Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ethnic Notions

"Since the days of slavery, skin color has been used as a tool of separation and preferential treatment within the black community. The residue of the "house" versus "field Negro" divide has long remained with us, even as we celebrated black pride in the '70s and hip-hop culture in the '80s. House slaves were usually products of a relationship between a master and a female slave, so they tended to have lighter skin. The boss's offspring would more than likely receive the special favor of doing work inside the house out of the hot sun. They'd eat better, often get taught to read and write, and enjoyed many of the liberties of non-slaves. Slaves with darker skin were usually stuck toiling in the fields. The anger over that old distinction has never quite gone away in African-American culture."  -Allison Samuels

Being a light-skinned black woman, I have had to often times feel guilty about my skin complexion. The divide is so great that often times I can't take a compliment in the presence of some darker skinned women without feeling guilty of something. I'm a woman who believes that black is beautiful, all shades of it, but I constantly hear people tell me that I'm not as stuck up as I looked or that they thought because I was light skinned, that I thought I was "all of that". On too many occasions I wished that I was a mocha or buttery smooth almond complexion so that I could be proud of being complimented without the fear of having to offend someone else.

With slavery ending over 400 years ago, one would think that people would do away with the stigmas associated with the varying degrees of black, however the discrimination is still prevalent. I blame it more on the ignorance of the very culture that I embrace and was born into--the black culture. Yea I agree that the white man may have started it on a slave farm way back yonder, but I can no longer continue to thrust the blame on Caucasian Americans when I see darker skinned women before my very eyes become role models and celebrities. I believe people on the lower level of the totem pole are still holding on to this notion as sort of a basis to continue the vicious cycle among smaller communities and cultures. For example, When I look at entertainers today I see Jennifer Hudson, "Precious", Oprah Winfrey, Gabrielle Union, Tichina Arnold and a whole slew of very dark skinned women and men in the industry and plastered all over the media. I believe that as a culture we are gravitating more and more towards the acceptance of all skin tones. Is it over with? I don't believe so, because more and more people in my neighborhood still feel a certain way about a light skinned woman being successful.

The video, Ethnic Notions, gives us a glimpse into the way society viewed the black race back in the days. They portrayed the black person as the "Mammy" the "Uncle" the "Black Sambo" etc. in the decades after slavery. That's because people were not as educated in this issues of equality. However, I feel that this great country that we live in are slowly gravitating towards letting in all shades of black. If you take a look at the Aunt Jemima logo from back in the days and the one now, you will see that they have made even that dark skinned logo more attractive. If you don't believe me, have a look for yourself.

Biracial Who? Not My President.