Tag Archives: race

Fear? Oh!

As a male who is happy to adapt to any city, I’m generally comfortable wherever. I’ve been to London enough times to know you have to be savvy with the way you carry things due to the sheer number of people around you at any one time. I’m privileged as a male to (rightly or wrongly) believe, that I am at a lower risk of crime against me than a female may be.

However, after my colleague’s purse was taken on the first day of our company induction in London, my awareness of my safety was heightened. I found myself holding my bag tighter, I didn’t want any bulges that told you where things were on me. I was wary of anyone in sports or casual clothing that wasn’t in line with particular looks. Wary of being in confined spaces (lifts, tube etc) with them

At the top of my suspicion list were people that looked like me, followed by other ethnicities, those who spoke English and those that didn’t. At the bottom of the list lay predominantly white professionals.

As I returned from dinner during the middle of the week it dawned on me that, I was possibly projecting. Projecting fears that never manifested themselves. Those people didn’t (and still don’t) need my stereotyping, they don’t deserve to be looked at as potential thieves or muggers who might injure me for saying no their intentions.

I recognise that I was once a young black male who was seeking to avoid being seen that way. The overall majority of people are law-abiding folk looking to get from A to B. Who am I to think the way I did? I questioned my automatic suspicion of black males as being the perpetrators. Why didn’t I think that it was simply an opportunist? Why did I think that they, along with non-English speakers to be the biggest threat to my safety?

In truth, humans will do terrible things by choice or by accident at any given point. Not everyone can afford to hire security to protect them from what may never happen. We can only take a limited number of actions to protect ourselves. Beyond that, we are at risk of damaging our own mental health by living in fear. Fear that causes anxiety by magnifying the smallest possibility of negativity. Fears that lead to words and actions that could cause harm to those we are fearful of.

Pre-emptive strikes against someone who has no intention to hurt you is your problem, not theirs.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Just Living

Man Up! How?

I’ve spent the weekend in the presence of up to 30 men. An environment where masculinity and mental health within men were explored with a view to an eventual performance. It gave scope for bonding, conversing, unlocking doors to experiences that have brought joy, pain and indifference. It allowed creatives to create and every voice to be heard.

At the end of the first day, my niggling thought was, can I separate masculinity from race? I ignored the thought because I didn’t have a place in this sphere.  At the end of the second day, it returned. The truth is I don’t know if I can make a definitive separation.

Whereas some groups have to an extent, found a voice to articulate their struggles and versions of their humanity, I cannot say that my voice has the capacity to capture hearts in the same way. Some go as far as labelling other groups as “the new black” as they draw parallels with being a minority group, and discriminatory attitudes towards them. This is not to say that I am jealous of the shift towards social acceptance, or seek to dismiss their voices. Rather, being within earshot of this has been a trigger, a point of reference from which I begin another journey of understanding.

When I entered the room ahead of the session, I entered as a creative. I entered simply seeking inspiration and hoping that I might write something I could show off. That was the way I would get by.

My masculinity has been heavily influenced by cultural expectations, traditions and race-based perceptions. They have been compounded by faith based interpretations of manhood.  I don’t get to see myself as just a man. I am black man and whisper it….I’m a Christian. To the world around me, to the world inside of me.

I am not socially acceptable in my real form in as many spaces as others are afforded.

In seeking to stay on topic I kept my mention of race down to one conversation to provide context for my story. I didn’t want to as people say….play the race card. Was this men’s space a white space?

In the black community, we are pretty expressive, yet Mental Health is something we collectively seem to be quieter on. My mother was a mental health nurse so she was and still is aware of the signs when particularly I have encountered struggles with mine. In wanting the best, tough love was a method of dealing with it. Yet even in that I was never just a man. Always a black man.

“You are a black man…..you cannot afford to let yourself slip. You cannot afford to….”

