It is not the fact that we live in both worlds but the balancing of the two worlds that weighs heavily on our shoulders. We know we must balance because we are aware of the roles we play in these worlds.
One can argue that the black child becomes schizophrenic from birth – suffers from a multiple personality disorder. Be white but remain black. Those who belong to one group over the other will never truly understand the complexity of the black child’s dilemma. The black child who was raised in a black environment, in a black neighbourhood and attended black schools only to mix with other races at a later point in life will never fully comprehend the duplicity of the other child’s reality. The black child who was raised in a white environment with white neighbours, white classmates, in the white world only to mix with other races at a later point in life will never understand the intricacies of the schizophrenic black child’s mentality. This is not only about racial issues but understanding that the black-child’s identity was formed by two contrasting realities. Black children, now adults, understand too well the difficulties of living and surviving in this world. A world that holds us to ransom.
We also have the white counterparts with whom we attended school who always find themselves deeply offended by the black experience. They use this imagined offence to police us in our homes and at our jobs. There is so much power in being offended by something that has nothing to do with you.
I had a big laugh with an old friend of mine over a comment I posted on Facebook about white mediocrity. I have come to understand that my most evident experience of racism is that of mediocre whites. White mediocrity at the workplace; white mediocrity in academia. White mediocrity in the form of line managers and their bosses. White mediocrity in the form of lecturers and professors. Their proximity to me, in all spaces I inhabit, is a severe kind of racism and trauma to my psyche. It is a mental prison which manifests itself physically in that they are the owners of black survival. I must adhere to their rules in order to buy groceries and eat, pay rent, drink clean water and sleep. I must also feign awe at lecturers’ inability to process contradicting thoughts or apply philosophical reasoning.
The worst is I can’t even be honest about my own disgruntlement on social media because of the policing by white allies formerly known as classmates and lecture mates.
My friend and I laughed.
The truth about the black-child’s dilemma is that it intensifies with age. Any opinion he or she might have that does not follow mass thought is seen as anti-white. When the black child attempts to voice their frustrations, they are called professional blacks. When I write on my personal Facebook page about how I was mistreated by a white counterpart, a white ally will come and explain my feelings to me.
However, the worst is the monitoring of blackness by other blacks. One can’t help but laugh when one attends functions held by black people, for black people, to push black ideals within the boundaries of whiteness. Some of these black professionals are whiter than the white allies.
The best part of all of this is when the black child realises that their upbringing was a lie; that it was in fact all an act; and that they are lost in someone else’s evolution. They panic. The panic comes from the realisation that you, as the black child, have become deeply invested in anti-blackness. You have been forced to deny who you are and made to embrace foreign irrationalities as truth. However, should the black child voice these frustrations they are accused of seeking regression; rejecting progress; thus, implying that the black child’s entirety is moving towards extinction. Death.
So, what does one do? Does one remove themselves from their race entirely in order to please the “holders of wealth”? Many have.
The proverbial war to whiteness – it is better, it must be. How you create slaves. Slaves dependent on master’s pittance. Some of your children have white names and only speak in white tongues.
The black child is never truly aware of this. The dilemma will not be fully recognised until you choose to remove the veil from your eyes. The removal leaves you confused or frustrated. Imagine a grown person who must now learn to be black. A slave who must now be free.
The black child, just like the slave, finds themselves under constant attack. An attack on your personhood will take a similar form to: ‘But you are not like the rest of them’. The ones who are lost forever are the ones unable to decipher the true meaning of this statement which is quickly followed by: ‘But you know what I mean’.
If one is eager to please and ‘not be like the rest of them’ then one chooses to leave the perpetrator happy and comfortable, blinded by the obviousness of that statement. Or maybe it’s the ego that refuses to acknowledge the real meaning of those words. Should you dare ask ‘what do you mean?’ you risk of losing the friends you never had. The black-child finds themselves burdened by this reality and learns too early in life to take responsibility for other’s uncomfortable nuisances.
I know what you meant by that statement; You know what you meant by that statement but discussing the crux of your statement will leave you uncomfortable and faced with difficult questions to answer and I have been conditioned to carry your burden, the black child will think.
The statement is later discussed in detail with other black children who share the same dilemma.