My name is Prince Henry Kwesi Asare, I’m 28 years old and I study sociology. I’m also an activist and I spend a lot of time sharing my story and talking about the conditions that minorities face in Denmark.
Injustice and discrimination, no matter who experiences it, is wrong. No matter if it is because of your disability, sexuality or skin color it dehumanizes you and diminishes your possibilities in society. It takes away your right to be who you are.
I KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO NOT HAVE A VOICE
When you’re a minority like me you can’t avoid experiencing things that no one should experience. I’ve experienced discrimination and racism since I was six years old. Back then I didn’t know that being bullied because of my skin color was racism. I just thought people didn’t like me.
Noone ever told me that my voice is worth anything. I had to figure that out for myself. When you’re a young person of color you stand out just for being you, so all you want is to fit in. That makes your own voice something you don’t dare listen to or use because you’re scared of having an extra spotlight put on you. I tried to talk about my experiences when I was very young, but every time my voice was ignored or quieted down. I think that is why my voice is so unruly now. I know what it’s like to not have a voice.
A lot of what I do is motivated by the things I didn’t have as a child. Today my voice stands with little Prince, if he is out there somewhere, and it stands with all the other people who are not being heard in society.
THE POINT OF NO RETURN
I went to folk high school (Højskole in Danish) as the only person of color in my class, and experienced racism. But no one cared about it. Not the teachers, not the leadership. I understood that I had to do something myself, so no one else would have to experience what I did and handle it alone.
I think that when you’ve experienced a lot of discrimination your whole life, you come to a point of no return. I had a feeling of just not being able to go on anymore. I had to do something to make sure that I didn’t experience racism in the communities I was part of anymore. That’s when I really found my voice.
THIS ENERGY TOOK OVER MY BODY
At the Højskole I found ways to talk to my peers about what I experienced. I showed a film about discrimination, and I invited students to do a demonstration for Black Lives Matter with me. I had never paticipated in a demonstration before but when I was handed the microphone and we started walking I felt this energy take over my body. I led the demonstration with battle cries that my peers started repeating back to me, I don’t know what got into me. I saw how people around us woke up: they came closer, cars were honking, parents started talking to their children about what the demonstration was about. I saw change at a local scale, and I think that is an important point to make: You don’t have to change the whole world. If you can change your own world, you’ve made a huge difference.
James Baldwin says something that I’m very inspired by: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced”. We have to face things, recognize them and talk about them, before we can really change them.
NOW EVERYBODY CAN FEEL COMFORTABLE AT HØJSKOLE
After my stay at the Højskole I wrote a newspaper article about my experiences and how discrimination affected both minorities and the general well-being of students. Following the article I was contacted by the Højskole movement and asked to participate in a panel of students with minority backgrounds. Our experiences were translated into new recommendations on how to make Højskole a place where everybody feels comfortable and a place with a more meaningful and respectful culture. The final outcome was a report and a toolbox that each højskole can use to create more diversity and inclusion.
QUESTION YOUR OWN BELIEFS
It’s important to remember that no one is born to hate. It is something we have been taught, and it means that we can unlearn it through dialogue. You can start by having a dialogue with yourself. Stop and ask yourself, where does this belief come from? Why do I think the way I do about another person’s background, gender, etc. Then follow up with the question: How would I feel if anyone judged me in that way?
We need to understand that the way we experience the world, no matter who we are, is narrow because it is based on ourselves. Your world is not everybody’s world, it is defined by your perspective. The only way I can broaden my perspective is by talking to others that are different from me and listening to their stories.
UTILIZE YOUR TALENT TO CHANGE STATUS QUO
There are so many reasons to give up fighting: it’s tough, it takes your energy and change is happening very slowly. Sometimes I think I could use my energy on so many other things. But I can’t stop. I see that it makes a difference for me and others that I publicly take a stand and communicate what minorities experience.
When I started sharing my experiences, I never expected that my work would lead me where it has. I never expected that I’d organize a demonstration, that I’d create change in the Højskole community, that I’d change anything in society. You can create change by sharing your story and utilizing your talent to express what’s in your heart. Rap, write, act, do what your’re good at. You don’t have to do it to change the world. You can just do it, because you wish to do something differently than the status quo.
I’M NOT ALONE
Together we have the potential to be a generation of community. A generation that helps each other and shows each other respect and kindness. A generation where each and every one of us is a little less lonely in our individual battles. The most beautiful part of this journey has been experiencing just how many people are out there identify with the things I say. And realizing that I’m not alone.