It’s 3:20 am…..
I’m not being as productive as I need to be (with papers due, past work deadlines, emails to send, information to relay). Instead, as it usually is at this time of the night for me, I am bombarded with thoughts – some creative, some troubling, all of them provoking in one way or the other.
This time around, it’s a seemingly random video post that I saw on my Facebook page, where a African-American male was critiquing, quite passionately, two pictures of what he claims is the same female.
What gets me, is the utterly disrespectful manner in which this individual proceeds to rant about the pictures. He calls the female “Ape” in a picture where she is notably darker and has on no makeup. He says ” N*gger, you go from Cocoa Crunch Black to Mocha Latte” . He claims, that males have trust issues, which he attributes to them being confused about these women who are changing their features.
Now, everyone is free to express themselves how they want to. I’ve come to realize that, unfortunately, freedom of speech does not guarantee mature and responsible verbalizations. We berate people of European descent who use the N word but weld it with such aplomb when we desire to, in the most offensive manner. I’ve never understood (I guess Caribbean sensibilities) how a people who have experienced so much oppression, continued stereotyping and prejudice, could delight in using that word so much. I’m at a loss for words to describe how offensive I find it.
This rant also represents, in my purview, a deep hatred of ourselves. Many will disagree with me, I’m sure. I live in the Caribbean where I see so many instances of bleaching and abnormal body modification attempts that it pains me when one of our own, through a very powerful and far reaching medium, can casually turn on a significant issue into a public spectacle to gain attention. I’m sure he has not thought about the repercussions and how it looks to others who are not black. Who needs other races to tear us down when we are so expert at doing it to each other?
My take is that everyone tries to present their best selves to the public. Some females go to what others may view as extreme, but then its all a matter of one’s point of view. I believe its anyone’s call to be who they are, to present the image they have of themselves to the public, in the way they want to. Who are you and I to dictate how an individual should present themselves? Isn’t that encroaching on one’s individual freedom?
I’ve had discussions before with individuals regarding the psychology of colour and race and how history and socialization has taught people of colour (no matter the race) to view beauty by European standards. I’m reminded of an experiment I did some time ago in a class . A student did an informal poll of men, showing them pictures of two females of African descent, one with Euro-centric clothing, hair extensions and makeup and the other with short, un-processed hair who was also expertly made up. 8 out of 10 males chose the female with the hair extension and stated that the other female was ‘pretty’ but her hair was too short. It led to a heated class discussion of how hypocritical men of African descent could be as they critique women who attire themselves in a particular manner to attract them and yet they are harshly criticized when they do this. They claim to want the ‘natural girl’ yet reject her for looking too ‘African’.
In defence of the men and the women who evaluate themselves negatively, I have argued that it’s mainly due to years of socialization and seasoning. We have been taught, over centuries, to evaluate ourselves by Euro-centric ideals. It requires systematic re-education on self love, appreciation and acceptance of each other, just as we were created, to make a change for the better. I guess I can use socialization to excuse his glaring ignorance.
I looked at my own washed face, sans makeup, with tired yet happy eyes at close to 4 am in the morning…..
..and think, wow, I’m beautifully and wonderfully made. I’m sure there’s someone who would think differently.