The politics of my skin

( I have been trying to upload the last batch of pictures of our road trip but our internet has been SO slow! I spent 3 hours last night trying to upload one picture to no avail! I have decided to post this entry thats been  in my draft for awhile instead and hopefully the next post will be about the road trip) 
A couple of years ago whilst living in South Africa, my friends and I went on a roadtrip, at one of our stops we spent four days with one of my friends’ friends. Trouble began for me when upon our arrival, the host and his wife refused entirely to acknowledge my presence as they gave warm greetings to everyone else ( I was the only black) I immediately realised this particular visit was going to be rather challenging, what to do? To be honest friend, I was very angry at first, looking back I think my anger was covering up how hurt I felt. I mulled over what to do for the next 3 days as their behavior did not change until I came up with a solution. I decided even if it kills me, I would make friends with the couple, I chose to find out what the husband loved to do and we ended up having a lively conversation about hunting in South Africa. At first it was very difficult but somehow I found the grace. Long story short, by the end of the evening the couple that had completely ignored me for 3 days were happily chatting and laughing with me. I learned something important that day, sometimes racial politics stem from the simple fact that one or both camps have incredibly biased and stupid assumptions about the other, take that away and you get people who would never get along becoming great friends.
my mom and my cousins daughter.
my mom and my cousins daughter.
 Until the age of 10 I lived in blissful ignorance of the fact that racial tensions between blacks and whites existed. It was when we traveled to South Africa for the first time in 1994 that it finally dawned on me that some people are very passionate about keeping racial inequality. My brother tells me that it was around that time that he asked me “whats a racist?” and I replied ” It’s when some white people don’t like us touching them.” 🙂 Since then, my family and I have experienced and observed different types of racial politics, some very subtle others straight in your face. For example one American missionary once told me that black people s brains are inferior to white people s brains because of the manner our mothers carry us as babies. What to do in such situations? One must have the wisdom to know which battles to pick, sometimes I speak out other times I choose silence. From personal observation some misconceptions are so deep seated there is no use trying to change a persons minds.
The way I see it, as long as I enjoy cross-cultural interactions I am bound to deal with people with a superioty complex. Over the years I have taught myself not to allow the root of bitterness to grow in my heart, to try not to take it personally and to remember if I treat them the way they treat me, there will be no difference between us. Has it got easier? NO! But I will never give up least I start practising reverse racism… why cant we all just get along 🙂 I dont have all the answers on how to deal with the sometimes complex nature of inter racial interactions, I just know its important to be willing to talk about such issues frankly and humbly.
by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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