My identity has been a bittersweet journey of discovery. Everyday I’m grateful for the vessel my ancestors have passed down, protected and guided spiritually and physically. I believe that energy and information from the beginning of human existence has been passed down through our melanin/DNA. We are people who transmute negativity by default and that’s what I know in my absolute core.
Society being where it is right now, for me, has been a maze, that I realised in my late teens and early 20’s I’d need to learn to navigate. Especially when I had those moments (moments also known as, basically existing) where I thought dang… I don’t want to think about the structures that make life essentially setup for our people to struggle.
I desire nothing more than to have the ability to move freely in any space, with no doubt in my mind as to why I didn’t get that casting call back or if the reason I’m being asked to be a part of a project is to fill the PoC quota or why I’m not taken seriously when I reply, “Oh, I’m from Sydney”, when people, who are the descendants of the same folk who literally stole and colonised Indigenous land, and who have put a system in place that is still alive, present and built on racism and white supremacy, ask me where I’m “like really, really from?”
The most recent time someone asked me where I was from was at a J Dilla tribute night a few months back. I stayed to watch my homie and producer play his DJ set of Dilla classics. I was sitting down and didn’t quite feel the need to entertain anything or anyone as I was right in the thick of a pretty heartbreaking split from my partner at the time.
So, there I am, minding my own magical black business, allowing the sound vibrations of Slum Village to mend my heartbreak. When a drunken lady sits herself right next to me and asks “Ah, where are you from?” to which I reply “Sydney”, in a voice that was not ready to deal with her ignorance and intoxication in the slightest. “No, no where are you from?”, she insists once again. “Sydney”, I replied once again. “No, no, where are your parents from?” she asks again, because at this point, she’s certain I’m not fully understanding what she’s asking me exactly and has to absolutely clarify. I reply again with “Sydney”.
Now, I had to check in with my mind, body and soul because the petty devil on my shoulder made a very noticeable appearance. What is my responsibility in this situation? I don’t feel as though it should be anyone’s responsibility to police people on their social skills, because by the time you reach adulthood I believe you should’ve worked out how to be a socially and culturally aware human being. But sometimes people who display ignorance need to know, or at least I think they need to know, when they’ve over stepped some personal boundaries. So, I asked her: “Are you asking me why I’m black?” Her response was one that I’ve seen in situations before where it’s an odd combination of black self-determination, but delivered to you by a non-black or brown person. “Yes, well I love black people and you should be proud”, she answered. “OK, thank you”, was my final response and by now the atmosphere in the air was thick and uncomfortable. She seemed a bit unsure about the interaction, so got on up and left.
The cycle is ignorance that knows no consequence or how these questions might be received on the other end. The intent may or may not be malicious but the end result is often not taken into any consideration. I feel a push and pull between not giving anyone the time of day to entertain the bullshit, and being as direct as I can about it. For me, honesty is what helps me sleep at night after encountering these sorts of situations, and if it means I gotta give a Race 101 lesson when I feel it’s necessary, and if I have the emotional, mental and physical energy to do so, then that’s what I will do.
Australia is at an interesting place because it’s so young. I think educating people at every stage of their lives is key, so that in the next few years, as Australia progresses, we have more people from different backgrounds involved in every functioning part especially politics, education, the banking sectors and so on.