“As an African living abroad”

Blackness, Racism, Name

Photographed by Ruvimbo Togara.

What do you tell your child when their skin colour is racial profiled before their true character is unveiled? How do explain to them that their BLACKNESS is not a curse but its a blessing? How do you go beyond the stereotypes that society labeled us before we were even conceived how do we now let the next generation know that being black is not a curse? That our blackness is something to be proud of…

Before this topic is unpacked the reason behind the title that I the writer has chosen for this piece I have a few disclaimers to make. I am proud of my African roots. If I come off as if I’m brainwashed since I’ve lived in the diaspora my whole life I apologise in advance. Also If I offend any people who are not off African decent I apologise in advance. Now that’s out of the way..

LET’S UNPACK THIS BACKPACK…

Having been raised in Africa for the first few years of my childhood I never had the knowledge of race. I never knew that my skin was black and I never knew what racism was. I had Caucasian teachers when I went to preschool  I never questioned why they had a different skin tone to me. They never made me feel out of place I felt welcomed. I felt safe.

When things started to get bad in Zimbabwe my Parents decided to move me and my little brother to Australia. They moved us here for a brighter future and for us to get a great education. I thank my parents for that because I honestly don’t know where I would’ve been if they hadn’t made the decisions they did make and the sacrifices they chose to take. Thanks Mum and Dad.

Moving away from the Motherland  exposes the true character of racism..

Photographed by Ruvimbo Togara.

Growing up out of Africa is often hard when you settle into a new culture where the world around you is fascinated by the colour of your skin rather than the person you are within.

Having to have moved to a westernised country at such a young  age was when I found out I was BLACK… Racism became so evident that the very skin that my parents raised me to believe was beautiful was made to look unpleasing to my new environment by the people that freely accepted me I had been growing up in Zimbabwe.

Can you relate? Can you feel how painful it is to be racial profiled before they know your name?

I remember asking my mother ” What is black? Why do people say I’m black?”

She had no words but ” That’s what they call us here.”

The question that’s often pondered on.. ” Is Something Wrong With US That The First Thing We’re Asked Is Where we’ve come from and Not Our Name?

Have you ever wondered why people as soon as they see our rich chocolate skin immediately before they get to know about us.. they ask ” Where are you from?” Is it so that we can be labelled and stereotyped by the  false claims of what Africa really is?

I know It seems like I’m ranting right now. But I’m sure some of you can relate…

I was recently labelled by an Aussie Bloke ( Guy for those of you who don’t understand the slang.)  He was like ” Oh where are you guys visiting from?”  Implying that I’m an overseas student.  Now there’s nothing wrong with international students. What got to me was why did he jump to the conclusion that I wasn’t from this land? was it because I was different in colour to him?…   I looked at him and said, “I’m an Australian citizen.”

Photographed by Ruvimbo Togara.

The way He apologised when he heard my Aussie accent made him realise not to judge people based on their skin colour. We exchanged in some Aussie banter when he finally realised the mistake he had made which was cool.

See the issue is why do people assume that you are something that you are not before they get to know the simple things like your NAME? what about a simple “Hey nice to meet you. My name is…. What’s Yours? Then we can unpack the where are you from topic later. Much later in the conversation. Yah feel me?

Well that’s a wrap guys I hope you enjoyed unpacking this bag with me and we can unpack it further if you want to! I would love to hear your stories. Thanks for reading Talk soon.

Lots of love Ruvimbo x

 

Written by Ruvimbo Togara
Zimbabwean born + Australian raised entrepreneur and creative based in Melbourne Australia.