I’ve Had Enough – the thoughts of a Hungarian Black girl9 min read

 In Central Europe, Civil Society, Opinion
What is it like to live in Hungary as a Black woman? To be complimented on your “nice accent” when you are Hungarian? To be in school and hear another girl say she doesn’t want to hold your hand, fearing that you would dirty hers? 

I was mocked, humiliated, outcasted, hit. Imagine the feeling when, as a primary school student, I had to deal with another young girl’s refusal to hold my hand in line, as she claimed that she felt disgusted and worried that my hand would make hers dirty. This painful feeling is all too familiar for those who have also been Othered. Personally, I’ve experienced this feeling throughout my whole life. 

I know exactly which kinds of articles I don’t want to see the comments section for – and sadly, my fears are always confirmed. There is no way to put this nicely; I see how most people react with an angry or a laughing emoji under all writings regarding this topic. Friends of mine, who I never thought would, are posting fake page listings of George Floyd’s made-up crimes on Facebook. 

Seeing these posts obviously hurt my sense of justice, but I know that I am trying to convince people from a losing position already. I tend to read international papers for international news, just like I read Hungarian papers for Hungarian news. I think everyone who has the chance to, should gather their information like this. 

It hurts me to this day, how here in Hungary, people are still using the n-word so naturally. It hurts me even more, that when I tell someone off for it, they keep using it, claiming that they are not using it to offend. Whereas it’s rather easy: if Michael tells you that he wants you to call him Mike because he doesn’t like his full name, you will stop calling him Michael. This is not about being politically correct, a concept that everyone talks about with such disgust. Abroad, this phrase is only used by racists. 

I’ve had enough 

I’m bored, that whoever I meet, the first thing I have to talk about is where I am from, or smile proudly when they compliment my accent. I’ve stopped explaining to strangers at the shop or at the post office that I am also Hungarian. Once I was at a house party with a childhood friend who told me that she can’t understand how I can cope with this when even she is so tired of it all. She started to respond instead of me to people’s questioning. She said I was Swedish, and with that, the conversation was closed. 

I’ve had enough, enough of everyone thinking that I can only listen to hip-hop, that I must be a good singer (nope) and that I dance (definitely not). Sadly, this is still a form of racism, even if it doesn’t aim to offend with the labelling. 

Black Lives Matter!

I have noticed that All Lives Matter has become the new pocketnazi (sic!) phrase. I can’t comprehend how young people growing up surrounded by today’s pop culture still don’t understand the point of BLM.

People should understand when they are caught up in the details of the life of George Floyd, that this is not about ‘criminals made into martyrs’. This is about Breonna Taylor, the twenty-six-year-old medic, who was killed when police shot eight rounds at her chest after arriving at the wrong home address. This is about Ahmaud Arbery, who went for a run and was chased by a father and a son who shot him dead with their rifle gun. 

The murderers were only arrested four weeks after the killing due to a huge uprising from citizens in defence of Arbery. The murderers of Breonna are still free. I could bring up so many other examples here. In the eye of the American justice system, none of their lives mattered. 

So, I think that whoever is bothered by the protests and thinks that this movement is just a media obsession, should think about what they’d do if something like this happened to their family. 

This is usually where the classic argument is brought up, that something like this could never happen here, because we are not in the US, and anyway, this wouldn’t happen to someone who’s not a criminal. I have to disappoint these people: racial discrimination doesn’t just happen to criminals.  

The Movement in Budapest

To my surprise something started to happen in Budapest. On June 8, 2020, more than a thousand of us gathered at Szabadság square. People of different ages, sexes, and identities gathered to take part in a peaceful and quiet commemoration. The speeches were so quiet, that even the people sitting at the balcony of the restaurant opposite us didn’t know why we had gathered. There were people with signs saying George Floyd’s name and Black Lives Matter. At one point the speakers asked us to remember George Floyd by silently kneeling for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. 

