Histories of the black struggle for equality in the World usually concentrate upon male leaders. Admittedly many historians mention Rosa Parks refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, but thereafter Parks disappears and is replaced by Martin Luther King. With this expo we want to highlight the power and beauty of female advocates speaking up against racism.
To make a change we strongly believe that we should never doubt the ability of a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens that can make the difference.
Mother used to tell me « they hate because they know how magical you are »
We all have to guide and educate each other in the fight for justice, justice for the rights of all people whether we are white or black. We can change the world and make it a better place. But it is in our hands of each and one another to make a difference. Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. No, we have to believe that we are the ones we all have been waiting.
By not speaking the truth we might reinforce racism. It can allow us to believe that racism is our normal. Like states before: “No one is born with racism, it is taught.”
It is by doing this together as a unit that we can more focus on the mission against interracial injustice. We are the change that we seek. So isn’t it time to transform the hurt, the pain and the anger into an effective means for change?
The littlest things can already make a big difference. All human beings should be protected despite their color of ethnicity, white lives mattes and black lives matter too.
OLGA / @queenblackpanther on Instagram
I’M 20 YEARS OLD, BORN IN KIGALI RWANDA:
LITTLE PART OF HISTORY
“Histories of the black struggle for equality in the World usually concentrate upon male leaders. Admittedly many historians mention Rosa Parks refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, but thereafter Parks disappears and is replaced by Martin Luther King. In every minority group you have to separate the women struggle at some point. One of the must suffering hated and violated in that category is the black women. In history black women have struggled in the most inhuman ways. This has today tremendously affected how black women are seen by society and how they see themselves.
Black women were the people who struggled in silence cause for them being hurt themselves was Better than to see their children or husbands be violated. And this still follows them until this day as it’s one of the things that give birth to the tropes of “the strong black women”, “the angry black women” and “ the Jezebel”. These three tropes alone can explain how black women are seen in society and see themselves.
The strong black women was born because of the strong black women in history who put all the perseverance and persistence to free their people and lead them, a big example being Harriet Tubman. As it’s had its own positives until this day it also came with a lot of negative consequences, as black women only focused on the rest and put their mental health on the side until this day. The Jezebel trope harmed black women since slavery were they were sexualized in derogatory ways. This was an excuse that a lot of slave owners used to justify the raping of black women. The angry black women being the trope that is used by society the most by society until this day. This trope has affected black women so much that they can’t state their opinion, be outraged or hurt without judgment. With these tropes being held by society for hundreds of years comes the question “ how come that black women haven’t lost their head with all this pressure ?”.
Well to some it all for a long time black women have understood that without picking themselves up and valuing themselves they won’t make it, as this is a positive thing it is also a negative thing. Why can’t we protect or appreciate them? Why is it that they feel like they have themselves and nobody else? How come that until this day millions of little black girls don’t feel beautiful and valued? The answer is simple for years we’ve failed Black women and it’s time to rectify it. By them naturally loving themselves and us loving and appreciating them. Because let’s not forget all the inventions, trends and other things we wouldn’t have without them.”
So what could we do to make a difference:
- More practical tests in schools, on the work floor, on the housing market to see and observe racism. It is known that for example children with a different background will rather be recommended to do another course of study than white children.
- Stronger measures against people who harm people with racism.
- Talking, learning and teaching the children in school more specific about history of what happened in the past and how racism has started. It can all be taught from the school desks.
- Lengthen the concept of black lives matter in the police by suspending police officers, arrest them and let them serve their sentence when they behave from racist motives.
- Organize workshops where people with different background and skin color debate about several topics and also teach eachother about their different background.
ISABELLA / @isabellarosalinaa on Instagram
I’M 24 YEARS OLD, BORN IN THE NETHERLANDS AND THIS IS MY STORY:
“In my past I have always heard people say something about my skin color, my family name, my background, my appearance, etc. or even that I would never succeed in life. They would say mean things like: your lips are to thick, your hair is not professional or good enough, my language or accent is weird, etc. I have experienced people making so many bland racist jokes throughout my life. Sometimes I honestly start to believe that if I was white than I would not be stared at unnecessarily by strangers. Or that I should not have to do my best for everything in life, or feeling less than people who are white of color.
