“They are racist”…A patient shouted out

“They are racist”… a patient shouted out.

I love writing and in writing I can express myself better. I felt I should write this story as to draw attention to what some people face in some parts of the world. Some of the stories that I write are alien to other people as they wonder whether the writer wrote a true story or a fictional story. I also remembered when I grew up in Zimbabwe, I read some books, which had some intriguing stories that happened in my neighbouring country, Republic of South Africa; I wondered whether these stories were real or not. The authors were both white and black who highlighted of apartheid, the segregation that went between people of different races, the hierarchy of the colour bar, the torture, the poverty and how thousand of millions of Africans people suffered in their own motherland when the rich, bully, minority ruled over them. The majority died a brutality death, some people were maimed, some were separated from their beloved ones for a long period as injustice took over in their lives and spent three decades in prison, and a good example is of Nelson Mandela, who faced all the criteria of harsh treatment in his life time.

When I moved into Britain, my daily life encountered different challenges, and some incidents begun to bring some ringing bells of the books that I read in the past of some racist incidents, or remarks. There was nothing of illusion of the incidents that I faced, and I realised this was the reality I was living in and the reality of situations that some authors had highlighted and I wondered whether they  were true? One day, in 2006, in Rochdale, I was walking in one of the residential estates and I met a young white boy of five years. The moment he saw he screamed to me and said, “I hate you because you are black.” I was shocked and I never answered him back. I never blamed the child but I thought he might have picked this racist language from the streets or from unruly parents.  Britain is now a country of multicultural diversity. Within this beautiful Island it faces it’s own challenges and some of the challenges are highlighted with my relevant topic.

My friend works in one of the biggest NHS hospitals in Manchester as a nurse. On the other night while she was on duty, a male black patient called out: “They are racist, I want a black nurse to look after me.” He continuously called out and insisted he wanted a black nurse. In the end she was forced to go and attend that patient and offered him with his medical needs but her service to the black male patient was short lived as the nurse in charge decided to send an Asian nurse to attend his needs throughout the night.

“They are racist,” it’s an inclusive expression term but does it mean all whites are racist? My answer is NO. It is prejudice and stereotyping. There are many millions of white people who are good at heart and it is a few who mess up with other people’s lives hence brandishing a good name. At some stage of my life I lived with a white family, professionals, but very humble to earth and helped me in many things that I needed and until today we are still in good books. I have witnessed some white communities where they have helped people who become homeless from people of ethnic minorities, offering them with their own accommodation at their own expense. Some white communities campaigning against harsh treatment that asylum seekers face in this country. Raising the awareness of the disadvantaged minorities. When Zimbabwe was in crisis, some of white people came for night vigils that were held weekly at  the Zimbabwe embassy in London.

In a similar environment where my friend works she also highlighted a similar incident that happened between a black nurse and a white patient. A black nurse attended the needs of the white patient. She offered her with support to lift her up, but soon after the white patient complained of her body being itchy and matters were reported to the seniors. In the end white nurses who happened to take her to the bathroom where she was thoroughly washed,  also attended  to her medical needs.

In an environment like this one would think a patient should welcome any help s(he) is given without bringing any division between the workers which I believe their ethos of the service are the same. Surprisingly these incidences come up unexpectedly hence bringing tension with the organisation. Regardless of this, the medical officers are required to respect the patient’s wishes but in some circumstances it is not always the issue as the black patient was to face the Asian nurse, not the black he called for.

I have been motivated to write this article because of the latest racial abuse incident that took place in Serbia where the local fans chanted abusive racist words towards the black players who were playing at international under English team. Danny Rose, the England defender was racially abused and pelted with stones in the Serbian city of Krusevac at a football match, played on Tuesday the 16th of October 2012. It prompted the English government to call for tough sanctions against Serbia. It is harsh and cruel to torment other people because of their colour skin. I believe people who are racist are ignorant and if they were wise they would understand God uses variation in his creation. In everything He created He saw it good. I understand from bible that God created one race, which is the human race. It’s the rotten human mind that degrades other people and thinks they are not fit for purpose, yet when we are one and united together we can perform wonders.

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Skin Colour Controversy.

English: Tanned arm

English: Tanned arm

“You look so stunningly beautiful, I love the colour of your skin, the tan colour.  Isn’t she looking good? It’s just perfect.” I broadly smiled and nodded in agreement. I love the colour of my skin immensely and I would not change it for anything for I believe the Creator saw it good. I have received thousands of compliments over my skin and mostly from my white colleagues.

Life is a mystery in a way, and my mind drifted back into my motherland, Zimbabwe, where I grew up knowing that majority of the society had preferred lighter skin or fairer skin to darker skin. As I grew up I saw a lot of people attracted to people with light skin. It was much easier for a person who had a fairer skin to have more friends, liked, and gets promoted more easily at work. Whenever a white person came or visited the community, he or she would be easily surrounded by the crowd and get an upper class welcome. White people would be considered well educated and someone to listen to. Most people yearned to be associated with them and saw it as a prestige, that one would boast and tell the world that he or she has a white friend or boss.

