February 6th 2014 was my 3rd wedding anniversary. The hubby did something special- he asked our Pastor to come home and have a special prayer with us early in the morning. It was great. Given we both had a busy day ahead, we agreed to have dinner together and then see a movie.
I got off work, and raced to the salon to get my hair and nails ‘did’. As usual, it took longer than expected, so the hubby had dinner alone, and then we went to see the movie. The movie was ’12 Years A Slave’ - which brings me to my first lesson of the day – never EVER see a movie about slavery on your wedding anniversary or any anniversary for that matter. For those of you who have seen the movie, you know what I am talking about.
In the movie theatre, we had a Caucasian couple sitting just above us. They were quite noisy before the movie started which got me a bit irritated. But then the movie started and unfolded, and they became dead silent. Pin drop. No popcorn crunching. No sodas guzzling. Silent.
As the movie progressed, I found myself becoming increasingly angry, bitter and upset. All the incidents of racism I had experienced started welling up in my head and I kept thinking about each one and what I should have done:-
I should have stood up when that arrogant European guy in my first college in Divonne, France, asked if I wrote the standard company test to get into the company....
I should have told that ignorant American lady to kiss my black ass when she asked me, with surprise etched over her face where I learnt to speak English.....
I should have drummed up a suitable and stinging retort when that pampered Middle Eastern dude said some project we were working on was not suitable for the Nigerian consumer because we are too poor. ...
I should have insisted that the shop assistant give us standard service when I went wedding rings shopping in Birmingham.......
And I should have really said what I felt needed to be said, in a recent meeting about compensation, benefits and remuneration for locals.
And then in my musings, the hitherto silent Caucasian couple started their wahala. I think the guy was trying to make a call or stop his phone from ringing. Whatever. He was desecrating hallowed ground. We were trying to make sense out of an unjust slavery situation and he was making a call?!
My mind immediately started hatching a plan- what if I got up and shouted at him to keep quiet? Or maybe turned round and said something to the effect of – why are you even here sef?
What if he said something I considered racist, and then the crowd would come to my defence and together, we would beat him up? At least one person deserved to pay for all the injustice the black race have suffered no?
I was horrified by my thoughts – I just had the most amazing prayer session in the morning, and here I was, less than 24 hours later, hatching evil thoughts to beat up some white guy.
Thankfully, the rest of the movie went without any incidents, but I was rather shaken by the force of my somewhat violent thoughts.
I remember my facebook post after the movie. It was something like: You see a movie like 12 years a slave, and You. Want. To. Kill. Someone. I guess no one knew how close I really was to killing someone. Ok, ok, I exaggerate, but if thoughts could kill………….
Am I racist too? And if I am, is it justified? I know that technically you do not repay evil with evil, but after being in the receiving line all the time, don’t I have the right to be a lil racist too?
Granted, you do have to contend with a lot if you are black. Add to that being female. Add to that being African. Add to that being Nigerian. You get it all- chauvinism (with men telling you to calm down or not to be aggressive); racism (with everyone questioning your competence because you are black) and of course corruption-nism (after all, you are Nigerian and corruption is part of your DNA).
So then you develop a thick skin, and sometimes give back just a little dose of the racism you get. Or at least you wish you did.
I guess witty retorts and the famed black woman eye roll/hair flip is harmless. The real harm will come when we also fall into the trap of discrimination and antagonism towards others of a different race. Then, we become real racists too. And no one wants that.
So be rest assured, the next time someone asks me: Where did you learn to speak English that well? I would have a suitable answer. One that would not resort to violence. I hope.