I have a gift that’s shared by many people in the public eye. With this gift, when people look at me funny or ridicule me because they disagree with my opinion, I shake it off and keep moving. Sometimes, their reactions even amuse me.
The transition from victimized to empowered happened at some point during my teenage years. I got sick of being “the black one” or “the fat one” or “the sicky sicky one.” I became tired of the labels and the judgement from outsiders defining who I was supposed to be, and instead decided I would create my own narrative. After I made the decision, it wasn’t difficult at all.
As communities go, I wish it were that simple. In the western world, white people have decided that they’re going to be the upper class and the bosses of everything. A handful of individuals from the black and Muslim communities have bucked that theory but by and large we accept it.
Mass shootings in the US are typically perpetrated by young white men but we choose the one carried out by two Muslims as reason to continue to throw shade at all Muslims. And then instead of finding ways to stand up and change the narrative, most Muslim Americans seem to be taking the victim position – “oh but it wasn’t MY fault”!
In the black communities, we’re stereotyped, called no-good gangsters and thugs. And of course many of us take no part in that. But in our own minds we distance ourselves from those who do, then complain when we get lumped into that narrative by everyone else.
White people, as long as the bigots and racists are the ones that speak loudest as if it’s their right to oppress everyone else in the name of God, there’ll always be a group of angry black people and war-mongering Muslims ready to call them out.
The change in our communities is going to have to start with change in our individual selves, and the courage to hold each other accountable for the narrative we want to be defined by.
Calibe Thompson is the Executive Producer of television series “Taste the Islands” and “Island Origins”. Join her and producer Lukkee Chong for a discussion during “Destination Fridays – Jamaica” at the African American Research Library on Friday, February 5 at 6:30PM.