"in a space before time and words, the world was covered in a thick blanket of darkness. it was a warm and loving covering. since it was hard for the spirits who inhabited this space to see one another they learned to live by and through touch. so if you were running around lost you knew you were found when arms reached out in that loving darkness to hold you. and those arms that held the spirits in that beautiful dark space before time are holding us still.this is a little origin story i made up. i thought of it one day when i was trying to explain to a little brown girl where the babies lived before they were born-so i told her they lived in this world of loving darkness. i made up this story because i wanted this little brown girl to grow up dreaming the dark and its powerful blackness as a magic space she need never fear or dread. i made it up because i thought one day this little brown girl will hear all sorts of bad things about the darkness, about the powerful blackness, and i wanted to give her another way to look at it. i held her hand, just like my father's father, Daddy Jerry, a man who worked the land, who knew the earth was his witness, had once held my hand in the darkest of the summer nights and taught me that the blanket of night i was scared of was really longing to be my friend, to tell me all its secrets. and i reminded her, as he reminded me way back then, that those arms that first held us in that dark space before words and time hold us still. "~bell hooksSisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
“while white racists had never deemed black people beautiful before, they had a higher aesthetic regard for racially mixed black folks. when that regard took the form of granting privileges and rewards on the basis of skin color, black people began to internalize similar aesthetic values.” ~bell hooks
The color complex. Seems like a slightly trivial aspect to the struggle, but it can be, as its name suggests, complex.
Crunk Feminist Collective wrote a really interesting post about the color complex entitled the Huey Newton Complexes as well as a follow-up entitled More Musings on Melanin (or lack thereof). Very enlightening and definitely a must read. My homegirl Yvette linked me to this youtube video entitled Complexion Obsession. Marita Golden also wrote a really good book about the color complex called Don't Play in the Sun that’s definitely a must read as well.
I think it’s really important for all black people to understand the workings of the color complex because it IS racism; it is the inferiority that we have been forced into; it IS the superiority that those with lighter skin have designated themselves. If we do not understand the ways in which favoritism and preference for lighter skin can wreak havoc in our communities, then it is arguable whether we can truly understand the workings of the apartheid that has pushed us to the undesirable end of the racial spectrum. If those of us in the black and brown communities cannot admit our individual privileges, then how can we expect whites, males, and the upper class to admit their privilege?
Not only that, but how can we progress as a community unless we all admit that the color complex is perpetuated every day in our community?
how many people do you see or hear perpetuating the color complex that more and likely have no idea where it comes from? Friends on my facebook update their status all the time with comments like “ain’t nuthin better than a light-skin chick…” or “I love me a light-skin girl”. What? and rappers who only want light-skinned girls or girls of other ethnicities in their videos…and men who only date light-skinned chicks…and people who unconsciously think only dark skinned men are violent…and…and….and. yet these people have typically never asked themselves why they have this preference.
although the color complex is maintained by colored people on other colored people, it is not a cause, but a symptom of a society based on a racial hierarchy. it's not just about wanting to be white. it's about status, about wealth, about health, about nearly anything positive you can think about. for too many centuries and in too many colored nations, whites have been the ones in power, making the decisions, and making the most money. when the United States was early in it's formation, ethnic groups that weren't white or black (Asians, Middle Easterners, Pacific Islanders, etc. ) tried for years through legal means to be considered white. being white wasn't/isn't just about aesthetic preferences (nothing is ever really just about aesthetics), it was the difference between being free and being doomed to slavery; between owning land and not; between having legal rights and not.
i think we can all benefit from having a discussion about how the color complex and converse about things like...how some of us maintain it in our sexual or relationship preferences (brothers or sisters who only date light-skinned people), our ideas of beauty (all the people you want to be with and the people you wish you looked like are all light-skinned), our speech (comparing dark skin to negative things like dirt, coal, stained, tar), our stereotypes, etc. when was the last time you heard someone say "you're pretty for a dark-skinned girl"? or heard comments about the beauty of a female that only describe her light skin? or hear a mother tell her children to stay out of the sun for fear of getting dark? i think we need to start collectively probing and questioning these manifestations of colorism.
"why can't she just be pretty AND dark-skinned?", "why are all the females you like light-skinned?", "yo i fucks with your album....but why aren't there any sistas YOUR skin tone in the video, Rick Ross? whats really good, Wale?" "i like playing in the sun, mom, what exactly are you afraid of?"
heres a video (in 3 parts) about the color complex in Southeast Asians.
and some good spoken word by a rad sister.
here is one about the notorious doll test.
and a really good video about it from some intelligent brothers (when they aren't being homophobic and anti-reproductive rights):
comment. think. criticize.
this post is kind of everywhere, but hopefully the links i provided will fill in some of the gaps.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
heres a link to a blog i frequent. they have really interesting stories and videos that i like to see. however, the comment sections on these blogs reiterate the exclusivity i feel within the non-religious community.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
yesterday i met up with the Black Women's Blueprint to help plan an upcoming event about women in Hip Hop; an event that will hopefully open up some much needed dialogue.
getting together with these women is like sitting in on a history lesson, a live Oprah show, a BBC news broadcast and a local library lecture all at the same time. theres always something new i learn....about the state of affairs, new statistics that no one's talking about because they're about people of color, a different legitimate point or opinion on a recent topic in the news, to....different positions on why Wyclef Jean is running for president of Haiti and whether or not he has the skill to handle it. it's just an all around inspiring and enlightening space to be in with amazingly intelligent women to learn from.
we watched a film that may be shown at the event entitled 'Say My Name' and there was much conversation to be had. this film showed nearly every black female rapper that is out or has been out (from MC Lyte and Monie Love to Remy Ma and Jean Grae) and interviewed them on what they thought about being female in the industry.
there is MUCH to be said about Hip-Hop. so much so that i don't really even want to go into it in this post. the biggest issue is that it has become synonymous with "black culture", not just to whites who know nothing about our culture (whatever that may be...) but also to many black people. consequently, how much stake does/should society have in other people's children; in society as a whole?
for example, when 5 out of the 10 female rappers raps about how fast and good she can have sex along with making money by any means necessary (regardless of the dignity or lack thereof involved)and these women are influencing many many young girls to act as they do as well as many boys and men that this is how women are supposed to act....when do we take it out of the parents' hand, and tell the artist that they need rap with a higher level on conscience than they have??
a little over a third of the families in the Unites States are single parent families. something like 90% of those are headed by females who tend to (still) make $.80 to every man's $1. when this is the case, and many of these women are over worked, under paid, then many a times the child's role model goes to those they see in the media (although nearly every child feels some level of media pressure). when do we start holding not only parents accountable for their child's negative views (such as seeing all women of color as sexual objects as they are shown in most hip hop vidoes), but also artists, producers, record company execs, tv show hosts, and news media outlets?
think. comment. criticize.
and just to be clear, here's one example of the video i'm referring to that produces negative views. and here is one by a female artist that produces the same type of misogyny as well as the breakdown of simple sisterhood.
but to end on a positive note (because, while i have many issues with it, i do LOVE hip hop), there are a good number of conscious rappers who strive to promote positivity, love, sisterhood, self-respect, political consciousness, community, constructive criticism and constructive dialogue. and a favorite from a female rapper that never gets enough credit: