By E. Guimbang
I have a Colour! I am speaking this like Martin Luther King spoke of his Dream. Why? Because recently, some of my white friends have taken to expressing their affection for me by telling me that they do not see, mind or care about my colour. In the light of the Black Lives Matter movements, some of you have checked on me, listened to my struggles and concluded: “I am so sad this happened to you, a wonderful human being who ‘transcends’ colour”.
Friends, yes, I love your intention but no, I will not let my blackness be snatched away from me just like that. Being black makes me proud, it makes me happy, it makes me ME! If you think I am better off as far away from ‘blackness’ as possible then think again. What I want is for you to see my colour, my history, my culture, my heritage, my beauty as a black woman. Do ask yourself why you consider blackness a minor detail of who I am? Can you sense how hurtful it is for people to tell you who you are what you are not?
Of course, History and recent events have made discussions on race even more complex. I get that you are looking for common ground and trying to be empathetic when you say you don’t see colour. Maybe you do not see my colour because it is not easy to live with some of the connotations associated with whiteness and blackness. Maybe you can’t see your own colour because you never had to. To me today, your colour blindness unfortunately resonates like prejudice against me. No matter what your reason is, to think colour is irrelevant, I claim mine, with self-assurance and trepidation. I hope that together we can reach a point where as individuals and communities, we can say: ‘I am black’ and ‘I am white’ in a way that overcomes societal burdens.
Hiding from who we are or letting others shape our identity is not the solution. It is not my solution. Let us decide who we want to be in the skin and with the History we were born in. It’s potentially healing for us all. I love you, dear white friends. Love me too, skin and all. I have a colour. I do.