Tag Archives: human rights

Shifting privilege and stopping tanning

As I child, I was acutely aware of the colour of my skin.  I was the only non-white pupil at my school, and although I was only darker by a couple of shades, it was enough for children and adults alike to ask me where I was from or to make comments about my colour.

Growing older and moving into a more mixed area, my awareness of my difference became less acute, but solidified into part of my body-image: I was less beautiful because I was darker.  I began bleaching my facial hair and using make-up to slightly lighten certain areas of skin.  In the summers, I was super-careful about the sun, always wearing factor 60 and staying in the shade.  I even carried an umbrella as a parasol on my walks to and from school.

It was only last year that I realised what bullshit this was, and how I had internalised white beauty norms.  So for the first time I thought, fuck it, brown is beautiful, I’m going to revel in the sun.  Last summer and this summer I have been sitting out in the sun without sun-cream or parasol, enjoying its warmth and rays, and its darkening effect on my skin.

And then couple of days ago, I read about UKBA workers racially profiling, harassing and arresting commuters in London.  And I decided to stop tanning.

I am extremely privileged to have had few experiences of overt racism.  As the current government makes this country more racist, this privilege could be decreasing.  I’m very lucky that if a UKBA worker stopped me, I would probably be carrying ID that confirmed my right to live in this country, and even if I wasn’t, my RP accent would probably convince them to leave me alone.  (I wish I could say that I’d have the confidence to walk away, as is everybody’s legal right, but I’m not sure I would).

My current assessment is that, for me, no amount of brown-pride-self-love would make up for the stress of being stopped by the UKBA.  (And if they’re not afraid of showing overt racism, various police forces probably aren’t far behind). Privilege is not an insult, it is a gift.  It is not something inherent to you, something you’re born with and cannot change: as attitudes and practices change, so does your privilege.  Up or down.  So today is the day I started using sun-cream again.

To make me and any readers feel a bit better, here’s a video of the SBS protest, and a link to the Black Feminists’ petition.

 

Linkpost for BADD 2012

So this is a linkpost for Blogging Against Disablism Day, with a few of my suggestions for temporarily non-disabled readers. (As one, I’m going to shut up and let disabled people do the talking). Disabled readers: feel free to suggest other links I should add, especially if you wrote them.

1) Something to start you thinking about disability and society:
An introduction to the Social Model of Disability, which explains the difference between impairment and disability, and why the latter is about oppression.

2) Building on that article, or for people already familiar with the social model, this longer article applies it and other models to some recent UK politics.

3) Privilege lists are always useful, including this one.

4) I wanted this link to be to something people could actually do – sign a petition, write to their MP/Lord, attend a demo, boycott someone.  I had a quick google and various things came up, e.g. via falseeconomy.org.uk, UKUncut or Avaaz, and there seems to be a quite big/important one called Pat’s Petition, but the link won’t take me through to it at the moment.  But I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel uncomfortable prioritising these over other ones that I probably haven’t heard of – disabled readers, anyone feel like pointing me in the direction of something that needs our attention?

To be continued: I’m going to have a read of what other bloggers have done for BADD, and hopefully make another linkpost.