I have always had to be aware of how I speak, how I act so that someone else feels better about themselves. At times it feels like as a black man, I don’t really get to have a safe space because I am going to be a threat to someone. I am going to be lumped with some part of society. I am part of something that will be invaded by well-meaning trend seekers who will sell a version of me back to me as though they were Christopher Columbus.

If I show I’m intelligent, I’m a threat so I’m getting passed on for promotions and meaningful career development activity.  If I wear certain clothes, I’m a threat. If I show that I’m angry I’m a threat. Then there’s the projections of promiscuity and prowess. I self-edit constantly to ensure that everyone feels comfortable.

Should I seek black spaces?

Again….do I get to have shared experiences? After all I am male, I was once a child that has become a man.

However, as a child in primary school, my white headmistress sent for me during lunch time. She told me that a black kid has to work 100 times harder than a white kid. I wasn’t given any reasons as to why she chose that moment to give me “the fact of life” that many black kids have drummed into them from birth. Yet, it eroded my self-confidence as a child.

Through the years, versions of this were re-iterated in order to keep me on the straight and narrow. I was even told that if I was a white guy, I’d be ten-a-penny. That I should be fortunate that black people are a minority, as it’s the only way I would stand out.

Shared experiences where being black doesn’t have a say in proceedings seem few and far between. Celebrity deaths get more reaction than folks arrested for waiting at Starbucks. Maybe that’s a different issue. Somehow, somewhere, between principles and expectations, nature and preference, I exist

Leave a comment

Filed under Just Living, Non Poetic Blogs

Frankfurt 3: Pardon your Ignorance

 

I’d visited Frankfurt to meet up with a poet I have only known through social media, yet has been like a brother for several years.  This was the 3rd and final poem from my writing session.

20170331_184104

Eyes of giants are wandering.

Aviators reflecting on the ground.

Beauty seems skin tight,

Fashionistas mix colours yet can’t do it with skin type

Flowing locks and optics box tick.

I just can’t with the lens being pedalled.

A fresh breeze invades the mood.

To settle the stomach, I engage with windbreakers and stone masons.

I was a fool for lane love ignoring the  map.

The cupboard love from Venus is the most fly of traps.

It’s time to switch the raps, worship and praise at new altars.

Maybe you will…..for the sake of our true calling.

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Poetics

9 / 30 Round & Round

I was born with the race card
According to some inhumans

Black power was never skin colour
Sus laws and Edgar Hoovers
Set the tone for my mother’s mother
My father’s father took the bruises

I was born to a game of measures
I suppose my first words were excuses
The race card I never signed, played for me.
You expect me to thank you?

Doesn’t the devil exist?
Black and white stripes aren’t even half the pack of this race card mess.

Is it really a Race Card?
Or is it a gag, a muffler.
Is the code for silence, when it impinges on comfort?

I was told at aged 7 by a white headmistress,
“Just to be average, you blacks have to work twice as hard”
Damn, I just got stamped and handed my race card!
I should build up some credit.
You’ll only teach the 5% of my history that implies to you I’m indebted.
Then I’ll spend the rest of my life fact checking.

There’s just something about the way they use it to abuse you
Like it’s your first and only line of defence.
Before they learn the N word it’s, Miss…he’s playing the race card again!

Micro chipped, programme to speak on it every other day of the week.
Is the race card simply a construct where the foundations are too deep.

Was I really born with it in my system or was it the system’s cordial
Something they can keep drinking to make me look primordial.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 30 day challenge, Race

1/ 30″Ugh”

Denying you stole the keys, you found the lock and jammed it

Took over rock and called it bandwidth

We strum to a new Anansi

Our hands where your eyes can see

Shot at when we pander

Some are quick to shout peace God!

Yet when you prey, nobody has the answers.

Increase your debt when you contact us.

Yet claim bonuses for being contact less.

Pocket pastors with presents

Offering plates hasn’t passed us.

Leave a comment

Filed under Race, Random Poetics