin Luther King was the only successful black man in the history of the world. It’s not like Oprah Winfrey is the only successful black woman in existence. You have a choice, just like I do, and just like everyone else, to either get your grind on or to make excuses for yourself and your situation. This is the tough love thing you need to read, at the end of the day you can either be a statistic or a success story.
No matter what path you choose to take, this life is going to be a challenge, more so for you than for others. I speak now for all my fellow minorities; black, latino, LGBTQ+, asian, and everyone else out there who feels judged for something they have no control over. Don’t let the opinions of those who don’t matter tear you down or steer you away from your journey. You are more than a stereotype. Celebrate what makes you different, and keeping hustling.