I had looked forward to my flight to Toronto,Canada with glee,my first intercontinental flight from Africa on a tour of duty.
But in a sea of white men and women,i realised that i was no more than an object of curiosity and ridicule,like a long forgotten relic from pre-primate Africa.
Every time I sit on a crowded street car, bus, or
subway train in Toronto, I know I will have an
empty seat next to me.
It’s like a broken record.
Sometimes I don’t mind having the extra space,
but other times I feel awkward, uncomfortable, and
I know I have good hygiene, I dress appropriately,
and I mind my own business.
However, recently, I
finally became cognizant of why people might fear
being around me or in close proximity to me: I am a
Although Canadian society presents
the façade of multiculturalism the truth is Canada
has a serious problem with the issue of race.
I didn’t realize it until a black sister said to me:
Ben, people are afraid of you. You are a six-
foot tall black man with broad shoulders!
That sister is right, people don’t sit next to me on the
street car, the subway or on the bus because they
The issue of black self-hatred is something I am
supposed to pretend does not exist.
great French psychiatrist Frantz Fanon wrote about
this issue in his groundbreaking book Black Skin
White Masks, in a chapter called “the Lived
Experience of the Black Man”.
According to Fanon,
the black man is viewed in the third person, and he
isn’t seen as a three-dimensional human being.
The way a black man internalizes the perspectives of white
society and its negative thoughts about blackness certainly
affects his psyche.
In the chapter, Fanon discusses a
white child calling him the “N word” and how he
becomes cognizant of how he is different and
viewed as someone people should fear.
There is also a fear by some black people that
discussing the issue of self-hatred is a sign of
There is a discourse that black people
engender: that black is beautiful.
But the truth is,
the image of blackness is ugly –or at least it’s
perceived that way by the rest of human race which is not black.
There is nothing special or
wonderful about being a black male in a white or oriental society – it is a life of
misery and shame.
The issue of black self-hatred is usually depicted
from a female point of view.
documentaries such as Dark Girls which aired on
Oprah’s OWN network earlier this year, in which
black women discuss their feelings of self hatred
for having dark skin.
There are numerous books,
articles, documentaries, and essays published by
black female writers describing black self-hatred.
Black women are not afraid to speak out about
their self-loathing, yet for some reason, black men
are silent about our own contempt for what we are.
A lot of black men don’t want to acknowledge the
feelings of disgust we have for ourselves.
considered emasculating to even admit the
existence of such thoughts.
I think my own self-
hatred manifests from the exterior, from the
It is born out of the despair and the
unhappiness I see within a lot of young black men.
I cannot honestly say I hate being a black male.
Although black people like to wax poetic about
loving their label I hate “being black”. I just don’t fit
into a neat category of the stereotypical views
people have of black men.
In popular culture black
men are recognized in three areas: sports, crime,
I hate rap music, I hate most
sports, and I like listening to rock music such as PJ
Harvey, Morrissey, and Tracy Chapman.
nothing in common with the archetypes about the
There is so much negativity and criminal suspicion
associated with being a black male in Toronto.
don’t have a criminal record, and I certainly don’t
associate with criminals.
In fact, I abhor violence,
and I resent being compared to young black males
(or young people of any race) who are lazy, not
disciplined, or delinquent.
Usually, when black
male youth are discussed in Toronto, it is about
something going wrong.
Honestly, who would want to be black?
want people to be terrified of you and not want to
sit next to you on public transportation?
Who would want to have this dark skin, broad nose,
large thick lips, and wake up in the morning being
despised by the rest of the world?
A lot of the time I feel like my skin color is like my
personal prison, something that I have no control
over, for I am judged just because of the way I look.
Not discussing the issue doesn’t mean it is going to
In fact, by ignoring the issue, it simply
lurks underneath the surface.
I believe a dialogue
about self-hatred should be brought to the fore in
the public sphere, so that some sort of healing and
the development of true non-label-based pride can
Of course, I do not want to have these feelings, to
have these dark thoughts about being a black man.
However, I cannot deny that this is the way I feel.
I don’t want to be ashamed of being a black man; I
just want to be treated as an individual based on
the content of my character, and not just based on
the colour of my skin.
Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….