I have so much going through my head right now and I don’t know how to express it in words. So excuse me if this post seems off kilter.
In the past month I have come across a plethora of information that has revealed more to me about the impact of colonization on people of color, the monster that racism is and the havoc it has caused and is, sadly but truly, still causing.
In the aftermath of the verdict in the Trayvon Martin Case so many questions and concerns have popped up in my mind and all the information that I have gained during this month and from the past has come flooding back into my thoughts.
I am left with this haunting question:
Is having black skin a curse?
It is difficult to not believe this when you take into account all the suffering that people of color have had to endure and still endure because of their looks and ethnicity.
I must add, when I use the term “people of color” I am not just talking about people who are African or of African descent. Moving to the East has introduced me to other people and ethnicities who share the same skin shades as people of African descent and deal with similar racial and identity issues that those of African descent have had to endure for centuries. People from the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Melanesia just to name a few. Many of the darker skinned individuals from this part of the globe have had to deal with discrimination and hatred towards them and deal with the same identity crisis and brainwashing that to be “white”or fairer skin is better. Not to forget the darker skinned individuals from the Caribbean and Central and South America also.
Then I am left to ask where did this “white is better than black” perspective come from? With the little knowledge that I have, I have concluded that it has, most possibly, stemmed from colonization.
This is my rational’s conclusion:
When the Europeans traveled the world conquering and stealing lands, killing and enslaving people and instilling mortifying fear into the “savages”, it was obvious who had the power at the time. The mentality seemed to be “we are better because we are stronger; we conquered and control you so you are less. You can never be us and we hate you for not being us but we will use you for what we want and we will make you dependent on us for your survival. ” So the largely, European mindset (because it wasn’t just only Europeans) and their superficial attributes, were imposed on the peoples that they colonized to the point that these ethnicities were left with the notion that to be powerful, to succeed, to be beautiful and to be respected is to be white or fairer like the Europeans. The more you resemble them the better your advantage to prosper in this world. Present day, this view is still portrayed by the media to the World.
Though this is how my rational mind has simplistically wrapped itself around the dilemma that is this mindset, I may be absolutely wrong. Maybe it goes further back than colonization and deeper than skin color.
I think it does. However, I will address this later in this post…
“What does it mean to be “black”?”
If I were to answer this based on history, the media and the western world’s perspective which I have been exposed to since a baby, to be black or colored is to be:
- Disease ridden
- Worth less or worthless
- 2nd class
Just typing these adjectives are breaking my heart. **tears** It hurts because it is NOT TRUE yet it is the levied idea that lays in our subconscious minds that has affected our thinking, self-image, how we view one another, our expectations and coupled with our experiences, has contributed to forming our biases. TALK ABOUT INCEPTION!
Fortunately, many have come to the realization of this lie and are fighting to renew their minds and the views of themselves and others… but it’s not an easy journey. We have to fight hundreds of years of brainwashing that has been imposed us from childhood. However, it’s a journey all of us must take if we seek to be FREE from these LIES.
Reader, I wanted to share with you some media that I have come across within this month alone that has had an impact on me and my understanding of the effects of racism and being black:
– In French rapper, Kery James’ “Letter to the Republic” he expresses his experiences, facts and realizations in regards to immigration and racism within France. The story is so similar to the plight of black people in the USA. When I read the translation…. Speechless! It gave me chills. It’s a powerful piece. Here are some excerpts:
You developed a taste for immigration but now you suffer from indigestion. And I don’t think we are here because of charity. I think we are here to serve as cheap labor. Keep your republican illusions to yourself. A beautiful France ruined by Africans.
Human beings were not meant to live in these projects. One could not integrate into hatred and rejection. One could not integrate into these ghettos; putting us all in one place. How could you condemn us for segregation? You’ve been encouraging it since the slums in Nanterre…
My respect is violated; despite so called human rights. It’s hard to be French without the Stockholm Syndrome. I am black, muslim and from the ghetto, and proud to be. Thanks to you, I’m what everyone hates to see…
I am grateful to be here but I will never say “Thank You.” I have earned everything I have with my own two hands.
This song is a mirror; France needs to look at herself because she needs to see herself without the illusions. Understand I am no longer in need of her affection. I am no longer waiting for her to love me.
– Afro-Europe International Blog’s post, “The Migration of Black People from the Caribbean to Europe”, shared some insightful history on this specific migration. It was very interesting to me since my grandfather and my grandmother’s siblings were a part of this migration. However, the obvious and painful truth lies within its history; these immigrants were allowed in to the UK and Europe, not being seen or accepted as equal citizens but as cheap labor. I spoke to my grandfather about it and he filled me in on the mistreatment him, his colleagues and family members experienced during those times because they were Afro-Caribbean i.e. black and the difficulty to find work.