I witnessed a number of women in African society using some bleaching cosmetics, and their main goals or objectives were or are still to look lighter or fairer in completion.  Why would one want to bleach the skin? I believe to lure the opposite sex. The opposite sex, the men, and today the statistics still reveals that that majority of them prefer the lighter or fairer skinned girls over the darker ones especially in some black communities. I have witnessed some incidents whereby dark skinned females or women were invariably subjected to unfair and bias negative stereotypes.

I would like to take you, the reader, back into ancient times, straight into the bible and see that tales about the skin and beauty are also biblical and began centuries ago. Therefore we are only passing it on from generation to generation. The Book of Esther Chapter 2 verse 3; Let the king appoint the commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all the beautiful girls into the harem citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let the beauty treatments be given to them. On verse 12, it says: Before a girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. In summary of this story, the King Xerves, was looking for one pleasing girl who would find favour in him after the Queen Vashiti disobeyed him. He wanted to see all beautiful virgin girls and then after the parade he would choose one. The king thought the best way to see their real beauty and was to offer these beautiful girls the beauty therapy for a year. After that treatment he found himself attracted to Esther more than any other beautiful girls. Esther became the Queen.

The skin colour controversy is an idea that has visited me recently and I juggled with it in my mind, it is because of my background where I grew up I saw things from a different angle and came to believe that it’s only the black person who wanted to be white, or prefer much fairer girls but as I grew older and mature the other side of the angle revealed things differently. The path became more exciting to follow and to talk about. Having been in Britain, and living among the whites I saw a revelation that I would probably not have encountered if I remained on the other side of the world. I noticed a world of “tan” around me.

How could it be this? White people loving more the black colour, the tan colour. Some white colleagues openly confessed with their mouth they wish that they had a natural tan colour. If this was their desire what would they do? Thanks to technology, they go sun bathing, and use artificial cosmetics and spray fake tan on themselves. Today in the western countries the tanning is fast growing industry valued at 6 billion pounds.

English: A Sunvision Elite tanning bed switche...

English: A Sunvision Elite tanning bed switched off.

Sun tanning or simply tanning is the process whereby the skin colour is darkened or tanned. The process is most often a result of exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources such as tanning beds or a result of windburn or reflected light. Many people purposely tan their skin by exposure to the sun.

According to olden times tanning like any other stuff you may know has gone in and out of fashion. In western countries before 1920s, tanned skin was associated with lower class people and lower class work, which would have commonly been out door. In those years women even went so far as to put lead-based cosmetics on their skin to artificially whiten their tan. It is believed that even when strictly monitored these cosmetics caused lead poisoning. Achieving a light skinned appearance was achieved in so many ways, such as the use of lightening powders, arsenic to whiten the skin. Other methods were to wear long garments when outdoors and use parasols.  In the western countries the preference for fairer skin continued until the end of the Victorian era.

By the early twentieth century the therapeutic benefits of sunlight products began to be recognised. Vitamin D deficiency was found to be the cause of the rickets disease and other infectious diseases such as aslupus-vulgaris. An exposure to the sun would allow Vitamin D to be produced in person’s body. As a result sun exposure was an antidote curing several diseases especially rickets. In 1910 a scientific voyage went to Tenerife to test the wider benefits of “heliotherapy” and by 1913 Sunbathing is referred to as a prescribed activity for the leisure class

Some drastic changes began to emerge in the 40s as adverts appeared in the women’s magazines, which encouraged sun bathing. At the same time the swimsuits began to reduce in size with the bikini radically changing the swimsuit style after it made its appearance. In the 50s more and more white people began to use baby oil as a method to increase tanning. Man-Tan was the first self tanner but unfortunately the results were undesirable, as it turned orange. In the later years the silver metallic UV reflectors were common to enhance the tan. In  1962 the sunscreen started to be SPF rated. As the years progressed, more and more tanning products were introduced such as tanning lotion and then the appearance of the tanning bed.

The skin colour controversy has a journey in human life, a journey that nobody knows the outcome. The tan, the darker colour was treated less favourably and so many dark skinned people endured the prejudice associated to the skin. A skin of slavery, one that was not entitled to marry to a white man or white woman, one that was not entitled to lead the world, one that was entitled to accept any form of rubbish to be thrown upon it, one that was entitled to hardship, segregation, discrimination and racial abuse in all different parts of the world. How resilient is the colour? That today all the prejudices associated with the skin are simply vanishing but to treat individual according to his or her ability but not by the colour of the skin. The skin colour that makes the majority spend their money just to look tanned just for a minute, a day, a week, months or years.

As an independent beauty consultant I have faced some challenges from my black colleagues whereby a customer would want a much fairer foundation even it does not complement with her skin. In most cases I would go to the basics of beauty and deliver a lesson. Once I delivered it they would began to understand the importance of the skin colour code and that foundation has to look natural on their skin. Preferring a much fairer foundation when you are a little darker might end up looking like a ghost and then you might blame the beauty consultant for not advising you the right colour.

The skin colour controversy is a topic that touches all of us to the core but I believe the Creator was immensely creative. He saw the beauty of different colours, shapes, and sizes that we human beings failed at first to recognise. He cleverly sends this message in all His creations, the trees, the animals, the birds, the mountains, the rivers, the deserts, the seas, and the oceans. Why fighting over the skin? In his Creation he created one race, which is the human beings. Did I send a message to you? Please begin to appreciate the colour of your skin.