Being Black(ish)

There are so many things that separate us as people, just simply as human beings. Even when we share the same skin colour, we always find ways to discriminate and isolate ourselves from one another. This disease spreads even to our homes and families, the one true tie that should be too strong to ever be damaged. I’ve come to the conclusion that humans are immune to vilifying and hurting each other in whichever way they are able to fabricate.

It goes beyond a race, tribalism or even class issue. We are our own worst enemies that continue to allow simple things such as stereotypes and misinformed perceptions to keep us apart. There are many factors that have contributed to the way we are, and I guess one can argue that our problems go way back, that we are just the remnant of the brokenness we possess.

This really wasn’t meant to be a wild rant but a recollection of how I’ve seen unnecessary boundaries built simply to keep me out, even from people I consider to be home.

I speak with an accent that’s always made me feel like a misfit.

It’s shaky and spews broken English most of the time. But the fragments of it that I do possess, have caused enough damage to ostracise and create an outcast out of me.

I know that the accent issue in our country has threatened to cause a great divide between black people. There are those who harbour resentment because it is wrongly associated with superiority. A vast majority of ‘accentors’ have proven to hold the belief that they are smarter and better than those who speak differently to them. The minute I open my mouth and express myself in this language that is not my mother tongue, I understand that it carries a reminder of too many harsh realities for black people. Sometimes it’s not even a language to me, but the only voice I was taught to use when expressing my heart and my mind.

They say I am a ‘Yellow Bone.’

No, this term has nothing to do with the hard whitish tissue that our skeletons are made up off. But it has everything to do with how much melanin my skin is not covered in. I’ve experienced situations where certain human beings have made it their life mission to emphasise that I am in fact not quite beautiful but actually just very light skinned. When I wasn’t being called ‘Orange,’ growing up, I was referred to as ‘Albino.’

But then 2014 happened, suddenly my type of light skinned was being celebrated. The nation had now changed its mind and decided that I was in fact beautiful. I got to observe how two simple words can become so harmful for black women, fostering so much self-hatred and resentment between us.

Again, something as simple as the pigmentation of skin became something that we used against each other, insisting that the one was preferable over the other.

I’m not emotionally attached to my clan name.

The clan name amongst most black people I know is a sense of pride. It is a reference to the root of who they are and all that they want to be known as. The clan name is how black people come together as family, even without DNA results to prove that they share the same bloodline of ancestors.

Ask me what mine is and I’ll respond with a blank stare. I know that my surname is allocated to a clan name called ‘Mamngwevu.’ But don’t ask me ‘ndizi thuthe’ or else you’ll be deeply disappointed in me.

More than anything I hope we are able to come together as a united people and raise children who are empathetic to differences and not so easy to judge and snub each other about silly silly things. I believe we are always capable of doing better and contributing to the greater good of our world.

Photo By: Andile Phewa

10 thoughts on “Being Black(ish)

  1. The clan name. Apparently I cannot share the same clan name as my mom. I should call myself by my father’s clan name. I don’t know where to find him, I don’t even know what his clan is. Family gatherings sometimes are not so friendly. People you regards as family purposely ask you what your clan name is, just to remind you you do not belong here.

    Why can’t we be bound bound by love for one another and respect.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “We are our own worst enemies that continue to allow simple things such as stereotypes and misinformed perceptions to keep us apart.”
    Once again, I must praise your ability to craft that one sentence or expression that encompasses everything you are trying to say.

    I have dealt with the issue you mention in this post. I’m from three different West African countries by birth and parentage and not being accepted in either for various reasons is depressing at times. Wrote about it here

    Like you also, i have hope that things will continue changing for the better and that our kids have it better than we do.

    Liked by 1 person

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