Racism Rant: My life in Uganda

Average reading time: 5 minutes

I recently read an article (a few weeks ago now) on how Jada Pinkett is beyond upset that African-American actors were not selected for the Academy Award nominations and how she plans to boycott this year’s show because of it. Janet Hubert was miffed by her comment, saying that she already gets the limelight…yada yada. Read the article for the entire scoop. I chose this story as an intro because it’s relevant in two ways: It is a current story in the media and someone commented in one of those tabloid websites that we as black people are always trying to pull the infamous “race card.” Hmmmmm.

jada and janet.png

Now, I was indifferent about the comment because I like to see black actors/actresses and anything else black for that matter celebrated and portrayed in a positive light, unlike so many other stories you hear that have such a negative impact on our communities. Take the issue with Bill Cosby, for example. Need I say more?  So, knowing all of the different ways blacks deal with racism, including affluent blacks, such as Cosby, Pinkett and  people like me, your average Jane, it’s dispiriting, especially in the wake of MLK day. Although I’m not in the States, I’m still affected and exposed to racism daily. Yes, daily. I choose to ignore some of the hype but for the rest, it becomes a constant reminder that people will never change their ignorant mentalities. Now, call me gullible but I thought that moving to Africa would somehow lessen the chance of me pulling out the race card…not at all…

race card

The scenario…

The other day, a Ugandan teacher told me that a few years back, a parent refused to place her child in her classroom simply because she was black. No other explanation was given other than the fact that her skin color didn’t meet her qualifications. It was assumed that because she is black, her competency level wasn’t sufficient enough to educate their child. To make matters worse, the administration tolerated this insensitivity and didn’t reinforce the moral credibility of the school by defending the fact that it is indeed an international community with children, teachers and staff from all over the world.

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Let’s fast forward to a few days ago, same school, different parent. This time it is a white South African mom. Now, my name somehow gets thrown into the mix…and I don’t even teach her child!!! Shocker! Get this- The parent is telling the other playground moms that the black teachers, whether Ugandan or African-American, don’t know what they are doing and that our credentials and qualifications are questionable. I am not one to shame the opinions of others because I definitely know I have mine, however, it becomes controversial when a person carelessly drags your name through the mud shamelessly without coming to you face-to face to discuss the presumed matters at hand. Now, in her opinion, the other teachers, which are white and British, obviously are perfect without any flaws since their names weren’t haphazardly dragged through the mud.  I’ll keep my thoughts to myself on that one because I’ll be counterproductive in elevating myself past this situation if I went tit for tat regarding this issue.

Unfortunately, there is another parent in my classroom who insists on challenging me daily by indirectly questioning my educational qualifications and ability to teach her child due to her constant probing mechanisms. This parent is another rumor starter. She hasn’t asked for her son to be removed from my class but has damn near questioned everything I teach, consider or suggest to her. Lady, if you want to do my job, go back to school or take him to a teacher who you feel is more “appropriate” for you and your son. However, what I won’t allow her to do is continuously discredit me and disrespect me as a teacher. Nuff said! She is from India and has only lived in Uganda for a year, therefore, she hasn’t been exposed to many different cultures. No. I am not giving her the benefit of the doubt but more so stating her demographics as a point of reference for you to understand the dynamics of the situation. Some of the Europeans, Indians, Asians and the non-African influenced people, consider Africa to be the war torn, poverty stricken, God “help the children”-type continent. So, for some, that mentality still exists here. Indirectly or directly, they demonstrate their lack of cultural awareness and flexibility to adjust to the progressive norms of the Ugandan society or any other African country, for that matter. Again, I credit her overly compulsive behavior and meticulous scrutiny to the fact that I’m…black. Oh, dear Gah, look at me pulling that old race card again!

 What I don’t understand is…

How can these people, with their discriminatory limitations, manage to live in Africa comfortably? This is one of my pet peeves- When foreigners come to a new place and try to change “IT”, the people and the culture. When they fail at that attempt, they identify it as being a problem.

