OPINION: Racism experiences across my world travels

An important and sensitive topic that has been ongoing all over the word and talked about nonstop for a long time is racism. Indeed, every continent has faced and experienced in some ways some form of racism, and you can find it in all kinds of domains. Mostly it is in different working offices, sports, public way of transportation or, in a lot of case,s dealing with the authority.  

Depending on where you find yourself at in the world the intensity of racism, the acceptance of racism and the repercussions of any act of racism varies. Even though a lot of progress has been made over the years, racism is still an act that is happening way too often in today’s world.  

Being a young black man myself, born and raised in Paris, France, with both my parents originally from Cameroon, Africa, I have been a victim of racism plenty of times in all different ways. Indeed, sometimes it has been done in a subtle and finesse way but a lot of times it was also done in a straightforward manner. As long as I can remember, my mother always made sure to talk to me about racism in a simple way at first, regarding my age, but the teaching and explanation got more specific and deeper as I got older. I remember feeling back then like it was so unfair and cruel for me to have to dress, talk, act and react a certain kind of way to not being perceived or judged wrongly but also to not put myself in any sort of dangerous situations.  

As I got older and started being able to think for myself and make my own decisions, I started looking at racism in a different way. I remember one of the first major decisions that I decided to make was to accept who I am as a person knowing that I had been raised the right way with my parents giving me great life’s values and principles. Therefore I decided to stop trying to fit in for acceptance. Indeed I personally felt like the way I was raised helped me avoid a lot of situations that could have got me in trouble or worse, and on a positive note, it got me through some doors and allowed me to take advantage of different opportunities presented to me. But at the same time, I felt like I had two different personalities and almost had to put on a mask when dealing with certain people or situations to not be judged, looked at as less than or to be able to get through certain doors which I got tired of doing.  

When I moved to the United States, I started to experience life in a totally different way. When I am having talks with some of my peers, they are happily surprised when I tell them that racism in the United States is completely different than it is in France. Indeed, in the States I personally have rarely experienced situations where I had to deal with evil acts due to my skin color. I used to wonder if it was because the U.S. is a more diverse country with way more people of color, therefore there are more accepted here. France is definitely worse when it comes to that topic. 

I know that racism and its punishments have come a long way, whether it is in Europe or in the States, but I believe that countries, its citizens and its government could definitely do a better job when it comes to educate themselves on that topic. It is unacceptable in 2024 to still have people feeling above or less than others.