Racism is an incurable disease. That is what I have come to learn in my 22 years on planet Earth.
Actually scrap that. I knew nothing about this disease until about 12 years ago when I left Nigeria and came “abroad”. It has been a pleasant experience too as I already wrote about in one of my previous posts, Heart Grows Fonder, but sooner, rather than later, the “Question of Race” started come into play.
It first happened when I was in primary school, within the first few months of my education here and one of the teachers questioned me, “you don’t mind if I call you black do you?” I heard my classmates gasp, as though what she had said was something bad, but I did not know what it was back then.
Racism was not a thing to me. Growing up in Nigeria, people were simply people to me. Of course I was aware of the differences in physical appearance. I knew that my favourite James Bond at the time, Pierce Brosnan, coincidentally Irish, looked different to me.
And that Jackie Chan, whose movies I adored, came from a different part of the world to me. But this fact never played on my judgement of them. Maybe it was because I was younger, but the question of race was never raised during my childhood. I never once thought that I was inferior because of the way I looked nor that they were superior because their nose was straighter or their skin lighter.
I remember pondering and nodding to her at the same time, wondering what it meant to be black because before that day, I had never considered myself as such. To me, I was simply Nigerian, African and that was that.
As time went on, I accepted the term, as I started to realise that there was them and there was us. There was an unspoken division that I saw everyday in little acts. Unspoken because no one was as willing to blurt it out like my teacher had done all those years ago.
My experience with outright racism is somewhat minimal. One time, standing outside my school, about 12 years of age and this man walked past me, a grown ass man, and whispered “Go back to your Country, you freaking Monkey!” stands out to me.
That was the first time that someone called me that and I was confused. Neither did I look nor act like a monkey and for him to call me that, whilst I was simply minding my own business, was even more confusing.
Despite the number of years that I have lived abroad, it remains the number one incident that comes to mind whenever I am questioned about my experience with racism. Perhaps it is due to the fact that it was my first, outright, aggressive experience with racism, I am not sure, but every other experience pales in comparison.
Perhaps it was the way that he had looked at me too. The look of hatred, disgust in this man’s eyes. He did not know me and I did not know him, so how could he dislike me so much?
Racism is a living thing.
It is a creature that brews under the surface, just waiting to rear its ugly head at any given moment. It waits for any reason. Any opportunity. Any at all. And then it pounces.
Yes. The incident in Tallaght happened. Those people broke into the convenience store, Lidl, stole the safe and looted the shop. Yes, people will be left out of jobs for God knows how long. But the hatred that I have seen come out of the Irish population in direct response to the actions of these people is so sickening that it brings tears to my eyes.
The looting was carried out by a multitude of people. All different races. In fact, it was permeated by a number of Irish nationals. But yet when I open my social media, I am bombarded with comments about our credibility.
It is once again made an “us” and “them” situation and the black individuals that participated in the incident were racially abused, insulted with comments like “f**K them out of the plane over the sea”, “What did he filled the bags with? Bananas *insert monkey emoji*” and so many more hurtful comments that are too distasteful to include in my post.
But the deafening conclusion was that the Irish people felt that we should be taken out of their country, because we are taking up space, taking up social welfare spaces and housing spaces whilst their own Irish people are left starving and homeless on the streets.
I would like to take this moment to reiterate the fact that I work full time, pay my taxes and that can be said for all of my friends, who are either working full time or in college trying to get their degrees. Or both in many instances. The idea that we, as migrants, are leeching off the country is absurd to me as I have literally worked so hard for everything that I have. I see Ireland as my country too. I claim it even in the very name of my blog!
Of course, I do not condone the behaviour of these black people that were involved in what happened in Tallaght. It was wrong and those people that participated were incredibly immoral but immorality comes in all shades, all colours and all races.
They were all in the wrong.
But how come all I see is young black boys all over my newsfeed, with realms and realms of hatred flowing towards them and in turn, me.
The comments were never specific, always general and completely impregnated with hatred. So much hatred.
So I ask you Ireland, do you hate me because of my skin? Do you want me out?
And to the world-
Will you forever judge or hate all of my people because of the actions of a few of us or for no other reason than the colour of our skin?