The children are being taught that…

This is ok. The saddest part is that these mentalities and behaviors will be passed down to their children. I’ve already seen it happen in my classrooms: White children tend to play with whites and blacks with blacks. I admire international schools and the parents who decide to send their children to these institutions. Why be unproductive in the globalization of our societies by continuously reinforcing the same derogatory madness!

What perplexes me the most is that someone moves to an African country and somehow expects to bypass having a black teacher?!?!. If this is the case, try Russia, Finland or some other place where black skin is not celebrated and widely seen. I often wonder if these same theories are apparent in other situations for them. Do they prefer a Chinese store over a Ugandan one? What about an Indian restaurant? White American supplier? Again, if you want to separate yourself from the culture in Uganda and not identify with at least some aspects of it, I feel that it’s simply not for you.  This is one of the reasons why I showcase positive aspects of my experiences here. However, I’ve had my share of negative experiences with Uganda. Check out some of my other annoyances with Africa. This will make you laugh!

Let’s get something straight folks: Ugandans are…

NOT budging. Those mentalities cannot and will not continue to eradicate neither the judgment of the Ugandan people nor other nationalities of color that are represented here, such as myself. I feel that Uganda is doing well in the sense of making innovative moves both nationally and internationally. Ideally, it’s still considered a developing country, however, the thing that most resonates with me is the pride of Ugandans. I truly appreciate their cultural values, happiness and peace, which can be seen in their smiles and productivity. I wish people would keep their racist and colonized mentalities to their selves and not inundate a place with so much life, character and pride. Uganda is absolutely amazing and truly one of God’s perfect wonders. Ugandans are blessed to call this place home. I had no idea a year ago that I would have the opportunity to be here and marvel in its glory. Africa is not what the media portrays.

I still feel like the colonized…

Mindset is still in full effect in some people and that there is a  lack of appreciation for cultural awareness, sensitivities and educational values. How are you going to move to Africa, albeit for work, school-whatever and exhibit that kind of hate for the people of the nation? This is not for the masses; my friends so don’t get it twisted. I am speaking to the ones who are still in that unrealistic mental quandary. Where would the world be if we all tried to make peace instead of inflicting our own ignornances, unawareness and opinionated believes into everything? I’m just saying. We have got to do better at setting good examples in our own families and representing positive aspects, especially in these international communities and most importantly for our future generations. There is a lot of work that still needs to be done, folks. I will continue to allow my experiences to enlighten me daily on this path and learn as much as I can from every negative and positive aspect of this life I choose to live. I know better so I’ll do better to benefit my live and that of others.

Until next time, be blessed. Peace.

 

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4 thoughts on “Racism Rant: My life in Uganda

    • Ms. Black Expat says:

      Hey There,

      Thank you so much for your comment. Yes, I find it baffling that people come to African countries not expecting to have interactions with black people. I will go and check out your blog. I love reading new blogs! Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ni'mah (Nikole) says:

    Ms Black Expat, I truly thank you for this website and your YouTube page. I am currently in the process of applying to complete my edTpa in Uganda beginning Jan 2017. I am Black American, Muslim, married and a mother of three. Your page and videos have been great inspirations for me. I will be at the International School in Kampala also. If you have the time I would love to become email pals and hopefully neet you when I get there Insha Allah. Until then peace be with you…
    N

    Like

    • Ms. Black Expat says:

      Nikole! I am sooo very sorry for this super late reply. Please forgive me! That’s so exciting! What! Your moving to Kampala and also have a job at KISU?! We defintely need to talk. Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad that this page is an inspiration to you. That really warms my heart and validates my purpose for this blog. I hope you are also following me on You Tube. My page is called Ms. Black Expat.

      Yes, please email me….blessedabroad@gmail.com. I’m sure you have a ton of questions. I look forward to hearing from you.

      Like

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