As she takes the picture
She asks: What kind of black man are you?
Me (eager to give a rant about my belief that to use the prefix ‘black’ to tag someone is a misnomer from ignorance, I chose the inquisitive route and asked): What do you mean?
She: Well, I don’t know a ‘Blackman’ that looks, moves, and talks the way you do.
The compliment made me blush. Usually, when I get compliments about my uniqueness, I am quick to retort because “I am FISAYO, Olajide Fisayo.” But, for some reason, I remembered my mum’s advice, “Fisayo, try to stay humble and kind, it gives you more options to respond than react.” Then I responded
Me: Oh, yes, that. But my meaning is more backed by reason, rather than trends on social media or the news.
She: What do you mean?
Me: Well, for one, when our creator, God, sent us to earth, we came as babies, ignorant and helpless. And transiting from our ignorance and helplessness, we had to learn words that were prevalent in the era we were born. And the world black as a prefix to describe someone is the ignorance common in the age we are born.
She: Hmmmm, well said like a philosopher priest…
Me (interjects): I am no priest, but I do fancy myself as a philosopher at times.
She (smiles): Okay. While I understand what you’re saying, are you going to deny the existence of systemic rac…
Me (interjects): Make no error. Please don’t misconstrue my words to think that I claim that the adverse effects systemic stereotypes don’t exist or are unreal.
She: Then help me not misconstrue your words. How do you expect our actions to be beyond the knowledge we inherited in the age we are born?
Me: Wow, you ask me like I have all the answers!
She: C’mon, you know what I mean.
Me: No, I honestly don’t.
She: Well, you said earlier that our use of the ‘black’ prefix to describe someone is due to the ignorance of the upbringing in our time. So my question is: How do we, no! Let me make it personal, how do I dispel that ignorance in me? I proudly call myself a black woman.
Me: Hmm, that’s a profound question.
She: Well, since I know you, the more difficult the task, the more attractive you find it. (she winks at me.)
Me (looking to the sky, thinking): Well, for one, it’s a personal choice you must make. From experience, I see it depends on your choice to shake off the ignorance in your upbringing and education in your time. And, after that comes the hard work of self-educating your ignorance, which our human nature shirks from doing.
She: Okay, I see you’re checking your time. I wouldn’t want you to arrive late for your appointment. So here’s my last question, do you have an example other than yourself, of someone who shook off the ignorance in their upbringing in the era the person was born?
Me: Well, it will be easy for me to name the names of Nelson Mandela, Hellen Keller, and Rosa Parks. Their tales will not pertain to our time. So I will only call Les Brown – research more about his story. And, I will leave you with one of his favorite quotes:
“Never let someone’s opinion of you become your reality.”