“I don’t like you because you’re black.” He said to my niece.

Yesterday was the day I have been dreading since my niece’s birth. The day she became the target of overt racial discrimination for the first time. Our vivacious, sweet and innocent babe- only 5-years-old, attended a birthday party, where the white birthday boy said:

“I don’t like you because you’re black.”

My sister (her mother) pulled her aside and asked her to repeat what the little boy said.

“He wants to be my friend?” My niece responded confused, proceeding to play with her other friends from day care.

My sister and niece were the only two people of colour present at the party. Friends of the parents of the birthday boy laughed the statement off, trying to make light of the situation, while the mother employed damage control devices like trying to divert my sister’s attention to the food and drinks. The father of the boy did not say anything, choosing to avoid my sister and my niece for the rest of the day. Noticing my niece did not seem to have understood what had actually happened, my sister decided not to leave the birthday party, as she did not want to have to explain to my niece what had been said to her, and why she could not play with the rest of her actual friends for the rest of the afternoon. Why they had been invited to a party at all by racists is well and truly beyond all of us.

I have experienced racism countless times in Australia, having lived on both the east and west coast. It is something I have accepted will always be part of human existence. As long as history cannot be altered, there will always be those who substantiate the transgressions of the wicked and still preach human rights and civility with blood dripping from their hands. All while simultaneously condemning the ostensible weaknesses of oppressed marginalized groups denied the right to repercussions of slavery, colonization, apartheid, genocide or segregation. Even still, I have maintained that neither white, nor black or anything in between, are inherently good or evil. We choose who we become. Sometimes we are a product of experience, or live our lives around fears or preconceived notions. We hate what has hurt us and we love only that which gives us a dose of euphoria. This is more apparent as we grow and form our own opinions or subscribe to other peoples.

However, ultimately, when we are adults, we make conscious decisions to live our lives in a manner that is indicative of our beliefs and values. We are expected in the eyes of the law to be accountable for our actions and words, because we are old enough and presumably wise enough to discern what is right from what is wrong. Children do not have the luxury of accountability. They repeat what they hear from those who influence them most. What tragedy is this that a child has to learn hate from one they love? Is it not children that have the capacity to love without caution? Is it not through the eyes of a child that one sees angels at the sight of ogres? They will hold the hand of a beast and not know the danger of its jaws, only the warmth of its fur.

“Kisses and Cuddles” by Kagendo Limiri (My sister and my niece)

So my gorgeous, baby niece:

I am so sorry, that all the knowledge I have of race relations, all the rants I have written on the subject, all the times I have cried over a valuation of the black community in our societies eyes, could not render you exempt from such an abhorrent incident. You will have many more, baby, and sadly none of us will be able to shield you from all of them. But know this, I promise to educate you on your constitutional rights, your equal worth as a human being, and remind you that your skin is only ever beautiful. I will do my best to teach you how to love diversity, and celebrate difference, because it makes the world exciting and gives you a bigger canvas to paint on. When your hair is tangled and knotted and you lament the pain and hassle of taming it, I will tell you of the many black women that have struggled with the same problems and much worse, yet still they rise. You will be a black woman in an Australian society that will likely place you on the lowest rung of the ladder, but you are born of a resilient people and your steps upward will not be easy… but they will be- I promise.

Baby, I could never love a world that refuses to learn what it is to love you; to hear the sincerity of your laugh; to know the innocence of your curiosity; to celebrate the splendour of your skin. You are exactly what God intended, and no man with organs that work as yours do, mortal as you are, will ever determine the weight of your worth. Shine, little lady. You are the star we hope will live higher than the skies, the winged beacon we pray a brighter future.

I love you and your mother and I will absolutely, never, ever stop.

Auntie Gendo


Filed under Africa, Politics

16 responses to ““I don’t like you because you’re black.” He said to my niece.

  1. very well said – and your niece will love and thank you for your advice sooner than you think!

  2. Nkatha Mbogori

    The world is unfortunately made up of very ugly people who continue to teach and preach hatred. People like that never make it far in life and will continue looking for ways to fill the void in themselves caused by the rot they fill their minds with. All I can say to such is God help them. Me and mine will continue to flourish in life and soar like the great people we are.
    I shall send our baby to you for lessons on race issues and God help whoever crosses her path with that bull again. We are and will continue to be STRONG BLACK (browns as my little girl says) WOMEN and MEN!

  3. Kudzaishe Chikowe

    powerful words, the last part is not only reassurance for your neice but for all the women who have felt that society has deemed them at the lowest rung of the ladder, empowerment comes from the mind, lets us teach ourselves to be empowered mind, body and soul.

  4. Wanjiru

    I feel so sorry that these babies are taught hate . We can only feel sorry for those with no love in their hearts and don’t even understand or know why they hate the balck race. Stand tall little angel and shine. You are most beautiful!!!!!!

  5. Linnet Gweshe

    Beautiful piece and I pray that all black people could join hands and champion this for all generations. I have 2 daughters, my desire for them is they grow to love themselves just the way God made them. Thank you, keep on with the good work, this is for many other black people out there.

    • K

      Thank you! Hopefully this world will become more accepting of people of colour as we tackle these issues and future generations won’t have to deal with quite so much hatred.

  6. Bee Aschmann

    So sad that in this day and age there are still parents who take no responsibility for what their children say and do! How will those children handle life later? Very badly, I fear. Your little angel will grow up a far better and stronger person as she follows the wonderful example set by you and her Mum and the rest of your wonderful family! Love to you all.

  7. Melissa Fernandes


  8. Uncle T

    Beautifully written.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s