And yes, in the end I have opened my eyes in trying to understand that there are people who will try to bring you down, people who will try to downgrade your potential to grow as a person just because of the color of my skin.
From now on I consider us all as being united and I strongly believe that it is time that we have to stand up, so that our children and every child with a different background should never have to experience the feeling that they are not good enough. Every child should feel like they matter, every child should know”
YAMSI / @nanayamsi on Instagram
I’M 25 YEARS OLD, BORN IN BELGIUM AND I WANT TO SHARE THE FOLLOWING THOUGHT:
“I’m born in Belgium as a mixed race child, mother from Belgium, father from Cameroun as the first generation that came to live here from my Cameroonian family. As an adult and child I’ve experienced racism mainly expressed in micro-aggression, subtle comments and behaviors but also blatant cases.
I feel like my city Antwerp still has a very long way to go, there are so many prejudges and stereotypes about us black people that are still maintained through the older generation but also gets passed to the younger Belgian generation. I don’t feel like it’s okay to just box people and generalize an entire group of people with only bad characteristics. As a child I’ve gotten the ignorant jokes about how my family from my father’s side must be poor since they’re from Africa, or that I can only date someone with my own skin-color, when walking with my mother always getting asked if I’m adopted, I’ve been bullied due to my skin color when I was in kinder garden by older children from elementary school making nasty comments and pushing me (there were very little non-white children in this school). As a teen in the ASO high school I went to for 3 years I’ve been underestimated and stigmatized as not capable of finishing my studies by the student counselor. My enthusiast, extrovert and energetic nature got labeled as “undisciplined, unfocused and disturbing” and they were so discouraging towards me that I’ve followed their advice to change schools. Getting called insulting names due to my skin color has also happened, a lot of ignorant questions, someone touches my curly hair without asking it and asking me if I use shampoo? Like what the fuck. Hearing stupid racist jokes that people expect you to laugh with, but it’s not funny to me it’s insulting and degrading. Older white men fetishizing me because I’m a mixed-race women. Getting stared at angrily for no reason while taking public transport or walking around certain areas and the list goes on and on. But I’ve also been positively discriminated for my skin color and mixed nature mainly in my modeling career which is also not the direction to go. I feel like at some point in Belgium being “mixed race” became a trend, something they could market and make money off but without taking the soul into it, no it is just about the image they want to portray. It needs to look good without caring about our opinions or about how we actually feel. Booking a brown model is not enough, inclusively should go further to also behind the scenes. I’ve often been the only brown model and even person on sets and shootings, the model that is there to prove that there is “diversity” in the campaign for booking just 1 brown (mixed-race) girl. But I’ve had experiences with makeup artist that didn’t know how to do my makeup and make me look beautiful because they never learned to do makeup on non-white skin. Then I’m there looking grey or pink feeling insecure about the look because I know it could be that much better and the white model has her makeup done in a way that is flattering to her, not OK. Hair stylist that tell me I should do my hair myself because they have no idea what to do with my hair as if it were a burden. Situations like these that made me feel so uncomfortable and mainly unwelcome make me realize how ignorant people can be without realizing it and I do not understand that they can be so unwilling to learn about black skin, hair even in creative fields where they work with us. I feel like all of that should change and that we should be given more opportunities in all different sectors since African people in Belgium are of the highest educated group. So why do we still struggle with finding jobs? Simply because they simply won’t let us get in due to engraved degrading beliefs about black people, post-colonial effects that cause subtle and unsubtle discrimination and shutting doors. I personally think that it is important to stop stereotyping people. There are for example people who are still ignorant, don’t want to acquire any insight with so many things that have to do with the black people or people of all colors and ethnicity, in general. One of the reasons is because they have less contact with people of other colors in their daily life or they don’t follow people with another color on social media. There’s also the fact that a lot don’t know that there are more and more people of color who can occupy a higher positions and have the skills and capabilities to do so.
I mainly see myself as having a European strategic mindset that is fueled with warm African values that my father has thought me. Even though I have elements of both cultures and have grown up with European culture mainly I will always be seen here as an African girl, and I think that because there isn’t much eye for the Belgian part in our mix, makes me and a lot of other mixed race friends and family members I have make us identify more strongly with our African heritage. There is more warmth and acceptance in the Belgian black community, even though colourism is a whole different problem that our community also needs to challenge.
