Layers of perception

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I have always been intrigued by the subjective nature of perception from person to person. I saw things in a particular way before I spent time in Nigeria, then I remember the first time I saw a person of Caucasian heritage, after seeing only Black Africans for several months. I saw the White person in a very different light from what I remembered before.

Not so long ago, I was interviewed on a radio show alongside a team who had made a film about colourism – an attitude reputed to be prevalent amongst many folks of African descent, regardless of which part of the Diaspora or Africa that they originate from. Most of the people present in the studio were considerably younger than me and they had surprising tales to tell that didn’t resonate with my recollection of the way that Black people assess each other based on the tone of their complexions.

There have been times when I have preferred to have photos of me taken by Black people who see people of their own race beyond the surface level, but then my theory has been proven wrong many times when I have seen photos taken by people of other races, who see me as I see myself.

What makes the difference in these situations? Is it possible that some people have the talent to see the beauty in fellow humans, regardless of their heritages or ethnic backgrounds?

If perception isn’t only based on what the eye sees, but also what instinct and intuition can tell us, how can we train people in our education systems to be more acute in their perceptiveness of other humans and situations?