My parents came to Australia with four suitcases, three kids, and dreams of giving us a better life.
As a product of this migration I can easily say that we got the best of the best when it came to education and opportunities – all because my parents sacrificed a lot and worked hard. Now, as a parent, I am in awe – what they did was the definition of selflessness.
Generally speaking, I had very few reminders that I was different – different meaning that I am black and of African decent. However, every now and again I was reminded of my difference and each time it left a bad taste in my mouth. So, at a young age I developed the ability to a identify racism, even the subtle type. As an adult I can say that it has advanced to being almost at super power level – the X- Men kind.
So, what is it like being a black woman in Australia you ask? Well, I can sum it up in two words – Bitter Sweet.
Overall, people are welcoming and embracing of the diversity that I represent in my brown leather. However, I would also say that for every positive experience as an African Australian woman I equally experience subtle discrimination based on my skin colour, on a weekly basis. People fear me based on my appearance alone. For example, they might fear that I may be aggressive without provocation, illiterate, and the one I love most – not able to speak English. No matter how much I dress up, how much expensive perfume I spray, the degrees I acquire, the work experience I have and the love of life I demonstrate – I still have the ability to make some people very uncomfortable.
If I had my radar on, I would probably identify subtle racism on a daily basis. Whether it’s shopping at the supermarket, putting fuel in my car, in my work environment, ordering coffee, walking into an expensive department store, driving my car – the possibilities are endless. If I became ultra sensitive I would literally never leave the house. My coping mechanism is to remain unbothered by the comments, actions and hate – just brush that dirt off my shoulders.
I could document all the experiences I have had – but it’s a waste of my time and my energy. Plus, I really don’t want to relive it either.
Racism still exists. Point blank period.
I know there’s probably a cohort of people who are rolling their eyes to the back of their head as they read this – so let me address you. To be clear, I am not wanting your agreement. I am not even looking for an argument. I am simply sharing my experience living in Australia as a black woman. If you are not a black woman – you need not comment, as you just don’t know.
In all honesty, I can deal with being a black woman in Australia. I have been dealing with it since my parents left the shores of Africa. In fact, I forget that I am a black woman, but every now and again I get a stark reminder. It hurts, and at times in the privacy of my home I have even shed a tear. I have to let the emotion out so that I can regroup and go about my business.
To say it’s frustrating is an understatement – I just can’t help but ask – Still? Still people of colour have to feel like this? My grand parents probably experienced the most blatant forms of racism. My parents – they have been through it, my generation is still experiencing it, and more than likely with the way the world is today – the baton will be passed on to our children and our children’s’ children. Why? Where are people learning this? Why is it acceptable? What causes people to form those beliefs? How can we over come it?
As long as one race feels superior to another race, racism will continue to thrive.
Given my own personal experiences I have never been one to judge someone based on their outward appearance (skin colour, age, dress etc). I judge people based on how they treat me and how they make me feel after an interaction with them.
I leave this blog post with a quote from an inspiring woman (you might know her) who was once the First Lady of United States of America – Michelle Obama, ‘when they go low, we go high”