Will you call it racism?

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?

9 thoughts on “Will you call it racism?

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful post! I completely agree that racism or anything race-related is difficult to talk about, however Jesus didn’t change the world by taking the easy road either. He died on the cross for ALL his people and look at what we are doing today. I sincerely believe that the only way we can solve the generational pain that has been caused by ancient decisions is by being open to speaking about these topics. It might not be easy but by trein to understand and see each other’s perspectives we can at least try. Pain doesn’t have to be eternal. Keep speaking up and share your experiences! Just like we teach children right from wrong as adults we should still be able to do so. 🙂

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  2. I wouldn’t call it racism. In my personal understanding, racism is the matter of a person or a group of people feeling superior to another person or group of people, based on nothing else than racial attributes such as skin colour or hair texture or body shape and so on.

    The experiences you shared, to me, sound more like the people you met made some hurtful assumptions based on maybe a form of inferiority complex. Here in the Netherlands Immigrants or People of Colour (POC) do not often take high positions in companies. If they do, it tends to be in their own business or a family/friend business. With that being said they made the hurtful assumption based on what they are most used to, which is seeing people of their own skin colour working at cleaning companies.

    It does not make the comments less hurtful but the intention behind it was not racially charged. I would say it was charged with either inferiority or ignorance. Keep your head up sis!

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  3. Wooow this is an interesting piece. If all the people you encountered were white, people will be quick to call their actions as being racist. I have also been thinking about this “Black lives matters” going on in the world now and one thing that comes in mind is tribalism. I hope you publish something in that regards soon.
    Well done sis. More grace💪💪

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  4. I get what you’re describing, sis… But I don’t agree with the statement, “…racism is overrated…”. Because it’s quite prominent and needs to be undone.
    What you are describing however sounds to me like racial profiling. (That’s my perception) And yes, it can come from people of our own origin. It’s important to remember that discrimination or segregation can be on different levels and layers, like tribalism, poor-rich members of society, physical imperfections… So I think it’s possible that a person of your own race can profile you and it’s mostly due to projection and/or how limited or exposed their own perception is.

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  5. I would like to touch on the issue of racism has been with us from cradle to grave .To add to this in every sphere of life we experience it when it comes to colour .In human race some Europeans and Americans believe they are superior than Africans.I met one fine Gentle man called Pieter who is a Dutch and has respect for humanity.What happened in American there might be similar incidents which have not come to our attention.Finally I would like to say we must treat each other equally and maintain good relationships.

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