But amid these nice things, there were also two uncomfortable moments. A young man found it important to shout: “Death to the niggers” A known Hungarian vlogger also felt that he had to take part in the organised peaceful remembrance of murdered Black people. Together with two companions, he held a sign saying ‘European Lives Matter’ protesting against racism towards white people. Surprisingly, he was able to film the people who were trying to send him away. Anyone who can stomach it can watch it. I can’t. 

Will there be any change?

My simple reply to this is, no – there will always be racists. There will always be people who will express themselves through hatred towards others. Public figures who have stood up against racism have also been the victim of attacks and assassination. It brought no real change in global politics that the US had a Black president for eight years. A mixed-race actress marrying into the British royal family has only brought on negative comments. People stopped saying negro. At the same time, a video of an old woman spitting at one of Will Smith’s colleagues in the streets of Budapest went viral in 2019. 

But maybe I can say that something has started

What is happening is similar to the #metoo movement in 2017. A lot of people hated the #metoo movement or thought it was exaggerated – but a lot of important heads have also fallen, and finally, people who never had the chance to talk about their traumas before could have their voices heard. 

In 2020, a video surfaced of the former NBA-star, Stephen Jackson, with a little girl on his shoulders, repeating the sentence ‘Daddy Changed The World’. The little girl was George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter, Gianna. Maybe this could be perceived as over the top or too gimmicky, but the George Floyd-phenomenon truly brought change to the world. Never before have we seen a world-wide outrage following a case like this. The fact that we could watch a person dying for ten minutes has provoked such unanimous anger and sadness from everyone, that, whether they wanted to or not, leaders around the world have to respond to it. On 2 June 2020, many people changed their profile picture on their social media platforms to black. This was called “Black Out Tuesday”. 

Professional boxer Floyd Mayweather announced that he will cover the costs of George Floyd’s funeral. Kanye West expressed that he will cover the costs of Gianna’s studies, and Southern University in Texas has also offered a scholarship to the little girl. The street leading to the White House has been named Black Lives Matter Plaza, and all over the US and in Britain, people are bringing down statues that serve as symbols of slavery, colonialism, and racism. 

I won’t list how many people have lost their jobs due to their previous racist comments, or for being intolerant towards the BLM-movement. Donald Trump’s favourite movie, the 1939 Best Picture winner Gone With The Wind has been removed from streaming platforms. I don’t want to finish this piece without addressing this as many people I know are upset about it. There are only a few films I have watched more than once, and I have also read the book. Gone With The Wind is one of those. I love the story, both the set design and the acting are brilliant. 

The movie’s huge fault is that it romanticized slavery. We as an audience like the character Mammy, however, we don’t recognise that she and the rest of the Black slaves are serving the white owners with such naturality, or acknowledge how much assault they have to endure.  

The film captures the time period truthfully, but it is painful for people whose ancestors had lived and suffered through slavery. It says a lot about filmmaking at the time that none of the Black actors in the film received an invitation to the premiere of the film, and that the award-winning actress who played Mammy, Hattie McDaniel, wasn’t allowed to sit at the table with the rest of the stars of the film – she only got a spot in the back. Nevertheless, I think that removing the movie would be a mistake. We can’t fake or change our history. Gone With The Wind is an influential piece and representation of history and, those who can should read the book too. 

In the end, I want to quote the famous American civil rights defender Jane Elliot who speaks about the fact that the most important thing that we can do is to educate ourselves “We are all part of the same species. We are all thirtieth to fiftieth cousins of each other, whether we like it or not. We have the same ancestors back there, 300 000 – 500 000 years ago we were all Black. The only reason for some of us being light-skinned, while others are dark-skinned, is due to the fact that some of our ancestors moved away from the Equator while others stayed behind.” 

This is a shorter version of the original article, which was written in Hungarian and published on wmn.hu on 16 June 2020. Wmn.hu us an open and inclusive online platform for women. 

The article was translated to English by Julia Levai and published in its entirety by Lazy Women on 2 July 2020. Lazy Women is an official partner of Lossi 36.

Featured image: Judit Deen / Judit Deen
Recommended Posts