With the global emphasis on the current pandemic, everyone wants to know when life will return to normal? Normal, being, the way it was before Covid19 came and stopped the world in its tracks. We often hear the words, “When will we return to normal?” In other words, when will the pandemic be done, and when can we “get back” to the lives we had before.
These questions made me think about the word “normal” and what it means. Now, thinking deeply about it made me examine my life to establish when life was “normal” for me? I realized that the simple answer is that it never was “normal” for all black and brown people the world over.
For Indigenous people, life has not been “normal” for centuries, but a kind of “normality” exists within the abnormal. We could even go so far as to say that black and brown people have just made the best of a horrific situation.
So looking back to 2020 when the world first heard about Covid19 and was “struck down” by it isn’t far enough because life was not “normal” before then. We had and continue to have wage disparities between black and white people- this is often race-based and not done on qualifications or merit. So do we want that “normal?” Do we desire to return to suffering under an unequal, racist system? Of course not, well then, let us travel further into the past and ask ourselves if we want to return to the “normal” we knew during Apartheid and the Jim Crow era?
Racism and slavery are not, nor should they ever be considered “normal,” no matter how many white supremacists may desire it. White privilege is not normal, neither is colonization. For centuries black and brown people have had no normal! Instead, they have been “forced” to adapt to the “normal” life of racism and subjugation. This applies to all areas of our lives! We have systemic and structural racism that continue to disadvantage black and brown people and unfairly advantage white people. Then we have to deal with the violence, both physical and mental, that we often experience daily with very little recourse. The violence meted out upon black and brown bodies by those in authority can’t possibly be considered normal, and any person who thinks it is has lost their humanity.
I don’t join in the cries for life to return to “normal” because life isn’t “normal” for black and brown people, and it would be remiss of me to add my voice to the cries for “normality.”
Instead, my cries are for those “steeped in privilege” and who consider that “normal” to have an awakening. An awakening where they realize and understand that their “normal” was “constructed” on the backs of people who are not different to them save for extra melanin. That they finally “understand” that the normal they have and wish to return to continues to happen with them in a protective bubble, much like a baby whose parents protect them from harm. I don’t mean to imply that white people don’t suffer, but merely that they don’t suffer globally because of the colour of their skin!
My cry is for a “new normal”- a normal where everyone is treated equally irrespective of their gender, race, religious beliefs, and so on. Should we, as humans, fail to change the current way, it simply indicates that for people who look like me, there was never a normal!