Imagine How It Feels To Be Black Or Brown In A White Country
It sometimes can be too exhausting and unbearable.
Perhaps it is hard for some of us to comprehend my point; for others can be more manageable. But if you look inside yourself, you will indeed find something poignant in you that society disapproves of. What I refer to here are not the shallow things but things deep inside you that define who you are.
If you can see that particular spot, you can notice the debilitating soreness society’s disapproval causes. Then you can imagine what it would be like to experience that agony every day of your life.
We all have ethnic roots coming from different cultural backgrounds. There is not a single superior race on this earth. Each culture is unique and brings its own values to global society. We all share this tiny planet in the vast universe.
Living and working in 30 plus different countries, my ethnicity has always been an issue. Personal questions made me uncomfortable sometimes. When I gave honest answers, the body language of the natives depicted disapproval.
Some even joked about my name and looks, even disturbing remarks offending me at a deeper level. Some caring mentors even proposed changing my name to survive in those countries where my name was not expected and familiar. I listened to them but never chose to hide my identity to gain the approval of prejudiced people. I did not want to change my identity.
I respected people in every country I lived and worked in. I lived by following the country’s rules, respecting their culture, and adhering to work ethics. It was difficult for me to understand why my cultural background and identity bothered them and caused disapproval.
I firmly believe that we are all equal as human beings. We all have body, mind, and soul regardless of our color, culture, gender, sexual orientation, age, disabilities, beliefs, and perspectives.
We all born, live, and die holding dreams and aspirations to experience this world in this limited time. Sadly, this time can be relatively short for some disadvantaged ones, especially those who suffer from emotional stress.
The reason I share this personal perspective is to show that discrimination of one’s race, cultural background, color, gender, age, beliefs, and opinions can hurt deeply and create emotional stress.
With this awareness, I became more sensitive to the needs of minorities in my personal and professional life. I gave an equal voice to all minorities in my teams. The diversity I nurtured brought a lot of tangible and intangible values to my ventures. And I am determined to continue this approach with confidence.
Since I established ILLUMINATION and ILLUMINATION-Curated publications on Medium, I have had the honor of discovering, engaging with, mentoring, and coaching several writers who write on the topics of diversity, racism, and equality.
I have offered them a large platform to share their voices on an often-painful matter that they live with daily. I amplify their messages and have also engaged with them to understand how it feels to walk in their shoes.
I wrote this piece with inspiration from Rebecca Stevens A. one of the contributing writers to my publications. Rebecca recently shared the following account with me. This conversation opened my eyes and helped me better understand the impact and implications of racism on innocent human beings suffering unncessary emotinal trauma.
“Imagine how it feels like to leave your house every day and be afraid. Afraid that somehow, someone will insult you or mistreat you because of your skin color. Imagine how it would feel if you went into a store to buy something, but the store manager assumed that you were going there to steal and constantly followed you around. Imagine if you called up an UBER and the driver cancelled your ride when he spotted a black person — you, in the distance.
Imagine walking into a hairdresser salon, being met at the door, and being told that they cannot style your texture of hair. Imagine being qualified yet having significant challenges in finding employment. Imagine that you are in pain, but the doctor does not believe that you are because you are black, and according to his or her flawed judgment, you should have a higher pain threshold. These are all examples of how your life can be negatively impacted because you are black. Doesn’t that sound exhausting? Yes, it is.
Are all men and women truly created equal? You learn that all men and women are created equal, yet you realize that you are never treated equally when you are black. Each day you wage a battle against inequality and injustice. Living life as a black person in a white-dominated society is stressful. You have to keep reminding yourself of your worth all the time. You need to develop coping mechanisms to deal with racial microaggression and macro aggression. You have to be strong despite the fierce headwinds that come your way. It’s not an easy life.
But at the same time, you must be an optimist and believe that change is possible. You cannot sit around and accept your condition and the amount of racism in the world. So you use the tools at your disposal: your social media channels and your network. You build your platform, and you share your voice.
Social movements can only gain momentum when a unified group of leaders, allies, and do-ers come together and advocate for, drive, and implement change. That should be your mantra if you ever want to see an end to racism in our lifetimes.”
I listened attentively to what Rebecca had to say and realized that I, too, had a role to play in fighting racism and contributing to equality and peace.
As an editor and influencer, my specific role on content platforms is to be an ally and continue giving writers from black, brown, and every other spectrum of color a voice through my publications.
Thank you for reading my perspectives.
The original version of this story was curated and published here.
About the author
I'm a writer and published author with four decades of content development experience in business, technology, leadership, and health. I work as a postdoctoral researcher and consultant. My background is at https://digitalmehmet.com.