About race, gender, and our first steps into the world free of prejudice.
Michael Jackson had this beautiful song that comes to my mind whenever skin related issues are on the table. It don’t matter if you are Black or White. And I must say it is a brilliant idea, though unfortunately it isn’t that simple (and I am not talking only about whitening of Jackson’s skin color through the years). During our growing up process, we were broken by prejudice and stereotypes. We were broken, but somehow on the way we managed to get more civilized and give it a break, and even make our piece with Obama becoming a president. Till now.…
With the growing nationalism and white supremacy philosophy coming back to fashion, I’ve already had my hard times falling asleep. But I still had hope. And then BUM!!! Facebook (damn, I hate it for even letting stuff like this be published): a profile of actually quite a great guy whom we met during our travels – lots of great ideas and dreams to come true – and there, a picture he shares. It is a collage of two pictures actually and a nasty comment; one picture is of monkeys allover a car somewhere in India and the other picture: dark skinned guys trying to destroy a car (I don’t remember where, Paris maybe). And here comes the comment: “Can you find the difference? Me not.” I felt noxious, literally noxious.
How was it even possible that someone traveling a lot and having frequent contact with other cultures can do this???? How is it possible that whenever a white European woman is raped by a Muslim, Polish nationalists-racists are going crazy; still ignoring the amount of rapes and sexual abuse in Poland. So what, being raped by a white Catholic guy is better than being raped by any other nation or religion member? Do you think that a raped woman has preferences about the rapist? Rape is a rape, crime is a crime. You commit a rape you are a rapist; you commit a crime you are a criminal. And neither your skin color or religious believes can change it.
Everyone has a name
There is this character known by majority of Polish kids – Murzynek Bambo. Bambo is an African boy going to school, playing, and sometimes a scamp. If the poet would resign from the phrase, where Bambo doesn’t want to bath as he is scared he will become whiter, there would be not much in the poem to complain about. However, one day…
We were going through Zosia’s Kids World Atlas and on one page there was a picture of a black boy. And that was when I heard it: Mum, look it’s Bambo. My daughter wasn’t mean, she actually was happy to see “Bambo” in another book, but there was something horrible wrong about it. It was the first step to start categorizing people according to stereotypes. I took a deep breath, I couldn’t pretend nothing happened. I mean, I could: she is still small … she doesn’t play on a daily basis with any African kids as they don’t live close to us … Bambo is actually a cute name …. let’s not make a big deal. BUT…. If all small dark skin boys will be Bambo, then some day all black or Muslim men could become criminals and terrorists, etc. ….
So, I didn’t ignore it. It was time for big weapons, I mean huge weapons: picking up all the old African American Barbies (even my husband is not allowed to touch them 😉 ). I picked them and went to my daughter’s room:
– Sweaty, not all black boys are called Bambo. There are many white girls you meet in a playground. Are they all called Zosia?
– Of course not, because all of us have different names. You see those dolls. They have dark skin but they all have different names. This is Naomi and this ….
I know that it is just a small step and that in a world full with prejudice it seems even smaller. But if every time we would stop ourselves from discriminating categorization, a criminal would just be a criminal, “a boy in a wheelchair” would be simply Ben or a boy in a green sweater and “a black girl” – a girl with a cool bike.Feel free to share: