I Dont See Colour And Other Lies

YellowPlumeria
6 min readApr 1, 2024

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Photo by pawel szvmanski on Unsplash

Wait! Before you continue, I hope you know, this is a rant page, and as a doctor-diagnosed inattentive ADHD person (Yes, I finally went in for an evaluation), I have scattered-thoughts and my stories never end how they begin.

So, let’s begin! I hope to stay on track with this pathetic story

  1. I started this story on Dec 19, 2022.
  2. I have 8 other unfinished drafts
  3. I no longer feel strongly about this topic but I am giving love a chance again and decided to complete all my unfinished drafts. Because love makes you do strange things
  4. I still am on the fence about understanding or doing something about racism. I just avoid it these days
  5. If you don’t know, I am Nigerian starting a new life in Portugal. The experience here while trying to make friends, acquaintances, buddies, etc., has been a mix of hits and misses with a sprinkle of depression and a handful of adventure. It doesn’t help that I work for a foreign company remotely. (side note: I should definitely join expats groups and social communities in Lisbon. I just need to get out of my house)

So again, let’s begin the rant!

At first all I saw was white colour but some were really whyte

First, Lets define some terms from my POV

  1. Whyte — mentally believes to be racially superior to black and other races and shows this in a subtle or loud way, sometimes passive aggressive hostility, unfriendly to black, doesn’t want a black person in their space, only knows negative stereotypes about blacks, asks silly questions about wild animals and huts, doesn’t expect black person to be intelligent, extremely slow in speech like addressing a stupid person or child etc.
  2. Black — dark skinned, African, Afro hair, un-westernised, westernised but dark skinned, quiet and darkskinned, loud and darkskinned etc.

Do people of same race really look alike?

The popular saying that all Chinese or Africans look the same by ‘whyte supermacists’ has always been termed as racist. If it is, I apologise in advance. Because, it took me weeks to figure out my class mates from random people. Everyone from Europe or Caucasian appearance looked alike to me besides hair colour and height and later I started getting the difference in accent.

So stay with me,

On getting to Lisbon in Autumn 2022, everyone was ‘white’ to me (not Whyte). Not as a racial issue but I just couldnt recognise faces. I didnt know my professors nor classmates for 2 weeks or more. But I came with a bag full of positive nigerian vibes, pocketful of afrobeats and some dishes I could cook for intending new friends… so, my friendly self jumped into classes eager to bond with classmates. Until I noticed no one intentionally sat near me in a class of 100. Students who walked beside me to the next class didnt want to sit together or get lunch together or bathroom break together. I attended a sip and paint organised by a classmate and out of the 6 people that joined. Only 2 returned my greetings in school the next day. I even began to doubt my mind. Like was this not the guy that shared the MacDonald chicken wings I brought to the sip and paint yesterday? (yea, he was the one, he just ignored me)

After 2 weeks I almost gave up on finding a friend in class cause shit was driving me crazy (while struggling to find an apartment to stay in crazy stressful Lisbon which I wrote about here). For real, it was tough, life was tough! I was working two jobs remotely, trying to understand the new country that speaks little English, while trying to figure out how to start school after 10 years, everything was tough!

But I didnt give up. I sort to help myself, because I struggled to identify individual faces. I took out time to memorise names and attach them to hair colour and walking strides. Sometimes, I recognise shirts, pants, I even took pictures of the class so I could study at home and identify people. It took time, but it worked and I started having classmates that I could talk to, sit beside and ask questions from. My Brazilian coursemate was very helpful too.

The Bright Ray of Sunshine

In my diversity and inclusion class(an elective), an angel in the most beautiful form was my saviour. I noticed Portuguese girl was suddenly so eager to see me on the second class and sat right beside me. Honestly, I just smiled and welcomed her. I couldnt remember her face or name. Until she started asking me questions about something we talked about in the previous class. (she was a godsent) She held on to me for the rest of the semester and we were best of buddies in 2 elective classes (wished she was my coursemate but hey, blessings sometimes come in short doses).

She noticed I was struggling in class and assured me to not take the lack of interest from other classmates to heart because most Europeans are not friendly, especially those from Nordic countries.

So I decided to take each day as a new slate, where I take little doses self assurance and approach new conversations from a lens of I am speaking with a white person who could be whyte, or just not friendly…

I decided not to be too judgey and look out for any sign of acceptance such as a smile, direct invitation (which I eventually got many times for parties, birthdays, beach hangout, lunch, etc.) I look out for inviting smiles, people who acknowledges my presence when necessary, talks to me with no hint of disdain, infantilization, or enthusiasm of seeing a wild creature (didn’t experience this wild enthusiasm tho. But I have heard stories…lol).

We all see colour! Everyone should check on their Bias

Besides having a crush on both my classmate and my beautiful professor of diversity and inclusion, I learnt a very valuable lesson in that class. We are all bias in our thinking and would readily conform to similarities. Its a socially constructed approach to life, maybe first for survival, but over time, we humans have created a net of differences among ourselves that divide us.

In one of my D& Iclasses, we took an implicit association test to check for hidden biases and we realised that it takes a lot of mental effort to let go of some of our learnt biases, especially the unconscious need to connect with similarities in people.

e.g. Gender/Sex — As a woman in a room full of men, I will want to stay by another woman.

Race— As a black person, I will search for black faces in an art gallery in some little town in North of Portugal.

Age — As a young person, I will gravitate towards another young person in a room of elders.

Others — everything that could be distinct about us like hair, clothes, style, food etc., I wear my hair in natural dreadlocks so that is also a distinct feature I will seek out… the list goes on.

Here is the test anyone can take it to confirm their bias based on race, religion, lifestyle, age, etc. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

People who say they are not racists cause they dont see colour need help

We all see colour. We either make decisions based on the stereotypes learned or we let our civilised, educated brains help us be neutral when the stakes are urgent or high!

TAKE THE TEST, CHECK YOUR BIAS, AND MAKE EFFORT TO DO BETTER!

Phew! Welcome to my Tedtalk (nah more like TedRant).

Phew! I finished one of the 9 drafts at 2 tries. Hurrraaaay!

P.S. I decided to write this on a Monday morning, instead of writing a PR article for work. Life of an ADHD-diagnosed creative(yea, I am diagnosed now) who is trying to push through mental writers block.
And yes, you can read about my annoying life of procrastination, laziness, inattentive existence here — The Next Person That Describes Laziness As ADHD Should Get A Slap

Let me run back to work…(hopefully)

This is the diary of an #unusualhuman searching for thrills until the bliss of nothingness drags her beyond this consciousness. She feels, she bleeds, she heals, she feels again.

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