Get This Monkey Off My Back

I have a problem with someone else defining what is offensive to me, what is and is not designed to be offensive. In this world, unless something is overtly stated along with its intent. An Asian panellist on the UK’s Loose Women chimed in on the offense du jour – HM’s either severe or wonton lack of judgement in case of the ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’. Apparently she believes there’s an over action to this cute jumper. Saira Khan may have been subject to all manner of abuse and racist threats but she isn’t black. She hasn’t had bananas flung at her. She hasn’t been called an ape. Or been forced to perform in a circus dressed as the primate. She hasn’t had a school teacher examine the texture of her hair and compare her to a creature in the jungle. She hasn’t been called a monkey (to my knowledge).

I wasn’t more angry than usual about the latest in the latest set of attempt at systemic annihilation against my people, black people. Why? Because this is an ever present current. But for Saira Khan to think her opinion is okay because she too is a victim of a different type of systemic abuse is wrong. Why? Because her ancestors weren’t shipped to the UK and new world against their will and robbed of an identity, noses and foreheads measured and new tribes created, families separated. No, they may have been indentured servants and treated terribly, discriminated against but they weren’t robbed of an identity that was replaced with that of an animal, a monkey. One that makes incoherent noises and slings shit.

The opinion she gave was within a specific context, when you are caressing and caring for your child that is of lighter hue than the child in the thoughtless campaign H&M splashed on its website. But what H&M forgot about was where the (adult) children who play football in Europe and that same endearing term that you use for your child is flung like shit against the child of another as a racial slur. CONTEXT is what Saira Khan doesn’t have. CONTEXT is what someone at H&M was missing. And that just got me vexed today.

Don’t try to define what hurts me. Don’t be offended by what I am hurt by.  Just stop. Let us have a minute. To be aggrieved.

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