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People Of Color Do That Too
Stereotype Elimination And Awareness
There is a thin line between stereotyping and bringing awareness in a bid to have people look into themselves and ensure that they are not missing out or being boxed into expected spaces or even mental slavery. I am fortunate to be from an educated black family where life is celebrated and full potential is constantly sought. I am also fortunate enough to have grown believing that it was the norm for people to want to aspire for and achieve the best, especially since we were raised in a poor family and volatile community, much to our discomfort or disadvantage at times.
My Culture Shock Experience
When I started traveling, it was a culture shock for me to discover that people (colored and white alike) from these great ‘first world’ nations had sub-standard education and that there was extreme poverty in developed countries (yes, I was very young). The good thing about my ‘discovery’ is that it further opened my eyes to see that some people choose to fail regardless of skin color; while circumstances and geographical location (or skin color) do not define you. It was also heart-warming to see people living as true royalty in African countries.
We Do Live Life Abundantly Too
Notwithstanding, I still feel led to write about the fact that while black people might not entertain themselves in the same way as whites do; there are many of us who simply live life more abundantly and capitalize on educational opportunities. We are therefore making strides in the field of education and in a bid to be seen as humans, full stop. Publication and invention are also on our list of accomplishments, because the fact is: black people DO read, even if sometimes it is different formats or content than what others read...sometimes!
I Can't Swim, I Continue To Try
Growing up, I was sent to swimming lessons. Yes it was a pool filled with black children at a local college, now University of Technology, Jamaica. At that age, there weren’t many white folks around to enrol in the classes. I am now wondering if that’s because those who were around had their own backyard pools. Can I swim? Nah! But I can probably help myself, tread and glide. The feel of water in my nostrils probably traumatized me as a child...or as an adult! Maybe I am not in the water often enough as I did catch on once, breathing and all. I guess it is not like riding a bicycle. I have, however, ensured that my children get sufficient exposure to swimming and am proud to say that the older of the two is a pro. Yup! People of color do that too.
Stereotypes And Rules
We also went hiking, which was introduced to me by a then church-brother turned boyfriend. We were a part of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and for the first time today, I am learning that the particular denomination is a ‘white denomination’. I am smiling at the very thought even as I write this; I don’t know how that could have missed me. Needless to say, while I loved the Adventist church dearly, some rules were a bit too much for me and didn’t seem biblically based or applicable, depending on one’s climatic conditions, country of residence or culture, among other things.
Theme Parks Are A Big Deal For Us...But!
We went to theme parks as youngsters and I longed to someday go to a ‘real’ theme park as the local ones were nothing compared to the likes of Disney World and Six Flags. I am yet to reach Disney World, but Six Flags will do for now. Not only did we go to Six Flags, we dared the rides that might not seem such a wise thing to dare; you know, the types which life-loving black people wouldn’t be caught dead trying out. The big news I guess is the fact that many other people of color were there too. Pity I didn't know I needed to get pics as I don't see color.
Endless Activities, Endless Possibilities
But then we also did a lot of other things which include kayaking, glass-bottom boat riding, parasailing, five-star hotel hopping, fancy restaurant dining and picnicking. All this seemed pretty standard to me until now. Let’s hope trips to the zoo are expected. I intend to travel the world as soon as the resources become available, but in the meantime, I will jump in my car and travel the fourteen parishes of Jamaica. I shudder at the thought that people who do not have this passion have race or color in common.
Art Lovers Included: Dunns River Falls
Photographer And Education Required
One of the things I am now realizing is that sometimes when you are having way too much fun, you forget to capture the moment...well at least I do. But then, there is also the other side to the stereotypes which I want to address. It is one thing to believe that we are not entertaining ourselves enough outdoors, but what about our education?
Defying The Odds; Rising To The Occasion
Where I am from, guns often bark in the streets and girls often drop out of school prematurely because of pregnancy. However, I always tell people that of the four houses which comprised a lane where I lived; at least two persons in every household attended university and graduated with honours. In fact, some are now published authors, including my mother; while my aunt has gone on to complete her PhD for which she should have graduated this year. She also has publications in overseas medical journals.
Success And Endurance
My aunt has visited Alaska for the sheer joy of seeing avalanches, glaciers and igloos. My neighbour has studied in Cuba and since returned, fluently bilingual. My neighbour’s mom formerly owned a corner shop/store and subsequently returned to school to further her education. She is completing a Masters overseas. Likewise, my sister’s cousin has recently left for Ukraine, where she is pursuing a medical degree. Needless to say these are all people of color.
Education Is The Key
I say all this not to boast, but to say that this was my norm and still is. Likewise, black people and by extension poor people as well as those of us grown in volatile communities are beating the odds; stereotypes simply do not hold true for us. Notwithstanding, there definitely is a problem within the black community and others need to know that there is usually a way out of the quagmire, for which education is a certain stepping stone.
Do It Yourself: The Challenge
My DIY challenge is therefore for those among us who feel boxed into these situations to first and foremost ensure that our education and that of our siblings and offspring is addressed as soon as possible. Help your children with homework, maintain a strong relationship with teachers and a presence at the school; buy them educational toys as primary gifts and other toys as secondary gifts.
Plan, Explore And Put Children First
You also need to believe in yourself and your children no matter what, and love your children. Likewise, find different ways and means to enjoy the outdoors and unusual places or activities with your children and your family. If something seems a bit far-fetched, save towards it. If it is just once a year that you can afford the activity, it is better than none at all. Likewise, always try to take your kids for once in a lifetime opportunities and rare treats.