For as long as I can remember, getting my hair done has been a big part of my life routine. In primary school, I’d get my cornrows taken out and redone on a weekly basis by my fabulous mama. As I got older, I got braids and in secondary school I upgraded to weaves, pick and drop and for a period of time I just straightened my then relaxed hair on a daily basis… without heat protector :S. The thought of doing this now makes me cringe but you live and you learn, right?
Not sure how it was in your household growing up, but in mine and many other Caribbean homes, Saturday mornings were dedicated to household chores. Maybe my mother possessed ‘the rod of correction’, and she had those steely eyes that shot daggers, but I knew I had to get up and get cleaning like it was the week before Christmas. Truth be told, I did not inherit my mother’s skills, because I can’t seem to get my teenage son out of bed, much less vacuum the lounge. Let’s not speak about his bedroom (not sure what animal died in there). Is the new-age parenting style failing our future generation? What made my mother’s eye glance so compelling, that it affects me even today as a ‘grown-ass’ woman?
The narrative of reparations has been revisited within recent times. In fact, it is part of the Senator Booker’s (US) manifesto, in his bid for the Democratic Presidential Candidate. I caught his interview on @blackcoffee recently. One of the key questions raised was: would reparations raise the economic status of black people? Generally, Booker’s response was vague, to say the least. Theoretically, he explained that reparations are a repayment of debt owed, not a cure for the disease (confused emoji here).
For those who may be ignorant of what reparations are, I will give a brief insight. Reparations represent compensation for being trafficked and enslaved in the Atlantic Slave Trade. It would be restitution paid to the descendants of slaves for slavery and the decades of lawful discrimination that followed it. From a moral perspective, this is a wonderful idea. However, from an economic perspective the logistics are questionably flawed. Not to get too political or to take sides, I would like to delve into the practicality (if any) of this phenomenon. A pertinent question: how would the beneficiaries be selected? A question raised by another Senator (Mitchell McConnell). If you know your history well, there were also free black people during the time of slavery. Should their descendants benefit from reparations?
Another key concern is how do we calculate how much is owed. Transitional justice, I agree is necessary and is due, but what is the monetary value of it. I don’t know where exactly my ancestors originated, nor do I know to whom they were sold or for how much; how many owners (masters) they had; if they escaped and to where. The research for reparations would be extensive and costly. If this Bill is actually passed (which I doubt), what would become of the US economy? The estimated figure for the US alone was half a trillion dollars! With the current African American population around 38 million people, this will equate to $13,157.89 per person! This nominal figure brings me back to my original question, how would this raise the status of black people? Agreeably, this may be more money than one had the day before, but this money really cannot provide you with true wealth or power, nor would it erase the issue of driving while black or the many other prejudices dealt to the black population. Rich black people are also stopped and searched by eager white police officers.
My understanding is that reparations should give black people an equal playing field to the majority, but that shift is deep-seated and much more cultural than it is financial. First and foremost, we are judged by how we look, and these preconceived biases keep us at a disadvantage, more than the money in the bank. Justice is due and it is due now, not in incremental improvements, but across the board – the way we are addressed, where we are housed, the education system, the legal system, even the hiring system. No amount of guilt money paid for the ills of slavery will ever compensate for the continued discrimination, nor would it stop the prejudice, if there isn’t a social movement for change.
On 03.05.19, we held our second ever discussion where we spoke about whether, as black Brits we owe anything to the Motherland. After much anticipation, we’ve finally uploaded the full video to our YouTube channel, check it out below:
Like what you see? Register for our next discussion in November here –> https://bit.ly/2FGTYjD
Why not check out our first ever discussion here
How important is representation in relationships? Is there a need to see stronger, committed black couples celebrated? A friend of mine believes that dating outside of the race is a betrayal to the entire black community. She is adamant that she must find a good, black man to marry and produce beautiful black babies. In this era of “wokeness”, the rhetoric is black consciousness and embracing all that is innately beautiful about being black. So, in step with that, I believe her quest is primarily driven by the need to conform to societal pressure rather than her genuine desire to be with a black man.
Ideally, love should see no colour, race, ethnicity, or even gender. The heart wants what the heart wants, well so we have been told. If your heart wants a white man or woman, who am I to judge? Should I feel slighted or offended by your choice? I think not! The whole purpose of civil rights and human rights was for equity and access; to give the freedom to choose. And with that freedom, to live with the consequences of your choice. Black love undoubtedly has its own issues and challenges, especially in a society where it is rarely applauded. However, is it really a betrayal if I love outside of my race? Why do we feel so offended by interracial relationships? Is it a reflection of our own insecurities manifesting in the bitterness towards interracial couples? And why is this anger mainly directed to black men and white women? (Another discussion for another post).
There is a stark difference between what we perceive and the reality of the situation. And although in this generation there is a universal acceptance of mixed-race relationships, there are still murmurs and latent discontent in the inner layers of the races. Interracial marriages are not as commonplace as we might believe. According to the British census conducted recently, only one in 10 cohabiting couples in England and Wales involve two people of different ethnicities. While this was over 30 per cent increase from the last census in 2001, it still only represents a small percentage of the population. A similar statistic exists in the US, where one in 10 marriages are between two people of different races or ethnicities. Clearly, there are still many people who think like my friend, who may never date outside of her race.
I want us to celebrate love; in whichever form, it is displayed. Some would argue that black people are too tolerant and compliant, thus allowing interracial marriages to be prevalent. I beg to differ. Many of us would not even look in the direction of a non-black, much less consider going on a date with them. A couple friends of mine claim that they “just feel a connection to black men/women”. When swiping through dating apps, we tend only to like the black faces, regardless of whether they are a match or not. Is it instinct, or is it discrimination? Doesn’t this type of behaviour fringe around prejudice or bias? We have been pleading for equality and inclusion, yet we are discriminating against “the others” (non-blacks). Hence, limiting our potential dating pool.
With that said, I am also a victim and a perpetrator of this behaviour. I must consciously decide to swipe right when I see a white face. I must talk myself into it, but I want to change that. I am disappointed with the selection of black men – all the good ones are either married, in jail, or not interested. So, if I am to be married with kids in the next five years, I need to open my dating pool. My selection process needs to be as diverse and inclusive as the hiring process that we have been fighting for.