To the future there should be more recognition towards black people, also more platforms spread about and for people of color. People with another color could for example educate others through their platform on social media. If we take a look at the Netherlands, they often do debate about controversial topics and the people who take part are people with different kind of perspectives. This ensures people with new views and especially for the people who are not known with people of other races. A positive aspect is that the history of Belgium and Congo is required in the curriculum of schools. But there is still a long road to go.”
LAILA S. / @willemxchris on instagram
I’M 26 YEARS OLD, BORN IN BELGIUM AND THIS IS MY STORY:
“To begin with, I sometimes ask myself: “Where do I belong ?” My dad is a white man – he is half Belgian and half Netherlander- and my mom a beautiful African queen from Benin. So yes, I do share both of their genes and cultures. I’m half white and half black. I’m proud of it, because I share both of their cultures and ethnicity. Throughout the years I have learned to embrace my roots. But at the same time, I’m not white enough for my white people and not black enough for my black people, sad but true.
We live on such a beautiful planet but yet our humanity on our planet is still not as beautiful as the planet we live on. Instead of taking care of each other and respecting one another for who we all are, despite the diversity in colors and cultures, ethnicity the world consists of, we rather destroy it with racism. Instead of fighting for humanity, we’re still fighting against each other. Isn’t this sad and sickening, despite who you are nor where you come from?
We live in the 21st century, yet there are still people who don’t want to acknowledge that there are more and more children born with a variety in ethnicity, colors etc. For example when I’m on the road with my dear 60 years old white dad, some people will think I’m his wife and keep gaping like I’m after his money. Or there are people who will think I’ve been adopted. It’s all possible, but I’m his daughter. But when I’m on the road with my dear black mom, they naturally think I’m her daughter. And now and then there are people who will compliment my mom and say: “Mrs. You have some beautiful black children.” But honestly my mom doesn’t take it as a compliment and will say: “Excuse me, Mr./Mrs. but I’m black, you can call me black, but not my children, my children are not black, they are half black and half white, they are mixed and we should acknowledge their being.” Not everyone who is born white is 100% white, nor everyone who’s born black is 100% black.
There is so much knowledge available, yet a lot of people don’t want to acknowledge it. The question is why and for what cause? Why should people despite of their color, despite of being white nor black still be punished by those who don’t want to acknowledge the beautiful diversity that mother nature created for a reason. Why should the good ones be punished by the bad ones, in general?”
MICHAËLLIE B. / @MICHAELLIE_BEAUTY on instagram
I’M 21 YEARS OLD, BORN IN MOANDA, GABON AND THIS IS MY STORY:
“I see being black in this world as a blessing and a curse. We have so many things available, but yet we still have nothing. In the past white ancestors have stolen from the land of the blacks, used them as slaves and mistreated them. But yet we managed to stay strong. We live in 2020 and I feel like we are still living in the past, nothing has changed for us as it should have. We still have injustice. As long as there is injustice, the world can not be at peace. I am a black Makeup Artist and a student. I am born in Congo (Africa) and I live in Belgium since the age of 5. I’m 21 years old now so basically I’ve lived my whole life here. I have the Belgian nationality, I speak perfectly Dutch and French but there are times that people will say: “Go back to your country’, the question is which country? Should I go back to Congo then ? Congo, a land from which the white ancestors have stolen, have colonized and have used black people as slaves ?
To be honest I am in my country, but yet it doesn’t feel like that because of what happened in the past and because some people tend to forget what happened. In this 21st century we are still trying to spread awareness about what is still happening to black people all around the world. Racism needs to stop otherwise we are not able to continue and move forward. I don’t want my kids to live in a world like this, a world where there’s so much hate and violence. This is why we want to support the movement #BLACK LIVES MATTER with Shushanik Photography, our photographer. We want to share both of our talents into Art and shine a light through Art by telling it with a story behind it. We want to share our experience together with the models. In the hope to make people understand the pain we still endure and at the same time to let you admire our work.”
To finish we all want to thank you for your support and interest.
We are all humans, we’re all the same, there might be a diversity in color, lengths, cultures, mentalities etc. but in the end we are all one. If we can all breath the same air than why can we not stand up as a unit for humanity and make a difference for the future, for peace and solidarity towards on another.