” Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me. ” (Zora Neale Hurston)

I see the rush to implement ‘diversity’ for companies and people to look good and let’s be honest people from minorities cashing in on the cash it brings and selling inauthentic stories proclaiming entitlement. I do love the authentic stories about due diligence. Yet let’s not pretend half the people who make these tokenised spaces are severely handicapped morally, sometimes ill-equipped, and have just capitalised and found a shrewd way to get money and a position undeserved. 

Equality and representation matters but at what cost. It’s costing those who deserve the spaces to be overlooked for con men or women who know how to play the system and be uncle Tom’s and Auntie Thumbelina’s. A marvellous example is the Black  Lives Matter Founder Patrisse Cullours, who hasn’t spent the money on black projects but on climbing up the social and wealth ladder. My fear is as many black people go on a ridiculous journey to prove themselves worthy for people not to discriminate against them  they lose what the civil rights protestors wanted for them all along. For them to feel confident in their skin and live abundantly.

I don’t have role models but there is a story about a poor, disenfranchised, undedicated, voodoo priestess and author which I have always felt was extremely touching. Zora Neale Hurston, the woman who came before Alice Walker, a pioneer for civil rights who refused to be angry, and limp around her whole life talking about the ills and unfairness of racism. Instead she lived her life as an example of black excellence. This poor woman who had no role models, no background and no education, as well as no respect given to her in society managed to cultivate a sense of dignity for her own self and an admirable confidence.

” Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me. “She was totally unbothered by racists and didn’t write boring soulless books filled with legalism on why there should be a Utopia of no Racism. We all know discrimination will never end and that’s why it’s laws that are needed which work that can stop racism from stop potential.

She wrote books that challenged racism and challenged black people to stand up, believe in themselves and not look for outside approval. As well as not spend their lives whinging about racism, or figuring out how to be the creme de le creme in the social system regardless of their race or be demoralised by quiet frankly ridiculous people. Now if someone called me a racist slur I would report them but I wouldn’t let their stupidity be my burden, I may even laugh at their ridiculousness. I don’t give a damn what a racist thinks about me. I would rather take actions to empower myself and change the system so it’s fairer. That is more powerful than losing sleep over things that won’t change without  action.

If the civil right movements were about moaning and waiting for representation, or people to like people. Slavery, segregation and colonialism would have never stopped. Zora Neale Hurston reminds us it’s possible to live fully, expand your full potential with dignity, create change and not give a damn about a racist or what a racist or any other abusive ridiculous person thinks about you. After all what you should know is that you are fabulous company. 

What this new system of faux ‘wokeness'( real enlightenment) can never be wrong and undeserved praise and positions have created are low self esteem and people who know they don’t deserve what they have got but somehow try to convince themselves that the scales of justice are on their side and it’s just the imposter syndrome.

We also have people feeling even worse about themselves due to them focusing on racists rather than how wonderful they are or could be. Of course equality and diversity is needed but equality of opportunity and not outcome is the way to go. Let’s not deceive ourselves that the best black people for jobs and positions, who are not bending down to the status quo are still not pushed to the side.

 It’s a marvellous thing to see people who are brilliant succeed like Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Bosman and Lupita Nyongo succeed because it’s well deserved and there’s no denying it. If they did not get their  glory it would be down to race. It’s a totally different thing to see someone undeserving hold a position because they played the pity and representation card to get it. 

“Some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships. ” (Zora Neale Hurston)  In Zora’s time there were other writers some not as  good with more fame, some could even pass for white and enjoy the wealth and privilege that brought, yet all some could do was moan and be angry about who they could be without Racism. Zora Neale Hurston on the other hand decided she could be who she wanted to be.

That’s my wish for you this Black History Month, to believe in yourself and know the world is your Oyster and to be black and proud.

Author: Akosua Darko


London, UK