Could the removal of the words “Black” and “White” from our language when referring to people, be the answer to breaking down the racial divide?
Do you remember when the term “cast” was ruled out of our language? One day it was perfectly acceptable to refer to a person as “half-cast” or “quarter-cast”, then a day later, it was a no-no. Okay, the transformation may not have been that quick, but it seemed like it when I was 8/9 years old. Nowadays, you could never use the word “cast” when talking about a person’s ethnic make-up. The word has been totally eradicated from our language and maybe the terms “black” and “white”, when referring to people, also deserve that same fate.
Our skin colour gives us an identity, something to live up to and something to stand for, therefore contributing to who we think we are. However, if we removed the categorisation of “black” and “white” and all that comes with it, such as: the stereotypes, the history, the expectations etc, then we would actually have to take people for who they are, not what we think they are. I know this is sounding a little far fetched, but I’ve always been one for thinking outside the box… stay with me here.
From as long as I can remember, I was made aware of race and colour. My childhood memories of conversations regarding race went something like this:
White children: “Where are you from?”
Me: “My Mum is English and my Dad is from New Zealand – he’s part Maori”
White children: “That’s so cool! Everyone – Ruby’s Dad is from New Zealand!”
Black children: “But what colour are you?”
Me: *I’ve been sarcastic since I was born* “ummm like a yellow colour, I know…. butterscotch colour!” (I loved Angel Delight as a child)
Black children: *Not satisfied with my answer for the inability to categorise it* “but what colour are you?”
Black children: “What colour is your mum?”
Me: “She’s English, white I suppose”
Black children: “What colour is your Dad?”
Black children: “But is he black?”
Me: “No he’s brown”
Black children: “So he’s white then. Why don’t you just say you are white?”
Me: “Because my Dad is brown”
Black children “But he’s not black so he’s white”
Me: “No my dad is brown”
Black children: “Everyone, Ruby is white!”
Me: “OK. I don’t mind ???”
Isn’t it fascinating that it’s only black and white people who consider themselves to be a colour?
You don’t hear a Chinese man saying “As a yellow man, I think…”
Imagine a world without the use of those two words “black” and “white” when referring to people, where instead, everyone said: “I’m English”, “I’m French”, “I’m Ugandan”, “I’m Jamaican/Jamaican decent” etc… I think it would result in a breakdown in the racial divide as it wouldn’t feel like the whole world was split in two, it would feel a lot more fragmented (maybe I’m a little optimistic, but if we don’t have hope and optimism, we are already defeated.)
I’ve also never actually seen someone who is in fact black or white, I’ve seen a black and a white colouring pencil, but not a human.
I don’t have the answers, but it’s an interesting set of ideas – don’t you think?
Words : @TheRubyMaeMoore