RACE RELATIONS 2 – Verbal Genocide

Ok, I said I would revisit this race thing one day, and I was challenged by my buddy Will. This one hits a little close to home, and I am sure that there will be some upset people at me either (a) putting our biz out there or (b) for the topic I am about to bring up in general. I know this is a REAL sensitive subject with deep rooted emotional ties, so I just ask that if you chose to disagree, please reread what I say again and try to look at things from a different angle than your own. I welcome responses from all perspectives.

The topic I want to address today is what I refer to as verbal genocide. It is about racism within our race, and how we treat each other different (tear each other down) based on skin color. This topic really saddens my heart because I look at these young girls, and how they go about seeking attention, and the weight they have on themselves to look a certain way to fit into society. I look at the ignorance of my younger brothers, and what they deem beautiful and how they alienate girls that don’t fit that criteria.

A buddy of mine wrote a blog about color issues within our race a week ago. He talked about how they used to tease their sibling who was lighter than them growing up. I told him how I started to write this blog about color issues within our race. Then the more I thought about it, I was not ready for the rebuttals and attitudes that go along with some peoples views (based off their experiences). It is a sensitive subject, and no matter how I word this I am sure someone will take it out of context and run with it. He challenged me to go forward, so I am doing so.

I am not ignorant to believe some lighter skinned people have a superiority complex and think they are better than others. But heck, there are people like that ALL shades and all races so that is foolish to generalize and say all light skinned people are that way. I understand what our people has went through and continue to go through, but what I am talking about is how we deal with our current situation. Historically, our people with darker skin tone have been harsher on our people with a lighter skin tone. A light skinned girl walks into the room, and immediately gets stares and dirty looks from darker skinned girls who “assume” that she is stuck up (or more importantly a threat) without knowing anything about the girl. I have seen this first hand with females in my family who haven’t opened their mouth to say a word, and are the sweetest people you will ever meet, but still get filthy looks.

Now let me say that I understand the history of our people. I understand the mistreatment, paper bag tests, field vs house, and all the emotional effects that trickled down as a result. I understand these feelings still exist. I understand young black girls have severe issues because they crave the attention of men, and have meet up to whatever standard society sets at the moment. I also understand that historically, darker skinned females I feel have been mistreated. However, that is also a two way street. I think sometimes we tend to think if you are light skinned, you have a cakewalk through life and everything is easier. Basically what I am saying is we are verbally (and physically) tearing one another down because of insecurity issues, and at some point we have to take some accountability and stop feeding this into the next generation of children. Sad thing is some of us do it subconsciously and don’t even realize it. I know some dudes who are brown skinned, and say they don’t like darker skinned girls and give them nicknames. I think in some of those cases, there are some deeper issues. Maybe an ex hurt them, played them, issues with their mom. I don’t condone that, and think it is ignorant as well, so it goes both ways. Actually my dude’s blog was about some rapper talking about he doesn’t like ‘dark butts’ or something of the sort. It is people like him that perpetuate this hate within our own race. I understand different people are attracted to different things, but that doesn’t give you the right to put down others just because they don’t suit your tastes. I ran across this flier for this birthday party from a guy who was a party promoter in Detroit. Is this not some foolishness? Article I read went on to say that said that he had plans for “Sexy Chocolate” and “Sexy Caramel” parties too, but that is besides the point. This is what I am talking about…perpetuating ignorance. I guess the party was canceled after protests and lawsuits, but my question is why did he think this was a good idea in the first place?

