2019 challenge feminism lifestyle

Being a Somali In Pro-Black Spaces (302/365)

I’m going to try to not offend anyone but honestly I can’t make any promises because this is personal and based on my actual experiences. It’s also something I don’t feel the most comfortable writing about, but sometimes the truth needs to be spilled and this is something that everyone kind of forgets about.

So sometimes I actually make the effort and socialise or interact and go to events and a lot of the times it’s wonderful, insightful and I learn a lot. I’ve been to a lot of events surrounding Black activism, feminism, South Asian excellence and I enjoy these spaces a lot. Even as an outsider I do genuinely feel like everyone can benefit from learning and watching other cultures celebrate their amazingness. This post is going to focus on my experience around pro-Black spaces because honey it’s a lot.

So incase you didn’t know I’m Somali, which means I’m east African and therefore Black – the thing is a lot of people won’t really see me as Black as there’s this weird exclusion of Somalis when it comes to the notion of Blackness.

I’ve written a post about this but I grew up hearing this phrase a lot:

“You’re not Black, you’re Somali”

Now this is something that still gets thrown around and honestly it’s ridiculous in every single way, but the thing is people still feel it and therefore Other us a lot. I’m not even sure why, I can make a few guesses though since Black identity as a whole tends to refer a lot to West Africans, Afro Caribbean and anyone who looks the part, whereas Somali’s tend to look different, our culture is different and our religion is ultimately different, which leads to a lot of exclusion in these spaces.

I’m sure there’s more to it than this, but as someone who feels excluded I can’t really answer it. I’m also genuinely too afraid to ask the question as the response could lead to a level of ignorance that would make me either angry, uncomfortable, sad or all of the above.

I’m not even sure if people intentionally are aware of the exclusion or if it’s all subconscious bias taking place. People’s ideas of Blackness still have a long way to go, even in activist spaces as there needs to be a general expansion of thought considering that Africa is huge and not every culture looks the same. You can’t sprout pro African ideals and then only cater to a specific section of the continent.

I’m still open to going to these activist spaces purely because I do enjoy them and learn a lot, but do I feel at ‘one with everyone’? – fuck no. I’m aware of my distance from it all and honestly I could try to break through and do more but this requires a level of effort that I’m not always comfortable bringing.

-Obviously I’m aware a lot of the Othering isn’t intentional, just wanted to quickly make that clarification-

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