When I see the representation of Black and Brown individuals in the media today, I feel uplifted. Finally, we're being seen, recognised and allowed to leave a positive mark on society. But what I've also found is although we may be more noticeable, we're still not being listened to.
2020 was a pivotal year for many of us. We saw a rise in anger and frustration after the death of George Floyd. We gained allies and educated many on what micro-aggression is and how racism can come across as so subtle you might just miss it. During the lockdown, we raised our voices through protests, petitions and vigils. All in the hope that we would see some significant change in how we have been treated until now. On the surface, yes. You can say more Black and Brown actors are winning awards, or Black designers see their work get more recognition.
But even in certain rooms, like the recent Critics Choice Awards, director Jane Campion made a comment that displayed her entitlement. She discredits Venus and Serena Williams' accomplishments by saying they don't "play against the guys" like she has to. Time and time again, people of colour, particularly Black women, are the butt of the joke. We're brushed off as not being good enough to be in the same room as someone white. And even when we're told to work at least twice as hard to be treated with the same respect, we're not.
And what about the everyday person? Why must HBCU students like in Spelman College, Atlanta, receive bomb threats just for attending their school? Hate crimes fall under the umbrella of racism. So, it feels like when we think we're moving forward with equality, something reminds us the finishing line is nowhere near where we want it to be.
Even worse, our children live through racial trauma before they've even sat their GCSEs. Black boys are being stopped and searched in their school uniforms and mishandled by the police because they fit the description of a "criminal". It's one of the reasons we won't be saying goodbye to racism any time soon—adultification at its finest. More recently, the media covered the Child Q case and the disturbing treatment of a teenage girl suspected of carrying drugs when they found nothing. Safeguarding was thrown out the window when her teachers and the police saw a Black individual before seeing a child. Child Q's case took place at the end of 2020. So even when we screamed, opposed and debated as loud as possible, what real difference did it make?
And just like that, society remains silent again. A week or two of outrage and back to our daily routines. Of course, social media will continue to highlight more discrimination. And there's no doubt another case will pop up. But when will Black and Brown people be listened to as much as less melanated individuals? Because it seems like it will be a while until we're finally acknowledged in society without negative connotations attached to our race.
I don't think racism is going anywhere any time soon. As prejudice is deep-rooted in our psyche, generations of mistreatment and disrespect have gotten us to where we are today. Meaning many of us are still at the start of altering the way we think, act and treat our brothers and sisters. Racism within our own communities, like colourism, also adds to how we view each other.
Discrimination is still alive and working overtime. But that doesn't mean the steps we've taken aren't making a change. Even a small difference is still a difference. And if we don't keep pushing for a transformation, the narrative will remain the same.
Written by Seraphina Adebayo
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