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#COAA3: 'Why does my life have to be so political?' Storytimes and microaggressions. yay.

Updated: Jun 18

By Coco R'

Hello, Hola, Bonjour, Hesi. Happy New Year. So this one has been sitting in the drafts for over a year now. I was so butt hurt about this encounter that talking about it at that moment would have been ALL emotion and no I shelved it. But I'm ready to talk about it now... let's have it.

The funniest thing happened to me in class today (well not funny haha but rather a revelation of a truth I'd never given much thought). Ok for those unaware, I'm an undergrad student (was! yo girl is 'edumacated' now). So we're in a workshop and we're instructed to work in groups of ten. The easiest way to accomplish this would be if the two rows closest to each other worked together as each row contained four-five people. So I suggested we all make one group, merely out of convenience and efficiency. And to my surprise, I was met with rather odd looks from the non-black students as if it was ludicrous for me to make to such a suggestion.

(Ok so amongst the 10 of us this was the demographic: Three Black people, two Asians and five White people.)

I ignored the looks. Essentially, the white group rejected the idea of us working together and opted to work as their own group of 5 and the Asian girls their own group of two. Ironically, the professor ended up making us one whole group anyway (lol). Throughout the assignment, no effort was made on their end to include us in their discussions. We worked independently in our races and feedbacked our research to the Asian girl who was working closely with the white group and she was also the assigned presenter. The time to feedback on our research came and this girl completely disregarded the research myself and the two other black students had conducted and only read the work gathered by her, her friend and the white counterparts (as in completely skipped past the slides in the PowerPoint. bruh.)

This interaction riled up so many negative emotions within me.

I think over the years I've become quite desensitised to microaggressions and any racially motivated alienation really, but something about vividly experiencing this and not knowing what to call it just infuriated me. First and foremost, what annoyed me the most is the cold shoulder from the Asian girls. Black and Asian communities are both considered as minorities in the Western world. We are the last to be considered for anything systemically revolutionising or progressive and we also have to work harder for opportunities granted to our white counterparts for minimal effort. So tell me...

am I wrong for expecting a level of mutual understanding and respect from fellow minorities?

Cause the interesting dynamic unravels when you notice the ways in which western culture insists upon clustering minorities together. They force us to see our struggles from the same lens. They give us support groups where we sit and commiserate about our unimportance in society and how constantly overlooked and forgotten we are but let's be clear. We are not the same. Our positions in the western power structure are also very different. The BAME demographic is too large and divergent to be viewed as one. I will never understand the struggle of Asians because I am not Asian. Simple as. They don't understand me either. Quiet as it's kept, some Asians have a shared complex about black people. Yes, we both are minorities. But from the perspective of the 'white gaze', they understand that they are indeed higher in the western power structure compared to blacks. They are more of an asset to the west. And that is what compels their superiority complex when regarding black people. (only a small sum)

I just hate how political life has to be. My life has to be. Now my race is literally a personal offense to people before I even open my mouth. Before they know my name. Or my story.

Intellectuals of our time often reduce racism to simply being a social construct but I don't think that's true. I think that is a surface examination of social theory. To just say it's a difference in hue. Evidently, race might have been weaponised by supremacists in their quest for world domination, but race has always been an identity. Even before integration. I don't believe there was a society where race was merely a colour and not a constitution. It has always been a culture, a differentiated existence; we were just able to coexist back then. All of us in our respective regions of the world.

So when I'm shunned because of my race, it's not just because they don't like my colour. It is society rejecting my identity and the very fibre of what my cognition was built upon. It's deeper than colour...

...And now I know what to call it.

What has Coco been listening to?

Zombies (Childish Gambino)
The Heart Part 5 (Kendrick Lamar)
Could I Be Falling In Love (Sly Johnson)
As Long as I've Got You (The Charmels)
Love, Need and Want You (Patti LaBelle)

Let me know what you think and see you on the next one cocobeans.



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