I Am Not A Colour

By guest blogger, Sabine Bond

I have lived mostly in two big seaport cities, with inhabitants from various walks of life.  The port cities – Hamburg and Lagos – welcome many from all over the world which gives them that cosmopolitan atmosphere.  You would think that with the influx of humans with so much diversity, all looking for that elusive golden fleece, you wouldn’t really hear silly comments bordering on race, skin colour and so on.  I must have been wrong.

I remember a nursery rhyme in German that I had to sing at age 4 or 5.  It was about black people.  I can’t remember the entire song but the refrain went like this – Schwarze Negger igit igit igit.  Translated it means “black niggers are dirty”.  The word “igit” is a word that can roughly be translated as dirty and it shows a sense of disgust by the person pronouncing it.  As I was the only ‘black’ person in the midst of the white children, I stopped singing the song.  Soon after we were asked what our favourite colours were and every child named one colour or the other.  Mind you, mine had always been blue.  That day I said it was black, the children and our racist teacher gave me a surprised look while I simply stared back at them.  A seed of rebellion against this kind of blatant discrimination was planted inside me.  I didn’t really have the words for it at that tender age but at least I had enough sense and boldness to stop singing that silly song and to stand up for being ‘black’ and proud, even though I was quite young. ‎

Since‎ then, I have heard it all – negger, white, yellow, mulatto, half-caste (even half cad), mixed blood, mixed breed, China, Korea, India, Fulani, mbakara, oyibo, bekee, etc.  I will not even bother to list some more degrading names that I’ve been called on account of my complexion.  Oh by the way, I heard a 32-year-old man call himself an outcaste while trying to describe his looks because his mother comes from Chad!  The radio host repeated the word just to be sure.  She should have corrected him; unfortunately, she didn’t.

I’ve heard some rude people discuss my colour to my hearing without a care.  Some people would even insist that I should be happy that they called me ‘white or oyibo’.  When some ask, I may politely answer where I come from.  For others I just give them a disgusted look because I don’t go about asking why they look a certain way.  I don’t have to know where everyones’ parents come from, so why must I explain my ancestry to each person who asks?  I sometimes wonder if they see me and see my essence.  I am a person not a colour.

‎Hence my outburst – for goodness sake I am not a colour!!!  Michael Jackson once sang, “It don’t matter if you’re black or white”.  I agree.  I’m not white and I’m also not black.  It’s not because I don’t think black is great or that white is supreme, it’s just that I don’t see the need to fit into either category.  I’m just a different shade of brown, actually we all are.  No one is actually white (they just have less melanin to produce that brown colouring) and no one is actually black (it’s more like dark brown).  These days it’s politer to compare skin tones to the various shades of coffee or chocolate, sounds delicious too as I love both.  So maybe I would be considered a café latte.

I hope that this doesn’t ‎sound like I don’t identify with being ‘black’, because I am very proud of my African heritage.  The point I’m trying to get across here is that we should go beyond colour/skin tones and get to really know people instead.

I am not a mixed breed, mixed blood, half cad or half-caste; in short I’m neither mixed up nor half anything.  Each time I hear these terms, I feel like they are discussing dog breeds.  I’m not a mongrel or something monstrous, something alien or some exotic imported animal.  Please let me simply BE.

 

 If you’re ever interested in guest blogging, do let me know by sending an email to rationalnigerian@hotmail.com

 

Image|Source: Javcon117*, Flickr

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Sexism: Men are Victims Too

By guest blogger,  Arinze Ude. 

Feminism is a delicate topic in Nigeria.  The movement has been bastardized and one is yet to fully grasp the agenda of Nigerian feminists.

There appears to be a conflict of interest in defining the essence of their feminist movement.  It could be that many of them are either confused or ignorant of the core values of the feminism ideology.  As stated in Unlearning Sexism, ignorance is a silent, parasitic affliction that twists and bends the lenses of one’s eyes to produce a distorted view of reality.

Today, they are pushing for gender equality; for men and women to be recognized as equal. Tomorrow, they are advocating for gender favouritism; fighting for causes that favour only women – a battle of sexes per se.

For instance, there’s always a special prize for the last woman standing at TV shows like the Gulder Ultimate Search and I have never seen any feminist stand up in its disapproval.  This makes me wonder if we inadvertently propagate gender inequality and sexism.

To be fair, sexism is not anyone’s fault.  It has become imbibed in our society.  As a result, both men and women, directly or indirectly, make sexist comments on a daily basis.

Nice guys are often ridiculed by both men and women for their niceness and lack of masculine energy to take the bull by the horn.  ‘He is not man enough’ is often the derogatory comment used to describe these guys.  And that is also sexism.

Recently, I read an article about an emotional man who often sheds tears for women whenever he is heartbroken.  As expected, the comment section was rife with sexist remarks.  Both men and women were quick to judge the man and say things like:

“How can a man be heartbroken?”

“Do you listen to RnB songs? Gangstas don’t play that shit. They listen to rap.”

“Real men aren’t emotional.”

“Only weak men cry over a lady.”

I had to ask, why can’t a man be emotional and cry over a woman?  Is there any law out there that forbids anyone with the male genitalia from crying?  I mean, if it is therapeutic for him, he should go ahead and do the needful – there’s no shame in that.

According to Wikipedia, sexism can affect any gender but it is particularly documented as affecting only women and girls.  And this is evident in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to rescue the 219 Chibok girls that were abducted by Boko Haram.  There’s no mention of the young boys that are also victims of such abduction or sex trafficking.

Women, not only men, perpetrate domestic and intimate partner violence, falsely accuse men of rape and other devious acts, molest/sexually harass young boys, and commit paternity fraud.  Even cancers affecting women get more attention than those affecting men.

Despite all these risks men face, support services for men are almost non-existent compared to services for women.  There are also ministries for women affairs – but none for men – in the UN and virtually all Nigerian Governments, at Federal and State Level.

As I mentioned, our society upholds sexist attitudes, directly or indirectly, through the media, culture and/or education.  Despite the patriarchal nature of our society, every child, whether male or female, is instilled with a woman’s point of view.  The boys are taught to protect and give the ladies special treatment as the head of the family whilst the girls, in total submission to men, are taught to expect preferential treatment from men.

Arinze Ude is an aspiring cancer researcher with a Master’s degree in Biomedical Science from the University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol.  He has a flair for writing and shares some of his random thoughts on his blog: http://arturozinga.com