For Africa: A Guide to try to understand Russia

Russia… Russia, is melting. literally.

it’s no longer cold, but i can’t say much about the people here. 

the stares don’t stop. they look at me like they are trying to laser off my melanin.

One time about 11 of us(black-skinned ) were chilling at KFC having a good time, food and beer, a random russian drops a cup on one of or tables. they had drawn a Nazi sign on it with what looked like eye liner.

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it was funny, well. it wasn’t but it was. to me that is. i just ignored it, like i do every other racist remark or stare.

one of the guys we were with, filled that cup with bones and went to throw them on the person who brought the cup to our table, then he threw the cup on the table and walked away.

pause: he’s one of those people who, don’t like racism. so.. his way of dealing with it is by retaliating sometimes. he’s a cool guy, one of the sweetest i know but like seriously.

that russian had time, and energy and a lot of misdirected anger.

 

as luck would have it the guy got angry, did what he did, now the russians were mad too! he’s face turned red and he kept hitting his fisted hand into his other hands palm. that sign that shows us it’s about to go down! they wanted us outside, and it also seemed like the guy was calling  for backup. we were somewhat trapped in KFC because they could not start fighting us in the venue.. ahhhhh my gooooood! 

we turned into scrambled eggs, confused, angry, laughing all confused and stuff. it was weird, and i sat there with a racing heart all worked up about feelings i could not understand. my battery died a while back. i was thinking about how i didn’t get to say i love you one more time to my family. literally. i was on the brink of tears. in as much as i shrug it off, in as much as i try not to let the racist things weigh me down, this was one heavy boulder and i was crushing under it.

i was in the population minority. so, i really didn’t expect them to help us if push did come to shove.

the guys we were with kept saying they wont hit the ladies, the wont hit girls. 

for me it wasn’t even about that. the idea of it was repulsive. 

Why does the colour of my skin offend  you so much?

there was no negotiating with my feelings. 

i probably never told anyone this was how i felt. yeah, we were all scared but we’d been drinking and it was funny, it was not believable. it hadn’t quite sunk in that this could turn into a disaster, i did not want to be part of the statistics of people who went back home in coffins.

 

that happened. we managed to get out of it. we were all fine. but i changed.

i am not so… eager to let things go unnoticed that are likely to bother me. i keep tally.

i stare back till they look away. i insult them in foreign languages out loud in their faces sometimes when i hear them talking about me.

I’m a bit bitter, and angry. i also know i can’t blame all the russians for what happened that night. I’m over it-but-i’m not over it.

I’m dealing with it the way any 18-year-old would. I’m getting over it. I’m missing home and I’m getting over the distance

or at least trying to. but i am very angry. sometimes at myself. most times actually.

i was being the bigger person before, not letting such petty things bother me, but i got scared and lost my grip. i was rattled now it’s all touch and go.

people often ask me what it’s like in Russia?

well.. it’s different. it’s cold. both weather and atmosphere. its bloody cold. especially if you are black. and I’m not just saying. I’m not playing victim. I’m not making them out to be bullies. I’ve met really wonderful russians, they are beautiful people hidden in all that coldness. what i am saying is, Russia is not a place you come to if your outer shell has not fully developed yet. you have to kinda be a turtle. to protect yourself. to be able to still stand straight. 

I’m trying to be that, but ever since that episode I’ve been curved into a question mark, questioning why i ever came here on days when it’s really bad. if you cant handle being different. just don’t try to experience this. especially if it’s for school and you don’t know anyone here. 

russia is special.it’s different. i feel like if you can survive russia, you can survive anywhere in the world. it will toughen you up. it’s kinda like boot camp, some serious character building type place, that will make or break you.  imagine being the only black person in an entire mall. will you be able to continue about your business like you would if you were back. would you handle shoulder tapping and whispers..

 

“hey, it’s a black person..”  “….monkey….” “.. what are you doing here?…”  “…slave..” yes, slave. I’ve encountered two russian girls who referred to us as slaves. 

it breaks my heart. it really does. some nights i listen to it, and i cry because it’s not like i can just leave tomorrow morning, i gave to wait till the trees are green again. i have to remember to not forget all the beautiful people i have met, all the smiles, the laughter, the lessons, skills.

 

i went out with a friend today, as luck would have it the theme of the day was love… I thought of Gandhi, Mr King and all the others who kept on telling us about love and how much i wanted to be like them. to change the world with love.

i am looking for that strength.

one day, i will love russia and all it has to offer unconditionally. 

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