“I wish that I was white so I could have beautiful long hair.”
 
At the secondary school where I am staying, I started meeting with the girls boarding there every Sunday. The first Sunday I was a little overwhelmed as ten, twenty, and then forty or so girls encircled me and simultaneously tried to engage me in conversation, but it soon became the highlight of my week. These girls were spunky, intelligent, and completely loveable- I have some excellent videos of us dancing to show you when I get home. Last Sunday was our last meeting because the school term was coming to a close and they were returning home. I really wanted to have something to show people at home how wonderful these girls are and thought I would compile some sort of booklet of their pictures and hopes/dreams for the future. As I am sure many of you have already deduced, this is where the blog title comes in. 
 
 
In reading their messages, I found that four of them had written ‘I wish I was white so I could have long beautiful hair.’ I was torn between wanting to embrace them in comfort and scream at them in rage as I felt my chest collapse. “Why?” I mumbled and the girls’ responses were simple: “Because white people are so beautiful and perfect. You are so lucky to be from Canada.” And that was it. Nothing I tried to suggest could relieve this idea of being ‘less than’ from their minds. Where did this come from, how the fuck has Western and capitalistic ideology permeated throughout the entire world, who told them that by being Malawian they didn’t count? But, of course, it was myself and the society I live in that did. By using the terms developed and developing, first world and third world, we assert and reassert a global hierarchy that discredits anything and everything that hasn’t streamed through our vapid, capitalistic culture. By painting citizens of the global south in terms of pity and nakedness. We see images of crying children and brutality in the street and we pretend to care, pretend to understand, but then the images are gone and it’s back to first world living. I am not trying to chastise, I just want to know how we got here. What’s so wrong with peace, love and understanding…
 
Oh, I have also had two very intelligent men tell me that Malawi should have waited for Independence so that the white people could have developed the country like they did in South Africa. Let’s all sleep well tonight.