Sun, Mar 1, 2020
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...Take me back to the 6th of January... if you are reading this you already know about my safe spot with Asians from part 1, if not please go read it. Now, fast forward to the afternoon of the 7th, landed safely in Philadelphia's beautiful airport. I had to pick my luggage from the carousel for my next connecting local flight. As I was waiting by, ten seconds in I was approached by this 6 ft 8 inches airport security personnel and he had his own questions for me...
For some obvious reason, I feel less nervous when around black folks, I got to know this the first time I attended an interview session in New York. I had three separate interviewers; Pretty Indian lady, Mean Chinese guy; the absolute bane of my professional career, this was not your typical Jackie Chan, he was a bad-ass villain in my story and guess what? He won and I did not. When he was done with me, I was totally devastated and wanted to just go home, however, I figured the next couldn’t be any worse than Jackie Chan’s alter ego. As I raised my head, I saw the most graceful black man ever. He was the Adorable Ivorian man and immediately I felt a sense of belonging and calm…If you have not read the first part of this, please read it here.
As I stood before the giant security personnel, it felt like I was before the great white throne judgement, I became very uncomfortable unlike I was with Mr. Ivorian. He asked where I was coming from and the purpose of my trip to the US, he also wanted to know what countries I had layovers & connecting flights. I told him about the wedding and he made corny jokes, I gave him all the documents he requested and I was cleared. In that moment, I began observing for the next twenty minutes and it struck me; these security personnel only stopped and questioned black, middle-eastern looking men who were slim or muscular. This sample set spoke a lot to me maybe because I over analyze things, but that is what I want to talk about in this.
One of the worst phrases I’ve ever had to listen to over and over again. It is the most misdirecting and thoughtless phrases ever. I do not have any idea where it originated or why intellectuals have it at their tongue’s tips but I do not buy into it. Usually it is used to describe people who are not white especially in the united states. This makes me question my art tutors, cos if white is also a color, why are non-whites referred to as people of color. Every person on the earth is a person of color but institutionalized superiority has set white as the basis for the longest time and even intellectuals cannot see past it. As long as that phrase lives on, the non-whites would never be seen as true equals. I prefer being called black because it is what I am and I am proud of that, than being referred to as a person of color by another person of color, I just find that logic faulty and maybe I’m alone here.
It is possible to overlook these kinds of structures but they are responsible for the gross cases of body-shaming we have in the world today, especially among fat people. Slim/ Muscular people built a standard and uses it as a tool to demote fat people. These fat people are no longer comfortable in their skin and some think they’re not sufficient enough because they added some weight. If you do not believe me, the next lady you see, compliment her by saying “Hey, you gained some good weight” , even in the most friendly tone, I can almost say with certainty that she would take a little offence. These stereotypes makes people believe they are less than some others which is not true. I must say fat people have a lot going for them, they’re never the first suspects for any crime which may explain why the airport security were not questioning any fat people. [I am sure some of you are feeling very uncomfortable seeing the word “fat” scattered across this board, and it is intentional. This is because I believe that in order to remove the stigma which has been attached to this beautiful word, using it frequently could help normalize it. I don’t see anyone avoiding the use of “ripped, slim” etc. why then should fat be substituted for “phat, thick, big” ? If people can be slim and proud, then you should be fat and proud. However, being Obese is unhealthy and could shorten one’s life span, so whatever you do, avoid that. ] Time and time again some of the colored-fat individuals have risen above these limitations and made names for themselves.
I love being black, you should love being white, fat, ripped or whatever you are comfortable with. You would come across challenges that seek to break your soul and root hatred in but you must never let that happen. A friend shared a story with me after the first part of the piece and I’ll share it briefly as we round off. I have no idea why airports are such inflections points for many of us but here is J standing next to an Indian lady and her kids. She had questions regarding some stuff like we all have from time to time, but to J’s greatest surprise, the lady feigned dumb. In an attempt to save the family’s pride, one of the daughters started to answer J’s question and almost immediately like a spider webs its prey, the mother hen placed her claws over her daughter’s mouth and pulled her by hand, away from my friend. J was left there, confused and wishing she had just asked the officials. This sends a strong message that even among the “people of color”, some colors see themselves as more superior shades than others… and as the revered Ernest Hemingway once said “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man, true nobility is being superior to the man you were yesterday”. This is my message to you, everyone has a light to shine, let them shine that light as brightly as they can and respect the light.
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Original Author: Myself | Original Idea: Discussions and Observations.