New Zealand: Being Black In A Predominantly White Country.

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Disclaimer:  For those who are reading this and aren’t Black please continue to read. I want you to be educated and get a slight glimpse into the world of being oppressed and discriminated against. 

Currently on my flight back to The States and I can honestly say I’m ready to be home. I miss my family, my state (Tx) ,and most of all I miss the connection I’m able to make with other Black People throughout each day…) The connection I’m referring to is when you see another black person and you give each other “the look.” The “sick and tired of the stuff we put up with” look or my recent favorite the “finally another person of African Decent” look. 

I recently was afforded the opportunity to travel to New Zealand for education, service ,and cultural enrichment. Myself and 12 other students traveled with my University Texas A&M University Commerce. 

Now there are two experiences that occurred during the trip that have shaped me more as a person. Now lean in because these three things aren’t your typical “I learned to be more inclusive and open to new things” post. 

This is my prospective and thoughts on traveling to a country with less than 1.2% of citizens that identify themselves as African Decent. Now the only way I know is to be is real so if at any point you get uncomfortable keep reading because we don’t change the world by being timid. 

Experience 1: Non Blacks using the word Nigga

So it’s Night number 8 and we students decided we’d just buy drinks for those 21 & up and play games. A bonding night if you will. 

So the night commences ,everyone is enjoying each other’s company ,and conversation. As we play a classic game of never have I ever (my fav) some of my dear colleagues are singing along to a song and decide they weren’t going to skip/bleep/pause over the word nigga. Yes, I’m for real. 

My mind immediately goes into fight or flight mode. But then I remember my location and the fact that I had been indulging in adult beverages. So I noted it in my “you got me messed up” memory and decide to bring it up when the whole group is together during a debrief so they (anyone who is not black or of African Descent) knows that the word is not valid for them to use, educate them on why ,and let them know it’s utterly disrespectful. 

So then about thirty minutes later myself and two of my Hispanic colleagues are talking about our family struggles. As the conversation continues they both use nigga more than once. Again, we were all tipsy or more so to me it wasn’t the time to address the matter in the way I wanted to. 

“H*LL NAH” 

“WTF”

“Woowwwww”

Are some reactions you may be experiencing. 

This was the first time anyone other than black had openly used the word nigga in my presence. And I was the only black person there. It was a slap in the face and it pierced straight to my soul. What was going through my mind you may ask?

  1. Why do they think it’s okay to say nigga?
  2. Do they understand what the word even means?
  3. Who the hell do they think they are? 
  4. Beat their a**. That’s all that’s left to do sis!
  5. Girl, you 17 hours away from home. Don’t be stupid.

I took that night to think and process what had just happened. I woke up and found the other black people on the trip and ran down the situation and asked them what they thought. 

“Umm no!”

“That’s not okay!”

“I know you lying!”

“So when we talking to the group?”

“Maybe they have a friend who is black that said it was okay.”

So later that day in our debrief (a time where the group comes together and talks about the past day or two) I spoke up and said, “I have heard some people saying nigga. It’s not okay to use that word  especially if you aren’t black because it expresses and infiltrates the power imbalance in our world. I’m not sure if you have a friend that allows you use it with them. Unfortunately, your friend doesn’t represent the whole black community so don’t say it around me” 

The room went completely silent and I don’t think anyone was breathing for like 3/4 seconds. 

So my advisor (who is black) asked the group, “so what are y’alls thoughts?” 

No one said anything at first and then someone commented:

White Girl: “I haven’t personally heard anyone say it.” 

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Me: “Nah. Three people used it last night during the game.” (She tried it.)

Hispanic Girl: “I don’t use it because I’m not Black and I wouldn’t want anyone using words similar to that about my culture.”

Everyone: I agree. 

*The rules on using nigga can be found below in the photo. 

Before I move on I want the readers to understand one thing about communication. “How you present and say something is more important than what you are saying.” You see this conversation would’ve went left if I said “don’t say that sh*t! You ain’t black” or “so why have y’all been using the word nigga?” 

Being disrespectful back wouldn’t have helped. Including everyone by saying “y’all” is including those who weren’t using the word nigga. Being direct, upfront and respectful is the best way to educate and let these people know you not playing with them while also remaining professional.

Experience 2: My skin incriminates me across the globe, not just in the United States. 

So me and the same group of students (all White or Hispanic other than me) decided to go out to the club again. We go to Dakota’s – A Texas Country Club (yes in New Zealand. A whole 17 hours away!)

We get inside and all that is going through my head is:

“I know you lying!”

“Why the heck did I even come out?”

“Why are all these people staring at me”

Now let me give you some background.

There’s less than 1.2% of Blacks or people of African descent in New Zealand. Meaning out of 4 million people only 48,000 of those people are of African Descent. So in layman’s terms every 83 people you see you’ll find one person of African Descent. You can just imagine how out-of-place I was. 

So about 40 minutes pass and myself and two other girls in my group sat down to chill and a New Zealander of European Descent walks up to me. She goes, “Hey I left my purse next to you and I need to look for it.” So I scoot over and allowed her to dig through the coats that were on the booth. I kept telling myself, “You’re in New Zealand people here don’t racial profile like they do in the United States.” My thoughts were interrupted when her and her friend stood about three feet away whispering while looking at me and pointing. They saw me looking and then the friend came over and said, “I’m just gonna look for her purse real quick, she knows she left it here.” I rolled my eyes to myself trying to stay calm. They didn’t find the purse and ended up walking away to look elsewhere. My friend next to me (Hispanic) nudged me and said, “It’s crazy how people can be racist and discriminate in places other than the States; you’d never expect that. I nodded and said, “You’re right. It’s not surprising I just expected more.” Now the young ladies who thought I had the purse never heard my voice so I could have been any nationality to their knowledge. When they finally found the purse they never apologized which wasn’t expected. 

My dear brethren. 

  1.  I would have never known that other countries were similar to The States when it came to racial profiling if I never gained the courage and decided to travel aboard. Like the gentleman on the plane advised me, “You never know life outside your bubble (your country) until you travel elsewhere.” 
  2.  Don’t go into situations expecting the worse because not every non-black person is racist. Be open and allow people to show you who you are.
  3. Stand your ground! I could have brushed off the fact that my colleagues said nigga. I could have left them uneducated on the topic and how it made me feel. The person I am, the morals I stand for,and my outspokenness wouldn’t allow me to go without saying anything. 

 

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Thanks for reading. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to stay updated whenever we post. 

From your favorite Chocolate Chip ,

[keep yo heart; Stay trill]

LaShuna

#WOKE #Travel #NewZealand #DearWhitePeople #Texas #communication #BlackGirl #racialprofiling

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