“Will you do it?”
Emma calmly finishes her last sip of cider. I don’t really know. It would be interesting though.
October this year commemorates the Black Lives Matter movement, and the school has asked us staff minions to contribute to the discussion by talking about any black figure relevant to our chosen field of expertise.
I have not written a single word for nearly four months, and here I am, ready to take pen and paper and wear them as heralds to this war against discrimination and racism. Gin and Tonic in hand, I find this call for a paper echoing issues which I feel strongly about. I’m ready to take down the world and, unapologetically, write a revolutionary paper.
Something keeps on tickling me though.
Admittedly, the idea is good.
But the paper remains awfully white and, in an obtuse refusal, the words mutiny. When they finally yield, they are mischievous and empty.
Writing is hard. Especially if we strive for deeper meaning. Especially when writing about something that excites us. To be honest, it is not. What is difficult is to walk the very thin line that legitimacy is.
How to talk about Black Lives Matter when I’m not Black myself? Or at least not fully Black.
I have had the chance of being born White in a world where it is easier to be White. Nonetheless, I’ve always felt like a scam. I’m White passing, that is to say I was born White in a mixed-race family. Because of that, I’ve always been very much aware of different ethnicities and communities. Or rather, I’ve always noticed how people ticked certain boxes, when others did not (and here, in the UK, the combination of ethnicities you can tick is so wide that I reinvent myself every time I apply to a new university or go to the GP).
In Mauritius I felt estranged. In Europe it is easier: I can chameleon my way pretty much anywhere. Because of my family, I feel strongly about BLM, I understand the struggle. I do. But I have also been, justly (or is it?) reminded that I cannot fully understand the scope of the problem.
One of the reasons why BLM remains a sensitive matter lies in the fact that it is very hard to not be accused of white saviourism. How can we draw the line? Who’s entitled to tackle certain issues?
I don’t have the answers. I only gladly ask the questions.
I remember writing a piece earlier this year, and one of my friends told me that it was good that I had not been too vehement as I had no legitimacy in talking about the plight of some ethnicities.
Really? How so? I hear his point, but still. What is acceptable to talk about and what is not? Should there be a safe word, like “PRIVILEGED!”, to shout before addressing these issues?
And what should I do when a private (and of white majority, staff and pupils combined) school asks its staff to write something to open the discussion?
The intention is honourable, but, as the saying goes, they tend to pave the road to hell.