Before I go any further, let me just speak about myself for a second. I was born/raised in Ohio. In my town (neighborhood, schools), we all struggled to get by. I guess where we grew up you could call ‘hood’ or ‘ghetto’. I used to get teased from time to time because of my curly hair. I have had people say I have ‘good’ hair…which always urked me because how do you define good? In any case, I am not above criticism, and I still get called Mexicans by some of my dudes, and it is all good (cause they all fat zebra cake eating buffalo’s anyways). Naw real talk though, we have mad love and respect for each other, and that is just how we are when we are being silly. All this to say as much as we cracked on each other growing up, I had never ever ever in my life had anyone call me ‘light skinned’ until I went to Ohio State. It was then I started to realize just how serious this color complex is. I was taken back because in my mind, I had this color wheel in my head (follow my ignorant train of thought here). In my head, light skinned was like Christopher “Kid” Reid (off Kid-N-Play), or maybe Tisha Campbell…and dark skinned was Morris Chesnut or Flavor Flav. Everything else fell in the middle as brown skinned. And heck, even then I still didn’t look at any shade as being better than the other because I have seen beautiful men/women of ALL shades. I fall right in the middle (in my eyes), so I was taken back by being called ‘yellow’ or ‘lightskinned.’

Now that I am a tad bit older, I sit back and watch as my children grow and start to deal with these race issues. Now I am down south, this color thing is serious. I mean literally, when I came here darker skinned women would not look in my direction. It was almost if all the lighter dudes down this way are conceited or something. Anyone who knows me knows I speak to everyone (from presidents to janitors) because I truly believe no man is greater than another just because of position. Therefore, I make it a habit to speak to everybody. Crazy how shocked people looked with me being friendly. I ended up chatting with this woman down here (co-worker), and she told me I was just nice, and she wasn’t expecting that when she first met me because most light skinned dudes be on some stuff. Crazier thing is some of the dudes down here are pretty simple too.

It is like the School Daze Syndrome. Do you remember that song they sung in the flick? Black is beautiful….only if you’re light-skinned?

Jigaboos: Don’t you know my hair is so strong, It can break the teeth out of a comb, I don’t have to put it up at night, What you have to keep up at night, What you have to keep out of sight

Wannabees: Your hair ain’t no longer than (finger snap), So you’ll never fling it all back, And you ‘friad to walk in the rain, Oh what a shame who’s to blame

Jigs: Don’t you ever worry ‘bout that, ‘cause I don’t mind being BLACK, go on with your mixed-up head, I ain’t gonna never be ‘fraid

Wannabees: Well you got nappy hair

Jigs: Nappy is all right with me

Wannabees: My hair is straight you see

Jigs: But your soul’s crooked as can be.

Spike Lee is weird little piss ant, but he was on to something with that flick. It is like we get mad at Imus for saying what he did, but then we turn around and act the same way within our own race. Just look at how females interact with one another. Like the story I said about females in my family, and the stares from other women and mean looks. These women act like somebody trying to take their man (and in half the cases a man doesn’t even exist). These are type of women who make comments like, “She thinks she is all of that.” My question to you is have you ever put yourself in that other woman’s shoes? Maybe that person doesn’t think that way at all, and it is just you who has self-esteem issues. Maybe that person is shy and has low self-esteem themselves? There are so many variables when you judge someone off how they look without getting to know them. But just think about that behavior for a second. By constantly saying it to a light-skinned person over and over for years, a complex could emerge. That person could be tired of being treated foul, and just snap and say whatever – if you think I am stank, then hell I am. If you constantly tell somebody they are tall, and every time you see them you say they are tall, then eventually they will believe they are tall. Do you feel what I am saying? Maybe your behavior that you are projecting is the reason you are receiving it back?

My wife said something interesting to me. She said she finds the term redbone offensive. I never really thought about it in that light before, but she said it is never said with positive connotations. Either a woman is saying is scornfully about another, or a guy is saying it with ill intentions (in a sexual manner). When you think about it, men rarely use the term ‘redbone’ unless they are talking about something they want to hit. Sorry for being blunt, but it is the truth. I went to my bookshelf in my office and looked up the definition. The dictionary describes ‘redbone’ as an American hound. Wow. Urbandictionary.com describes it as, “mainly a pretty female who is black and usually mixed with another race, hence she is light skinned, light eyes, good hair, thick etc. ” What kind of nonsense is that?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not oblivious, and I understand that in many cases, the darker your skin, the harder it is for you in society. That is just a given because of the ignorance of other races. But what I am saying is sometimes people who have a darker complexion feel this gives them the right to say whatever they want to say. Sorta like how old people just say whatever is on their mind and people are supposed to sit there and just take it. I am not trying to generalize all, but there are a good number of darker skinned people who seem to believe that just because you have a lighter skin color you have it easier in life. That is foolish and ignorant, I am sorry. Believe it or not, men/women who are lighter skinned STILL get discriminated, but what is worse is they get it from their own people as well!

