In an earlier post Dear David, enough of the self-hate, I spoke about a self-hating male I met on a night out, who openly told me why he doesn’t date black girls, but was willing to make an exception for me! (Wow…. ridiculous I know).
In this post, I’m going to take another trip down memory lane like I did last week in the post Dear Mr.L, I see right through your micro-aggression and speak about a self-hating black female I met at school.
So once upon a time there was a girl called Shanice. Lola was the only black girl in her year and Shanice was the only black girl in the year above her. In Lola’s mind there was no issue between her and Shanice, but she was mistaken.
On one occasion when Lola was shopping with her friends at a store after school, a group of shop assistants were watching her. I openly asked them what they were doing. The ladies responded with ‘Sorry, are you Shanice, she’s been coming into this store to shoplift.’ I couldn’t believe this and responded ‘my name is Lola Idris thank you very much , not Shanice and if Shanice is shoplifting, you need to focus on her, not me’. The ladies apologised profusely for making a ‘mistake’ and for thinking I was Shanice. I brushed off the ignorance, but it bothered me that because there were so few black people in the small dreary town of Sandy, I was being mistaken for a shoplifter when I’d never stolen in my life. I considered speaking to Shanice about the incident but quickly decided against it, from the rumours I’d heard not only was Shanice shoplifting, but she had a reputation for truancy and fighting. Trouble was the last thing I needed, so I didn’t say anything to her.
Fast forward to a while later, I’m 14 years old and in year 9. During a break time I was told there were rumours that Shanice had a problem with me and wanted to beat me up. I was taken aback by this, what problem could Shanice have with me? I’d never had a conversation with her or about her. I decided to not rise to the rumours, because as far as I knew there was nothing Shanice could have against me, little did I know then that Shanice’s real problem with me hit very close to home.
On the same day I was told that Shanice wanted to beat me up, I was walking to the bus to get home. Suddenly, Shanice came up to me out of nowhere and stood in front of me with her arms folded. A group was forming around us and I felt confused. Shanice opened up with something along the lines of ‘I’ve been looking for you’. In my head, I thought well if you weren’t truanting from school, you’d easily find me as I’m at school Monday-Friday. I told her that I’d heard she had an issue with me and wanted to know why. She said that ‘I better stop bullying Jodie Arnold or else she’d beat me up’. I literally had no clue what she was talking about. Jodie Arnold was another girl in my year that I’d never spoken to in my life and if she thought I was bullying her, why was Shanice being her bodyguard? I said to her ‘I’ve never spoken to Jodie Arnold and have no issue with her, I’m not sure what you’ve heard but I’m not bullying her’. She insisted I was bullying her and I responded with ‘how would you even know since you’re never at school and where are you getting this information from?’ She started screaming and swearing with threats about what she’d do to me. The crowd around us was getting larger and inside I was scared (this girl was one year older than me, which in school years is a lot and had quite a reputation), but on the outside I simply responded with ‘If you’re going to beat me up, then just go ahead and do it then?’. She didn’t lay a finger on me but promised she’d ‘get me’ and I turned around and got on the bus feeling confused and angry.
I remember speaking to my sisters and a couple of friends after and wondering why she was going out of her way to make an issue where there wasn’t one, the penny hadn’t quite dropped yet. The next day at school I approached Jodie Arnold and asked her if she was telling Shanice I was bullying her. Jodie was just as confused as I was and said she’d never told Shanice that and she didn’t know where she would get that from. After hearing that, I started to put the pieces together. Shanice didn’t have anything tangible for her to make an issue out of, so she’d fabricated a bullying accusation to use as a reason to start an issue with me. Shanice hated herself and seeing another black girl was something she didn’t like. Perhaps her issue was to try to show she was the ‘toughest’ black girl or she wanted to try to get me to stoop to her level. Perhaps she didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t known for truanting and fighting and had a clean record. Whatever her issue was, it stemmed from an insecurity within her. Rather than acknowledging there being another black girl to relate to in an environment where there was so few of us, she wanted to create a divide between us.
Funnily enough that was the last I saw of Shanice. For at least two weeks after the incident I was on edge and expected her to appear out of nowhere. However, I eventually heard a rumour that she’d either been expelled for the truanting or had moved to another area so wouldn’t be back at school. Whatever the reason was, I was relieved to know she wouldn’t be back and definitely wasn’t going to miss her.
Back then I thought she was very problematic, but now I feel quite sorry for her. I can’t imagine hating another black girl for no reason, particulary in an area where there’s so few of us. However if you’re questioning your position and worth as a black girl in a white dominated area and see another black girl (minding her business) as a threat to you, your self-hate must be at rock bottom. Perhaps seeing my hair, my skin and my features were a reminder to Shanice of what she was and didn’t want to be. We were young back then, I was 14 and she was 15, so I hope that Shanice’s self-hate has been addressed. With black people like her around, it’s a serious reminder that we should be tackling issues of racism, discrimination and prejudice from within our own community, rather than focusing on outside of our community alone.