Updated: Jun 4, 2020
"I will get there so that God can show the world that everything they despised, everything they thought worthless and foolish, He will show them that He is the one that makes great."
This week seems to have brought a lot of things to light that has been our norm for generations. We’ve never felt, or I’ve never felt like I could talk about it to my white friends because it wasn’t their fault; right. I don’t want to make them feel guilty or awkward; right. Why would I want to kill the vibe; right?
If you are someone who knows me and you want to know me, then get to know me. This how I think, I feel about the colour of my skin. When I was growing up in Ghana, I didn’t know I was black. I never even considered the colour of my skin or my hair type or texture because we all looked the same. I mean some people were darker or lighter, and people gave some preferential treatment as a result, but that’s a whole other issue. For the most part, it was going to school, eating spring rolls with my brother, and playing as any child would. At age 5 we moved to England and everything changed. I noticed I was different. I noticed I was black. Not just the fact that our English sounded different, but it was the hair, the skin, the culture, everything was different. I was the only black girl in the school we settled in and I desperately wanted to fit in. I quickly picked up the slang, changed my accent, tried to be like the other girls in my class. Even with the hairstyles my mum used to do, I wanted a ponytail and pigtails that hanged, just like the other girls. Even at that young age I had an inferiority complex, where I thought I was less than others in my class. The only thing I could really boast in was in my intellect, so I did. I tried my best in everything I did, pushed my-self so that I would feel good enough. Growing up we heard the cries of our immigrant parents, aunties and uncles, who worked menial jobs to serve the society and their families, only to be met with abuse and diminished opportunities. It was drilled into us that we would have to work for what we wanted. This is what we carry, that what may be easy for our white counterparts, may only be a dream to us. This can do one of two things; where you settle and think "what the point of even trying?". Or you push, and you work, and you push through a system, that isn’t necessarily set up for you to succeed in.
I have had the amazing privilege to meet and have relationships with people from all around the world. I went to University in a place that had like 0 black people. I became the black ambassador, introducing people to braids, weaves and creaming your skin. I don’t know, it felt like everything I did was a fascination to those I was interacting with. Granted for many people, maybe, I was their first interaction with a black person. It seems crazy, but the UK is not as diverse as we think. If you’re not from one of the major cities then, we do not exist there. To be honest, it was probably the hair changes that threw people off.
“ooooh Lisa, your hair looks a little different to what it did last week’
My reply “yes I got it braided”
“ooooh how long did it take for you to get that done”
My reply would be “oh just around 3 hours”
“3 hours….wow that’s such a long time”
Yeah, the hair change didn’t help (insert laughter). I don’t want to be a person of fascination anymore. I mean, not for those reasons anyway. I am an educated black woman, who loves Jesus. Yes, I like the same foods as you, yes I watch films and do the same things that you do. There is nothing fascinating about that. It is normal. Just to reiterate, black people are just like you. Live, work, sleep, eat, breath, laugh, hurt, hope, dream…just like you do.
The only difference is the fact that we carry hurt. We carry the hurt and the pain from generations past and of the injustice that has been set against us. Our wounds are reopened again with everything going on. When will this stop? Have they not learned? It’s so bad that it marred our psyche, and identity, the way we see ourselves, always trying to fight, always trying to prove, always trying to cover ourselves, always trying. And to be honest I am tried. I am tired. I am tired of looking over my shoulder. I am tired of walking in certain neighbourhoods and being stared at (yes this still happens). I am tired of trying to justify my existence and the existence of my people. So I’ll just pause for a bit.
Right, I’m back again. I am tired of speaking to black kids in inner-city schools who think not being aggressive, or not being angry, or not being smart, is not being black. You may think that this is a bit extreme. No, it's not, when all you’ve seen and known is deprivation and oppression. You don’t know another way. I was told that I wasn’t black enough because I didn’t fit that stereotype. How immensely silly is that!!!
"I will get there so that God can show the world that everything they despised, everything they thought worthless and foolish, He will show them that He is the one that makes great"
I made a decision in high school, not to be held back by black stereotypes, from my black brothers and sisters, or the white systems set to drag me down. I was not going to hate being black anymore or hate those agreed with the oppressors. I was going to push through in Jesus name. I knew, and I know who God has made me to be. God made me on purpose, for a purpose, that was so much greater than the colour of my skin. The colour of my skin was not and will not stop me from getting to where I am going. I will get to the mountain top being Lisa Collins-Brown, the small, black girl from a deprived and historically racist Moston. I will be the woman born in Ghana, where the transatlantic slave trade and colonial rule ripped through our great nation. I will get to the mountain top with my kinky afro hair which wrestles with me come wash day. I will get there with my ashy skin, and by big lips and my broad nose. I will get there so that God can show the world that everything they despised, everything they thought worthless and foolish, He will show them that He is the one that makes great. Not the names they give us or the things they use to oppress us, but it is in the name He gives, the name of Jesus.
“We are just 4 girls in a pub of locals if someone was to attack me, who would defend me”. I don’t ever want to feel this way again.
I went for a walk in Rothbury with girls I call my sisters, they are as white as anything. After a 3 hour walk, we got a bit lost and a bit hungry. We went down to get some lunch in the local village pub, close the where we had walked. I had not been this afraid in a long time. I walked in and no one looked like me. I remember thinking “We are just 4 girls in a pub of locals if someone was to attack me, who would defend me”. I don’t ever want to feel this way again.
If you are reading this and you want to do something, then do something. You have a voice and a choice to make. You can either stand with us, stand against us or stand idle. History has thought us so many things, we do not need to make the same mistakes. Let's allow the future generations to look back on a different history. Can you image, 'a people united who stood against oppression'. How amazing would it be to read this in the history books or in the AQA history papers of future GCSE's?
Please pray and lets us educate ourselves on what has happened and what is going on. Let's not be blind to any form of injustice. Let us be intentional with our actions and words today as we look to the future with hope.
See you on the next post.