– In the article “Good-bye to My American Dream” by Tiffanie Drayton, Tiffanie shares her encounters with racism, stereotypes and racial identity growing up as an Afro-Caribbean immigrant in the USA within the 30th Century. It is appalling to find out that she had to deal with racism like this in this day and age. She came to the realization that America and its dream was not for her and chose to leave the country.
– The short documentary “Fair?” about skin color in India, depicts the views of fairer and dark skin in the Indian culture. Many are obsessed with skin lightening creams and ways to make their skin fairer to make them feel more beautiful and desirable. One of the heartbreaking parts was a little boy who mentioned he puts powder on his face to look lighter but when he sweats the powder comes of and he is black again. **sigh**
– Another documentary called “Lighter Skin is More Beautiful. So use Bleaching Cream.” is another look at how colorism affects the modeling and fashion industry in the UK. An Indian journalist from the UK takes a look at the reality of the preference of fairer skin and delves into the reason why it is preferred and if bleaching cream is the answer for darker skinned individuals. She also realizes the effects of colorism in her own family.
– Today, for the first time, I watched the documentary
But let us go back to what I mentioned before about this issue possibly going deeper than skin color and further back than colonization. I emphasized that I believe it does and this is why.
Hate. Hate is the root of racism. Racism is just one of the faces of hatred. In addition, hatred is usually coupled with a superiority complex. Wherever there is hate there is a feeling on the behalf of the one who hates that they are superior or right in comparison to the one that is hated. Humanity also has a tendency, to dislike or, in extreme, hate what is different. The almost inevitable conclusion that follows the realization of someone’s difference is that their difference is “wrong”, even if there is no reasonable evidence to back that conclusion. Then, if the “right” people out number, are stronger than, or have the ability to manipulate and conquer the “wrong” people, the “right” people start to impose their views on the “wrong” people until the “wrong” people make it their own. Makes sense?
Believe me, if there was no such thing as “race”, humans will always find a way to hate one another… which they already do. In Africa you have Tribalism where tribes consider themselves better or superior to another tribe especially if the tribe had war in the past and one tribe conquered another. In places like India, you have Casteism where there is segregation among social classes based on hereditary rank, profession or wealth and, of course, superiority complexes ensue. A sub-category under casteism (and also among certain races), is Colorism or Shadism where segregation and superiority is based on one’s complexion. In most countries there is Classism where superiority is based on social or economic class and, consequently, segregation follows. There is also Sexism where superiority or inferiority is based on one’s gender.
Somehow or someway humans will find a way to exhibit the hate that is already in their hearts to one another. There is a tendency in humans to want to feel superior to someone or to a certain group of people. Unfortunately, this way of operating only exposes our insecurity and our lack of self-love.
When asked what the greatest commandment of the law was, Jesus stated this:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Martin Luther King said:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
The law of love will work, just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not. Just as a scientist will work wonders out of various applications of the law of nature, even so a man who applies the law of love with scientific precision can work greater wonders….
The answer was, is and always will be… LOVE.
It sounds cliché and redundant but it’s the TRUTH; one of the most significant truths, if not the most, in this world. Left to our rational minds and feelings we can never fully comprehend this truth on our own. It is not in our nature to love what hates us. Love is divine and only the Creator can open our hearts to walk in unconditional love as He does and expresses towards us every day of our lives. We have to choose to walk in love daily; to put aside pain, hurt, confusion, frustration and operate in love. That requires God’s help.
The healing starts when we start to love OURSELVES. Though people of color have been taught to hate themselves they must learn to see themselves through God’s eyes. God spoke to the Samuel the priest and told him:
For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
So if God does not judge us by our outward appearance, we have no right to judge others or ourselves in that way. It’s funny how, the same Bible that the slave masters used to enslave the Africans and justify their wrong held the truth that proved them wrong. Smh.
Your heart and soul is the gift or the curse you give to others. Do a “heart check.” See if your heart is broken, unforgiving or in the wrong state and ask God to fix it. When we start the healing with ourselves then we can help to heal others.
Carrying the disdain of the world is a heavy burden for people of color and I admire and have so much respect for them because so many still thrive and survive and rise above the stereotypes, expectations and hate sent their way. They rise up to prove that they are more than a title, label or color. They, too, are human beings with hearts, desires and goals who desire to love and be loved and they can choose to love beyond the hate that they receive.
Being black may be a burden for some to bear in this broken world but it is also our blessing and with God and in God we can be made whole, we are loved, we are beautiful and we are conquerors. We are made in His image and likeness. We are fearfully and wonderfully made! Take pride in being the creation of a loving God and Father.
The Apostle Paul said it best:
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”