It is a psychological minefield out there for people of colour.
When we think, instinct must gravitate toward survival. Rather than tinker with the ideas of staying alive, our rationale wanders into a path of a life inspired by show-business and televisual programming. It germinates want, rather than need, leaving us stuck once again in loops we once clung to in infancy. If what we learn emanates from tv screens, what would life look like without it?
Are we truly attracted to people we claim to sexually admire and/or seek for matrimonial accomplishment? Is this a front to present to people a life that will spawn envy and sadness for others knowing their goals may be orientated around popular culture? Are the people who choose these lives happy themselves? Is your type really your type? Do you really want a house or is a nomadic journey better illustrative of your character?
I remember quizzes generated by Buzzfeed for rotation on social media – ‘What character are you from friends?’ and to me, these are clues from society’s listening wall of the impact popular media has. These venders of behavioural influence, mannerisms and quirks that change civilisation both locally and internationally have huge consequences for us all. And the significance of their power can be most felt by those who are not white.
Maybe I am a cynical nihilist, but I cannot make up the way we are treated, the stares, selective searches disguised as random, constant questions about our origin, intimidating language and assaults. All these behaviours are programmes of crude replication, manufactured and encouraged by playwrights far removed from our lives with zero zeal for egalitarianism.
Looking back on sitcoms with 2020 eyes, the content of a 20-30-minute showcase contributed to the way society is today. The Hygge it installed into our living rooms cultured a comfort that was brought into the modern world. It unconsciously curated society with an expectation, including the way we, people of colour, should behave and conduct ourselves. And that comfort made people content to express their inner xenophobic talents. Casual racism became as casual as watching these so-called titans of television. Maybe programming is programming.
We’re stereotyped and typecast, categorised and romanticised by the hand of others, usually done with limited effort. So much so, that some movies produced and directed by (I hate this word) minorities feel it their duty to destroy any progress made by contributing the same. Playing along. This is what it means to fit in, while everyone present watches on and enjoys the way, we, the manufactured antagonist character in the background have been portrayed. Are the scabs and blemishes of these effortless efforts to subjugate us within range to reverse? Only time will tell.
Productions of the early to mid-twentieth century have had what feels like irreversible scarring on the way people of colour are perceived and on our own psyche, which has left a pungent waft of identity crises throughout communities.
Wanting to look white can be seen and felt everywhere, though the master of stealth in psychological damage is something more troubling. Undertones of the need to be accepted and loved by whites, especially within the south Asian community has led to destructible attitudes in spirit and mind. Coupled with the stigmatisation of mental health conditions, it is no wonder reported mental health statistics are far higher than Caucasian people. That said, the true number might be higher due to stigmatisation.
This is a result of intergenerational trauma and/or transgenerational trauma. The longer it is ignored, the longer it will linger. Many dare not challenge it for the very reason it had begun. The true meaning of identity is a complex maze of mostly pinball loss. A scattergram without numbers or context.
People of colour have much to contend with in today’s world, including inherited traits and traumas of our ancestral past and the systemic hierarchy and abuse of past convictions. But now, popular media confounds our idea of identity presenting us with new challenges at the behest of Hollywood juggernauts and clever clowns in suits with briefcases. They demand we behave a certain way almost commanding we rip off our skin and exorcise our personalities. To be white.
We yearn to be at ease like in our formative years and a reluctance to face what we fear could be the cause propelling us further away from contentment. The beast cannot be seen, nor can it be seen in the mirror anymore, when it lives within the brain – and all are afraid to go there.