I’m taking a moment to remove these glasses I wear because currently I do not need them to see what I see, but I wonder if you do?
What makes a person human?
What entitles them to certain treatment?
What entitles them to the refusal of your acknowledgement?
Life on its own has value. I do not need to be a king for you to see my value. I do not need to come from a country with resources for you to acknowledge my value. I do not need to have the same skin tone as you to deserve your recognition. I do not need to think the same way as you, to enjoy the same rights as you.
I should receive your recognition simply because you can see me for what I am: a person, a complex human being, just like you.
Cut me and I will bleed the same way you do.
Hurt me, and I will cry just like you.
Hurt my loved one, and I will pursue you the same way you would pursue me had I done the same.
It’s human nature to seek justice. I’m not perfect, but neither are you. I’m not a saint, but I want to do good. I’m in pain, but I want to forgive. I’m not much of a talker, but I want to listen to you.
The question is, do you know this?
A long time ago, you came, and saw value in my land. You saw value in my people as a whole, but not as individuals. You came to use me as a means to your own end.
I was never perfect, we were never perfect, but we were a people, with our own values and way of life.
How dare you treat us as anything less. Some people believed in your ideologies, some people believed in your prosperous and fruitful nature.
Some people believed in the wealth you brought, but some had questions that made you uncomfortable and unwilling to answer.
Some people saw you as different. Some saw you as dangerous, but you were still a person. You were a person, a part of a people that chose to use me and my people as a means to an end. And in doing so, you denied me the value of my life.
Let’s fast-forward to this “progressive” period of time we live in. You are still the same, you are still doing to me, what you did before. And will you continue to do this in the future?
The perceived differences between you and I are no longer just skin deep.
You still deny me, us, they, the right to be human. The right to be ourselves, to express our individuality.
The right to give ourselves our own definitions, but we’re too concerned with what you see in us. I want to be free, but I find myself searching for that freedom in you. Why?
Why am I like this?
Is it because we know of the system you have established that makes you the center of attention?
Is it because some people are still waiting for your apology?
Or is it because I’m still waiting for you to acknowledge me as a person?
Look at me and tell me what you see.
Do you see your history? Are you ashamed of it? Or are you scared of it?
Are you scared because the road to freedom and recovery is not as easy as you first thought?
Can you stomach the transgressions that you committed, are committing and will commit simply because you cannot see you in me?
Or do you not see anything wrong in your past? In my past? In their past?
Some people want blood for the blood they shed at your hands.
Some people want monetary compensation for the damage you brought.
But at the root of it all, we want you to see us for who we are: humans, people, individuals.
We have value, just because we exist.
You can’t erase us, no matter how hard you try.
You can’t forget us, even when you choose to turn a blind eye or give a cold shoulder.
I am not part of your background, nor am I part of my own.
I am the centre of my story, an undeniable feature in yours.
A past written in pen, that you cannot erase.
A future not yet set in stone but a presence that will continue to remain.
I am all the people that have died at your hands, are dying at your hands and will die at your hands simply because you refuse to see them not as people, but as objects to be used for your convenience.
I am the tears of many that cry at night because they don’t know what else to do.
But I am also the flame of hope you will never snuff out, no matter how hard you try.
I am also still an individual, I am me. Can’t you see?
I care for my people as whole, I care for that person as an individual that you refuse to acknowledge.
I care for my nation, just as much as you care for yours.
The only difference is that I see you as a person. I value you simply because you are alive. I do not wish to take that away from you. So why do you think that I am not entitled to the same?
Maybe the first question I should have asked is do you value yourself?
Do you see your worth?
Do you see at all?
Or should I give you my glasses?
Ruvimbo Z. Chipazi is a 3rd year Psychology student and the Art & Culture Editor for the Athenaeum