In the past weeks, I have received a couple of messages from friends about the ongoing black lives matters topic. A lot of heated arguments and discussions have been debated online about racism. A lot of demonstrations have gone on and a lot of people have shared their experiences. I find some stories very painful and very unfair in regards to what some people went through or are going through due to racism. I have received several messages from friends, both black and white friends asking for my opinion about the subject ‘black life matters and racism’ but, have said nothing.
I consider the subject ‘black lives matters/racism’ to be a very sensitive topic to write about and each person who has experienced racism felt it differently; some may have experienced it more painfully than others. In my opinion, the term racism is overrated and some issues are wrongly construed as racism. I am writing this piece to share my experience as it confuses me each time I think about it. I don’t know whether to call it racism or not because, my experience was with blacks not whites. I will leave it to my readers to give it a name after reading the stories below.
My first encounter happened when I was working in Amsterdam. I entered the elevator one early morning with a black woman whom I greeted. She asked where I come from and realised we are all West Africans. As I selected my exit floor button, the question she asked was if I clean on that floor? I smiled and said I work there.
At that time I didn’t take it personally; I was so cool with it until a week later another black person met me in that same building. This time around it was an African man whom I met outside, while I was entering the building. Again we greeted each other and he trying to make a conversation asked, ‘lady, which cleaning company do you work for?’ His question got me thinking and wondering why the two black people I have met in the building thought I was a cleaner?
I took a second look at myself in the mirror when I entered the office, just to be sure if I looked like a cleaner, but I didn’t! I know I dress good and love to look good to feel good, so what could be wrong?
My third experience happened right in my neighbourhood when I was going home after work. I met a black woman who asked me for directions to a location which I assisted her. After assisting her, she asked if I work in the neighbourhood; I said I live there and her next statement was ‘oh nice, you must be married to a white man’. I didn’t freak out on her because I was in a very good mood. I smiled and walked away.
Now that a lot of stories are going about on social media on racism, I would like to ask my readers, what name will you give to my shared stories? Will you call them as racism or not?