I wake up everyday knowing that I am not superior to anyone else. I wake up knowing that I am a girl, and nothing else. I hold no divine authority. I hold no power. But one thing I do know, is that I will be judged on the colour of my skin.
The colour of my skin has always been a difficult one for me. I remember thinking as a child that I was no different. I ran as fast as the boys. I played ‘Mummy and Daddy’ with the girls. Of course I knew that the majority of people were white where I lived, but to me that was never a problem. I would be complimented on my skin tone, with adults wishing that they could tan like me when they go away to Spain. So for me, being brown was just another thing that made me, me.
I remember a few things as a child that would make me wonder if I was actually really different. When I was eight, I participated in the school play as a Hawaiian dancer. The girls were required to wear hula outfits and skin coloured tights. This was the first problem, the all tones bought for us to wear were way to light. I went on stage with tights that made me look like one half of me was brown, the other half white. This got me thinking, were these tights accurate representations of what your skin should be? But as an eight year old, I brushed off this quickly, not understanding its importance. When I was eleven, my mum sent me to the local shop to buy some milk. I remember distinctly walking past this Chinese restaurant to be whistled at. I turned around hastily wondering where that noise came from and before I could recognise these boys, they shouted out “hey brownie” and “go back to your own country”.
I did not tell anybody about that for years as I stupidly put it to the back of my mind and told myself i was being an idiot and they probably thought i was somebody else. As a sixteen year old, I was faced with a hard decision. Knowing that schools like Mountview or Bird were interested in myself and my sister attending there schools, I had to decide whether or not I wanted to be a performer or an academic. One of the biggest reasons I didn’t follow my heart was because I knew that as well as being a twin, being a brown girl meant that less job offers or opportunities would be open for me. Less directors want to cast girls who look like me.
I know these are only little things and I should be grateful as nothing truly terrible has happened to me but I cannot help but wonder what if. What if I was born white. Now, this is not an article expressing negative views about white people because that, is well, just absurd. But I cannot help by think that if I was born white, I would have never felt isolated or lonely because of my skin colour. Those distinct moments have shaped me however. When I was eight I became more determined to be heard so I started to become more confident. As an eleven year old, I found my love for books and history throughout looking up what it meant to be in this country. At sixteen, I ensured a very happy and bright future for myself. I would not be carving a path to work for a prolific NGO when I’m older to ensure that thousands have not felt like I did for one second. I know I am privileged, so think about those who combat racism EVERYDAY. They carry around the “we are not the same” placard on their back.
WE are all the same.