What does this mean to me?
I am a white woman, I have privilege. I recognise that we don't have to have a hashtag for white lives. As a little white girl my best friends were Geeta, Marcia and Suzann. I would like to say I didn't see colour, but I did. Invitations to play 'Charlies Angels' in the playground meant me and Suzann could join, she was a blonde like Farrah Fawcett and I was 'Sabrina' short haired brunette, if Geeta and Marcia wanted to play they were the baddies. As a white teen I saw it more; my multicultural education taught me Suzann could be called 'Nigger lover' because she kissed Erol, and that 'Pakki' was acceptable language, even though Geeta was from Uganda.
As a university student I demonstrated in Trafalgar Square against apartheid, but it wasn't until I travelled that the inhumanity became a reality. I was in South Africa in 1992, I was terrified by the security forces, but was my fear real? I was safe, with my 'clean complexion' and British Passport.
When UB40 sang 'I am a British Citizen not proud of it, while I carry the burden of shame,' I agreed. I was not proud of my Empire, the sense that millions of lives don't matter when there is land to grab. But the untold truth of Kenyan Gulags, was a shock and a privilege to hear from surviving Mau Mau. This gruesome history has only just been acknowledged by my government, who admit the atrocities, but still don't apologise or take responsibility. I cannot take pride in 'sincere regret' and the perpetuation of war and discrimination.
Some would say that I experienced 'racism' as a 'Mzungu' living in rural Kenya; I was not treated the same. My hair was touched with fascination, kids would point and follow me, and it was frustrating to not be able to barter like my sister in law, just cos I'm white! But this is not Racism, I was not regarded as inferior, unworthy or as a 'lesser' person. I was not compared to a dog, mostly I was just considered as another human being, who looked different and could afford more. Truth.
What has brought this rant on? Because, Beyoncé sings at the Super Bowl, brings her political agenda and there is outrage. A student of colour schools her teacher and it goes viral. Racism towards white people is up for discussion and it pains me!
The statistics of HIV speak volumes don't they? Maybe I need to shout it louder, as my white voice is more listened to! In 2013, Black/African Americans accounted for 46% of all new HIV infections, and make up 43% of the total number of people living with HIV in the USA, despite only making up 13% of the population. In 2016 the Black lives affected is still increasing disproportionally, it's the same story in UK. My eldest daughter says that to stand for Black rights is not to be against Whites, it is just necessary to redress the imbalance. She is mixed race, and has her own experience of what that means, she knows her life matters, and not only to me.
We went to see Beyoncé at the O2 in 2009. I am a fan. It was an amazing night for us all, a rare and precious memory. I don't believe Bey can do no wrong, but she has kept me strong. She has been a soundtrack to my story and an inspiration. I danced to Destiny's Child's 'Survivor' in 2001, while my Black baby moved inside of me. Her life mattered. I went against the advice to abort because of my diagnosis. We survived, and we keep on surviving!
I'm gonna make it.
I get in Formation.