A true story: The Colour of My Skin

Do you know what is the colour of your skin?
UbuntuFM | What is the colour of your skin?

A black girl once asked me: “Do you know what is the colour of your skin?”

I looked at her and then I looked at my skin; I looked back at her - kinda puzzled - and then I replied:

“What do you mean? The colour of my skin??”

And she repeated:

“What is the colour of your skin? Do you know what is the colour of your skin??"

And I replied while looking at my skin:”Well, uhh, I don’t know… my skin is not white, it’s definitely not black, nor brown… It’s kind of, kind of…I don’t know…"

"What do you think the colour of my skin is??”

She then replied: “We call it pigskin…"

And I looked at her - kinda puzzled - thinking:
”What is she trying to say??…
That I look like a pig??  That I am a pig??”

And I looked at her, but she said nothing…

And then I started to realise, thinking: ”Yes, indeed. The colour of my skin is kinda pink-ish, indeed.” So I replied to her:”Yes, I guess you’re right. The colour of my skin indeed resembles that of pigskin..."

"I've just never given it any thought…”

And I looked at her, but she said nothing…

And I looked back at her again, but she remained silent…

And then something started to dawn on me; I was in my mid 20’s and, 

I had never once given the colour of my skin any thought, whatsoever… 
I had never once been confronted with the colour of my skin…
I had never once been judged over the colour of my skin…

And I realised that at this point our life experiences were very different from each other. She was in her mid 20’s and,

she apparently had given the colour of her skin much thought, she had to…
she had been confronted with the colour of her skin, many times…
she had been judged over the colour of her skin, ever so often…

 

We tend to believe that we live in ‘free’, ‘open’, ‘liberal’, ‘democratic’ and ‘multi-cultural’ societies, but racism is a deeply seated, a deeply rooted evil, that lingers on and manifests itself in ever so subtle ways and unless we are confronted with it, we may have no way of knowing it still exists...

My friend was no racist, she was my friend, but by confronting me with the colour of my skin in this manner, she gave an insight into a matter that she was confronted with, on a daily basis, without me ever knowing or noticing it…

She gave me an insight into her personal life, which I otherwise would not have seen...
She shared with me her experience in a way that I otherwise would not have experienced…

She confronted me without confrontation, without getting into a fight over it...

She was very wise and I am grateful to have been her friend...

Image credit: Alexandr Ivanov

 

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