A Course in African Studies? Absolutely Not.

There is a thin line between diligent neighborhood surveillance and one that’s racially biased. How do we know the difference? When there is a pattern or trend the answer becomes less complex.

Last year, a guest house owner cancelled a guest’s reservation because she was Asian. Airbnb subsequently banned the guest house owner, fined her $5,000, and forced her to take a class on Asian studies. Donisha Prendergast, the granddaughter of Bob Marley, will sue a California police department after officers mistook her and her friends for burglars, instead of Airbnb guests.

What will be the penalty this time? A class on African studies? Education is an incentive. Not a penalty for making a false and serious accusation. When we say goodbye to our girls as they go off on a fun weekend away, could it be the last goodbye merely because they, apparently, “look” suspicious? What does suspicious look like? What can we do as mothers to prepare them for this possibility? Should they look, act or dress differently to dodge handcuffs,  a bullet or the shame of being surrounded and questioned by police officers? Absolutely not. Should they act discretely to attract as little attention to themselves as possible? Absolutely not. Should they be more selective in where they decide to go on holiday? Absolutely not.

Absolutely not.

They should continue to walk with confidence and awesomeness. They should be themselves. And if by ill fate they became victims, we can only hope and pray that their lives will be spared and their dignity will remain intact. Their experience would become the 101st memo to society that change is well over-due. This change can not come about from a course in Asian or African studies. It will be a psychological and social process of becoming “color-blind”.

MOCCA Mums, any similar experiences when you or your girls have been on holiday? Or do you feel that onlookers, neighbors or police officers are just doing their job?


Photo credit – Trip Advisor