Get ready for a long rant because here I am tackling a tough subject: racism. The Oxford dictionary describes the word as: prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
For people who don’t know me, I was born and raised in a town in Flanders where 99% of the people were white and I’m not. Was it a bad thing living there? Of course not, I love my hometown and have had a pretty good and safe upbringing.
Have I gone through racism or any kind of discrimination? That’s a more difficult question to answer as I haven’t experienced it in its most literal form, meaning I don’t think I’ve encountered someone who just hated me for having another skin colour. I have however, gone through different variations of racism where I frowned, had to think about it and felt despair afterwards.
Here’s an example of what I mean by that: I went shopping with my mom a couple of years ago in my hometown when all of a sudden I heard “ching chang chong”. I turned around and saw a little 4-year old boy of moroccan descent with a big smile on his face. This kid didn’t hate me, he just saw an Asian for the very first time and wanted to acknowledge that fact. Unfortunately, he didn’t know he put a dagger in my heart with those 3 words.
In this case, I was conditioned to be the bigger person cause I could’ve been bigoted and called him a macaque as that’s the equivalent to “ching, chang, chong” to me or as the N-word to black people. I could’ve turned into a racist but I refuse to partake in a hate crime exactly because I know how painful it is. Yes, I was butt hurt however, this child didn’t know any better and I refused to scar a child for the rest of his life and make him hate my people.
I could give so many more examples of situations where I felt that way and I’ve struggled to find my own identity for ages (see my former post). Fortunately, being different was what I was embraced for in Brussels which I’ve been calling home for years now. I actually thought I never wanted to leave until Saturday, November 11th 2017: a riot broke out in Brussels and I had to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
My niece, her boyfriend and I were looking for a parking spot in the center of Brussels when all of a sudden we were surrounded by a whole bunch of teenagers of Moroccan descent “celebrating” Morocco’s qualification for the World Cup. Nobody let us pass so we honked and that’s when the window where I was seated got smashed. One of those guys tried to steal my bag while I was still covered with glass in the back seat but his attempts thankfully failed. We then proceeded to drive back home and had shots of whiskey cause that’s what I needed once I realized that we were safe at home and not hurt in some hospital.
In this situation, racism wasn’t the trigger: these kids used a happy event as an excuse for doing unacceptable things. Not that this excuses what they’ve done but the reality is that if they were white, it would’ve been seen as pure reckless behavior. The consequence as coloured kids is that they gave people another “cliché” excuse to turn to hatred towards their own community.
In a fair world, everybody should be equal and there shouldn’t be privilege for anyone. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world yet but we should strive for it. So to those kids who fucked me up pretty bad, let me emphasize again: NOTHING excuses the damage you’ve caused as I have to deal with panic attacks now. I know it sucks that we always have to be picture perfect as kids/grandkids of immigrants to prove our love to the country we were born in but I just hope it won’t escalate to severe police brutality against you like the one in the US against African-Americans.
I’m not here to cure racism either because if I had the antidote, I’d make it my life mission to travel the world to heal everyone from this disease. But here’s the deal, I haven’t had a good night sleep for 2 weeks now and I still manage to not hate you for it. So is it too much for me to expect of you to know and do better so your generation gets to be more evolved than mine and so that the next generation can look forward to a better future?