Saturday, August 10, 2013

We Are Human Beings... Not Crayons.

Recently, there have been several online articles online describing Oprah’s encounter with racism at an upscale store in Switzerland. For the benefit of those not familiar with what happened, here’s the story: Oprah was at Trois Pommes when a $38,000 Tom Ford crocodile handbag caught her eye. She then asked the shop assistant to view the bag, but to her surprise, the assistant said it was too expensive for her, and being the ‘helpful’ assistant that she was proceeded to show Oprah other bags she could ‘afford’.

Oprah still not satisfied asked the shop assistant to view the Tom Ford bag. Again, the shop assistant insisted the bag was too expensive for her. After her third request and the assistant’s refusal to grant it, Oprah left the store.

Now, I'm not sure I'd have handled the situation as coolly as Oprah did, since the shop assistants attitude was obnoxious and racist.

How can one judge the ability of a person to purchase an item (or their ability to do anything for that matter) based on the amount of melanin in their skin? Skin pigmentation doesn't influence wealth, behavior or intelligence in any way, so it’s surprising that people would make assumptions based on it. For example, in Nigeria, when someone walks into an office they automatically assume the sole non-black person (regardless of their physical appearance) is the boss, and immediately proceed to relay their message. I'm not sure why some people have this mentality, but something tells me that they believe the person should have all the answers by virtue of having a different skin color.

The second example I find slightly sickening as I don't understand why anyone should sheepishly condone gratuitous rudeness by virtue of their race. I’ve noticed, on occasion, some Nigerians being rudely spoken to by foreigners (and by foreigners, I mean non-blacks), and happily swallowing it. I suppose it’s the master-slave mentality that makes them cower in fear or defer to foreigners. However, if a fellow Nigerian or black person were to act or say exactly the same things that were spoken by the foreigner, I promise you there'll be hell to pay. 

Just for the record, I do not brook insolence from anyone regardless of your physiognomy.

Sadly, in Africa and Asia, people have been brainwashed into thinking that validation and acceptance come from looking Caucasian or possessing Caucasian features. Consequently, people are bleaching their skins with harmful chemicals and undergoing surgery to alter the shape of their noses and add folds to their eyelids. But just how far do these alterations actually go to adding value to one’s life? Would they make you any smarter, richer, wiser or more acceptable? My theory is that: If you can't fix what is inside you that’s making you feel inferior, no outward alteration will ever make you feel good about yourself.

We are not the color of our skin, and shouldn’t be judged or treated differently for the amount of melanin our skin produces. Pinning someone’s worth as a human being on the skin color is shallow and dehumanizing. If anything, judgment should be based on the content of one’s character. 

Now, to the shop assistant and to people who think like her, here’s a piece of advice from En Vouge: Free your mind... Be color-blind, don’t be so shallow.