I could not say anything. I was silenced. I had to keep my mouth shut in fear of what he might say if I let one word slip through my teeth. No matter how honest, caring, concerned or reasoned my comment or question might have been, he wouldn’t have listened. He would have fired back with everything that he had. And I would have been attacked for the crimes of others.
It was the first time in my life that I had been judged by the color of my skin.
Why? Because of how closely my skin resembles the color of milk. Because my skin is the same as my ancestors. And because my skin color did not match his.
I was caught off guard when a professor from a highly acclaimed university came to my university to speak on race and judged the entire audience based on the color of their skin.
When the professor started his presentation, the first words out of his mouth made me drop my pencil and listen in fear. He yelled with fire in his words.
Not a good fire like Martin Luther King Jr. or Oprah Winfrey have that inspires anyone of any race, ethnicity, gender or person to stand up for themselves. No, it was like he wanted us to burn. He spoke with such fierceness that you could almost see the hatred streaming from his eyes.
He accused and blamed us for inequality. He blamed us for past and present problems in our society. He blamed us for how broken the system was and the way some races get treated.
He swore in disgust at the crowd. Telling us that what our ancestors “did was f*cked up” and that we are just like them.
I so badly wanted to raise my hand and say “Oh, pardon me sir, but aren’t you judging us for the color of our skin?”
But I could not. For I feared getting slaughtered with words of hatred and disgust. In his eyes, my fellow audience members and I were not worthy to speak on the matter.
I felt inferior and I felt inadequate.
I am a smart, accepting person but he couldn’t see that. He only saw me for the color of my skin. He didn’t get to know me. He didn’t sit down and ask me intellectual and compelling questions. If he would have, he would have realized that I am a good person, who loves and cares for those around me. My ancestors may have done some awful things, but I am not them.
Don’t judge by the color of skin, judge by character.
It was the first time in my life that I thought I couldn’t say anything because of the color of my skin. He would have looked at me and discounted anything I said, no matter how intellectual and accepting the statement might have been. He couldn’t see past the milk-like skin that covers my body.
Judge people by what is in their heart; not by the hue of their outer self.
Just because the color of my forearm does not match his, does mean that I am not human? Does the color of my skin take away my right to free speech? Or not to be ostracized? Or to not be accepted into programs, scholarship awards, and universities, like he so spitefully explained? We feel the same emotions. We live and breathe on the same earth. My world affects your world, and your world affects my world. We are people and we each deserve to be treated equally.
Feature Image via London Natural.