Look at it this way. If a guy says that he prefers lighter skinned women, then he gets backlash from our community. We tell him he has a color complex, he doesn’t love his people, sell out, this that and the other. BUT…if it were reversed and this same guy says he only prefers darker skinned females, then we don’t say anything at all. Why is that? Isn’t black still black no matter what shade it is? I am not condoning the shunning of someone, but what I am saying is we have more energy dedicated towards tearing each other apart and causing division than we do coming together, pooling our resources, and making something happen. I love my people no matter what shade they are. I never have discriminated upon my own, nor judged them. Color means nothing to me because 1) I wasn’t raised like that, and 2) black is all around beautiful to me. We are one of the most intelligent, attractive, athletic, creative races that this world has ever known. I feel Rodney. Why can’t we all just get along? A lot of our issues are real deep, but some of them are just plain out simple.

I don’t know. Maybe someone can articulate this issue better than me, but I am interested in hearing your thoughts. If you haven’t seen this before, check it out. It is called A GIRL LIKE ME.

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3 responses to “RACE RELATIONS 2 – Verbal Genocide

  1. What can I say? I felt like you conveyed your point good. I agree with you about that hair issue. I never paid attention to it until I got to college and me and P. Love talked about it. Good hair or curly hair, whatever, it is all hair. You know I read this article where Kayne made a comment about light skinned sisters. These are not his exact words but he said they call them mugs in the hood where he comes from. You know what…at the time it did not even bother me and it should have straight up! I like Kayne as an artist but dude was wrong and did not even receive the same backlash as Yung Berg. I never paid any attention to it until I read that article. It goes to show you how socieconomic and famous plays into this situation. Kanye is far more famous, successful and have extremely more money then Yung Berg but it was not a crazy up roar about him making that statement. Now, I know some people made a stink but it was not the same like Yung Berg and that is including me.

  2. Whoa, this is reality at its finest, I am a black woman, I work in healthcare, and it is a cut throat industry. People are vicious when it comes to their territories. Most of my co workers are Caucasian and I know how they think of people of color so I deal with racism on the daily. However I need to sound off on this because I have children and they have different complexions, my one son is light, my daughter is darker and my youngest son is in between. I have tried my best to not raise children that are color struck but it is an actual topic that has come up in my household. My daughter just turned 8 and she goes to an all girl’s school. Over 400 students predominately black, now she was in the mirror, chanting, I’m chocolate but I am still cute. My daughter is beautiful and to hear her say that threw me for a loop. So I kindly asked her to come here, not showing any emotion but I needed to hear her clearly because I couldn’t believe that was coming out of her mouth. She said it again like it was nothing. So I asked her, “Who told you that?” She said her friend who is in the third grade, yes she is light complected, actually her mother is mixed. She said I was cute but the other dark girls looked ugly. Now instantly I wanted to slap her to the floor, but I couldn’t do that. So I asked her did she believe that, truly. She said no, but all her friends do and she is the only dark girl they hang with and she is ok because her hair is long like theirs. It is about five of them. I told her the usual spill about color and how one color isn’t different from the other and I think she got it. I was amazed that my child who is a scholar, smart as can be and she hung out with people because she thought they where cute because they were light and she could hang too because she has long hair. I then bought school daze and she and I watched it, of course going over the sex. She really was mortified by how they treated each other, but I let her know that’s how her and her friends were. She has since adding other friends to her group but I know that is still in the back of her mind. An ill sick thought perpetuated by society to my baby. I am praying on that one because I need my children to feel superior, not inferior at all times. Good topic J.

  3. Interesting topic J. I never really considered myself light until I moved away from the city and folks would refer to me as light-skinned. I was like you, I thought light-skinned was like Kid…that is for real. It is crazy how within our own race we discriminate against each other because of one’s complexion. Yeah man, I’m feeling this one.

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