Category Archives: mental health

Rare Racism topic: Colourism

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951515C8-388F-4C03-9228-2F2A60838E94Colourism could not exist without white supremacy, internalised racism, and the lust for proximity to whiteness.

Colourism often includes the following:

  • Skin bleaching, using products often banned due to their toxicity, but readily available in grocery shops and pharmacies anyway.  Often these products are endorsed by celebrities.
  • Powerful chemicals used on children’s hair to appear straighter.
  • Dark-skinned babies being unwanted/abandoned
  • Descriptive terms once used during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, used by POC in the present day.  ‘Nappy hair’ is just one example.
  • Dark-skinned people who are Jewish or Latina denied their heritage because they’re ‘too dark’.
  • People of Colour with darker skin treated less favourably than white people or those with lighter complexions.  This treatment includes jobs, dating and relationships, systems of law, and victims of crime to name just a few.

Colourism occurs when POCs with lighter skin tones and straighter hair are called “Fair” whilst POC with darker skin tones and/or untreated hair are called N—.  This happened to a relative in my old family who was darker than the rest of us.

Previously-colonised and enslaved countries are often the worst at perpetuating colourism, and it’s often due to the introduction of European/White beauty standards as the only acceptable way to be.  ‘Uglification’ ties into colourism when POC are encouraged to hate their very beings.  Uglification is a concept first introduced to me by Vanessa Rochelle Lewis (@the.ugly.black.woman on Instagram).  Her tag line “Reclaiming our bodies/ freedom from Uglification! Centering our joy, pleasure, expression, and creativity. Exploring the potency of sensuality for Art” fights against colourism, racism and other types of hate directed at POC for being who they are.

Colourism isn’t just how your skin and hair looks, but it often becomes entwined with other forms of oppression like ableism, fatphobia, hatred of disfigurements and classism.

Colourism is cruelty on a global scale.  It’s not just poisoned skin and damaged hair, but toxic attitudes that impact on our mental health, hurting already-vulnerable people.  All of this for a dream that POC will be treated better, go further in life, and be happier because they gain proximity to whiteness in all its forms.

Rare Racism Topics: Targeted Harassment

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People of Colour are often punished or harassed for the same things that white people can and do get away with.  From things like being arrested, imprisoned and ‘mysteriously’ dying in police custody (very U.K specific example), to being targeted for harassment online.  This is a sometimes-subtle way that POC receive racism.  And the further down in people’s estimation we are, the poorer treatment we receive.  I’m going to concentrate mostly on online harassment, although these are often played out offline too.  The more life-ending examples are too painful for me to write about right now.

Example 1: A cisgender man of colour makes a post on social media about fighting racism.  He will get the inevitable pushback and defensiveness from white people, the “what about..?”, the “Not all whites,” and “You’re the real racist,” alongside some other horrible responses blaming him for the situation.  A few days pass and things will mostly die down.

Example 2: An Asian person makes a post on social media about fighting racism.  They will get all of the above, plus accusations of being a terrorist, Islamaphobic slurs (whether they’re Muslim or not), and in some cases they’ll have their photo, if they used one, altered in photoshop so they appear to be carrying an explosive (yes, that’s happened).  Some respondents will send DMs to the poster, with pics of atrocities against Muslim people (I’ve also had that happen to me).  Things will take a very long time to die down.

Example 3: A black woman who is heterosexual and cisgender makes a post on social media about fighting racism.  She will get all of the above two examples, but in much higher numbers.  She will get these reactions from people of all ethnicities and genders.  Her DMs will be full of thinly-veiled, or outright death threats, rape threats, details of personal information that go on to be shared (doxxed).  She will be hounded off social media, live in fear for her life and that of her family &/or friends.  She will receive very little support.  The police (U.K example) will not help unless she is very famous, which isn’t that likely.

Example 4: The most subtle and insidious example is of people who are not often considered human by bigots in the first place.  People like me: Black, nonbinary, fat, disabled and bisexual.  So I’ll use my own personal experience here:

I don’t make a post about racism.  I only press the “Repost” button, or maybe I respond to a post on racism with, “Thank you for this.”  Bigoted people of all ethnicities and genders inundate me with horrible responses, using many of the things in the three examples above.  The original poster does not receive anything near the volume of abuse that I do.  I wonder why this is the case, and then remember that I am open about who I am online.  I have photos and posts about fatness, blackness, gender, disability and bisexuality.  The abusive respondents have taken a few minutes to have a look at my online presence.  I am deemed to be “bottom of the barrel,” or an “Easy target.”  They know, and are often correct, that nobody is going to support me or respond to their public hate.  I also receive sexually violent images and threats in emails outside of the social media platform.  Many people will blame me for my own harassment.  I am told to “Ignore them!” Or “Don’t feed the trolls.”  The original poster will often ignore what is going on in their mentions/replies/comments section.  This has happened to me so many times online and offline too.  Things don’t move on until months or even years have passed by.  I leave social media, or at least leave for a very long time before I return, scared in case anyone still remembers me.

In the first three cases, the original poster will experience stress, worsening mental health, fear, and physical reactions to trauma, whether potential or not.  In the fourth example, people like me, who are often the most vulnerable in society, experience thoughts of suicide, self-harm, alcohol and drug abuse, desperation, and all of the things experienced by the victims of the first three examples.

Racial Harassment is not equal.  Even within minorities there is still a “pecking order.”  Bigoted people of all ethnicities and genders carry out this kind of thing.  So called Progressive people carry out this sort of thing, particularly when it comes to Fatness, especially if that person is fat and black.  It is a soul-destroying thing to be on the receiving end of.  Social media is often the major means of communication for vulnerable people like me.  When we leave, our world becomes infinitely smaller.  More needs to discussed about this.  But for now I just want you to acknowledge it as an often hidden racism topic that is far bigger than it seems.

The Forest Inside me

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This isn’t Epping Forest, but a pic of Muir Woods that I took on my visit to San Francisco in 2013.

Thanks to @DualityDreamers on Instagram for reminding me of this poem, written by several of my Alter Personalities: Forest Jacq, Larry, Munro, Shadoe, and Outside Jacq (me, the host)

This is probably the most open I’ve been about Dissociative Identity Disorder, and it’s no coincidence that this illness is one of the most demonised in mental health (along with Psychosis & Schizophrenia).  Before I was diagnosed with DID, I only knew about it through horror films by its old name (Multiple Personality Disorder).  People with DID are not the evil villains in life – if you want to see that, look at the people who hurt and abused us when we were so young.

Trigger Warnings in the poem: Mentions of child abuse, but nothing graphic or detailed.

The forest inside me