Rejecting Racism: There’s a lot of work to do and no time to waste

Freelance model Eileen Cardona Lopez, of Venezuela, has lived in countries all over the world, and is now based in Cork. Today she writes a piece for us as part of our Rejecting Racism series.
Rejecting Racism: There’s a lot of work to do and no time to waste

Eileen Cardona Lopez, pictured centre, with friends  @luciiei and @selena.han. Picture: @lola.color.

WHEN I start a conversation about racism it is impossible to not have mix emotions.

I am aware that most of us do know what racism is about and that unfortunately this is an issue that is still present.

It makes me feel relieved to see that this is being more and more noticed, addressed and paid attention to. But, on the other hand, sadly I think that we still have a lot of work to do and we have no time to waste.

Personally, I don’t believe that we are going to overcome this situation straight away. We have been feeling this frustration and fear, fighting against the oppression and discrimination for decades just to try and make one clear repetitive point: EQUALITY!

I believe that racism is more of a state of mind that’s being either chosen or influenced by peers or by a system, as we all agree that an individual wasn’t born racist.

I understand that to make any difference or any good, we first need to know about all the pain, all the limitations and all the struggles which people who suffer from racist acts or comments goes through. Each one of us, and I say adults, young adults, children and elderly people, should have the knowledge of the weight of which the term racism encompasses to then be able to do something about it from the side of understanding and empathy.

One of the first thoughts I have towards this subject is that, even for me, a black-Hispanic young woman, it’s hard to have a clear idea of how much the word racism covers and I would say prejudice, discrimination and antagonism would be just few main terms related to this present struggle.

That being said, it easily clarifies straight away that when we refer to racism, we refer to more than verbal and it discriminates more than race. Inequality is present in gender roles, class, disabled people, Travellers, Black, Muslims and, specifically in Ireland, refugees and Direct Provision, just to mention a few.

As a person born in Venezuela and with the chance to live in different countries such as Spain, Panama and now Ireland, I can say that I experienced all the four dimensions of racism individual, institutional, interpersonal or structural. I always had the luck to have a supportive close family where values and morals were a strong and fundamental base growing up and I wish it was the same when it came to boundaries in certain subjects.

In this case, when talking about racism, I always felt ashamed, speechless and powerless in order to defend or speak my mind. I always felt that some bigger issue would come back behind if I do something about it. Therefore, it was just better to accept the facts and accept abuse and to not think about it.

Eileen Cardona Lopez.
Eileen Cardona Lopez.

Even at this stage of my life, that fear and embarrassment is still present, but I realised it’s probably one of the biggest mistakes about this whole problem and one of the main reasons it keeps going this way.

Growing up, I had to and am still dealing with situations where either known or unknown people will feel they can question my nationality, my physical features, my worth and how far I can get. Indirectly and even directly, on a daily basis we have this prejudice and discrimination present, from the smallest things such as not having an equitable and wide representation of cultures whenever I want to buy a magazine or turn on the TV, when I want to find my skin color on clothes or makeup, or when I want to go to a hairdresser to find someone who can treat my hair type without it being a major issue.

Things like having not to be stopped by police based on my skin colour, feeling accepted, welcomed and equal in any space, either institutional or social, without my race having to play a role in those, having medical assistance under the same conditions and treatment than any other person, being able to do anything social, political, educational or professional without being self-questioned if my race is a limitation, and one of the most important ones, to not be seen as an attention- seeker or self-interested when worrying about racism and my well-being.

Thanks to technologies, we have more updates and physical evidence that this is not an exaggeration. There are people suffering and dying from this and we need a real eye-opener and a common, general change on the way.

Recently, I been very active on my creative side as a freelance model and decided to express my point of view on this matter on different occasions. One of them was doing a collaboration photoshoot where I decided to gather two other models @luciiei and @selena.han from different ethnicity, and portray an image of gentleness and union which was captured by the photographer @lola.color.

Social media has been a very supportive portal where a lot of different people can express themselves and offer their own opinion and support. Let’s keep going this way and stop ignoring what really matters. Equality should be for all.

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