Sigh. Black people, black people. When will we collectively realize that “The Man” isn’t the only one dividing us and tearing us down? We do it to one another all the time. We get outraged when bigots like Don Immus call us nappy-headed hoes, yet we call each other far worse without any pause. I know the philosophy of “We can say it to each other, but no one else can,” is true in many regards, but being hung up on skin color and hair texture does nothing but intensify century old wounds inflicted by the institution of slavery.
Why we as black people still abuse one another over physical traits is beyond me. Even with all the education available and the droves of beautiful, successful black women dominating various areas of society, we are still hindered by the slave-bred mentality of skin color and hair texture.
Light skin, dark skin, house nigga, field nigga, good hair bad hair, mulatto, octoroon, quadroon, mixed, biracial etc. The list is damn near endless, but the common thread there is that each term can in some way reflect peoples of African descent.
As people of color we are all children of the Diaspora and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with looking like it! Even with a perm I always held those with strong African characteristics on a pedestal as the epitome of beauty. I just didn’t have the sense to realize that I was capable of exhibiting that kind of beauty and pride at the time. Now I know.
Our ethnic characteristics are part of what make us special and unique as a people. Black Americans descended from those who survived slavery. That strength is reflected in our features so why do we consistently find ways to rid ourselves of them? Jim Crow is dead, yet bleaching creams are still sold and used by black women for more than just fading scars. We have been told that black is beautiful for a while now, but we are still paying billions of dollars annually on silky weaves and plastic surgery to achieve more European appearances. To each his own, but we can’t ignore the underlying issue in all this and expect to advance our community.
When African people arrived on American shores they were stripped of their culture and had to fight to retain even the smallest semblance of who they were. Now, we are doing it to ourselves willingly; merely to fit standards of beauty implemented to exclude people of color as a means of their continued oppression and inferiority.
Many people probably don’t think it’s that deep, but it is to me and this is my blog. I believe we must ask ourselves why we like what we like? “Why is it that I prefer a relaxer to my natural hair? Why do I prefer hair that is clearly not what I was born with?” “Do I really view dark and light skinned black people in the same light and if not, why?”
In another discussion a friend told me “Girl I couldn’t go natural. I can’t have people looking at me like I’m straight off the boat fromAfrica.” Damn right? That hit me hard and deep.
Our society has created such delusions regarding what constitutes beauty. As a black woman, regardless of what I do to myself, I am always going to appear ethnic. My perm was never a magic potion that made me appear white. If I bleach my skin, get plastic surgery, perm my hair or wear contacts I will always look black because I AM BLACK!
Looking “African” is something I don’t have a problem with, but sadly, so many women do because of the idea that African and beauty aren’t synonymous in America. Granted, we have come a long way in that respect, but comments like those listed above prove we have a long way to go.
I wish we could just erase the generations of self hatred and assimilation-type behavior exhibited by black women because we are so tremendous. I would never, ever want to be anything other than a black woman. I’m not standing on a soap box preaching either. I’m not a hypocrite, I have just seen the error of my previous ways. I have my own insecurities and hang ups like everyone else…many of which this blog is helping me with. But never have I thought despairingly about myself or my people on the basis of skin color. Black is beautiful, end of story. Maybe one day before Jesus comes, we won’t have to deal with these kinds of issues. But until that time, we have to start breaking down these ill-conceived perceptions of skin color, hair texture and ethnicity on step at a time. Harambee.