Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hueism: No More Paper Bag Test


As though life isn't difficult enough living as a person of colour in this world, Blacks have another added dimension hueism/colorism in our society.  We tell ourselves that black is beautiful, but do we really believe that when we elevate the lighter skinned amongst us?

When we look through black celebrities, particularly those that are female, many of them are lighter skinned.  It is a though we have decided as a community to elevate those of us that are closest in resemblance to the white mans pride; white women.

We have no cultural beauty standard of our own; instead we have co-opted features based on a Eurocentric concept of what is considered attractive.   For women this is particularly problematic as there are very few paths to power. Though beauty declines in value as we age, black women are not able to leverage the power of their bodies in the same way as white women. 

The drive to reduce the melanin in our skin became an imperative the moment it was understood by black slaves, that it was what served as a marker of difference.  Despite hundreds of years of struggle the lack of equality still causes people of colour to covet whiteness. 

It is not that Eurocentric features are any more beautiful than those typically inherited by those with African American genes, as in most instances it comes down to social power.  As Foucault said in everywhere and in everything there is always power.  We desire it and constantly act in pursuit of it.

The unfortunate part about the internalization of white values as a path to power, is that instead of uplifting us as a community it has become a Quixotic quest.  We cannot obliterate our blackness, and we cannot assume whiteness.  The racial black/white binary will continue on as long as we seek to mirror our oppressors.

Yes, the power of whiteness is seductive.  Whiteness need not apologize, it can simply consume bodies of colour like a cancer, destroying our sense of identity, and human dignity.  In what cannot be described as anything other than feckless adoration, we pander along like simpering puppies  awaiting the scraps from the masters table.  We fight amongst ourselves for a seat at table that offers us nothing more than poisonous fruit. 

Drunk on the chalice of whiteness we fight amongst ourselves declaring each unworthy by standards not created by us.  We do not even realize that by our self hatred we are doing the masters work.  Instead of working to free ourselves from the chains the bind us, we only wrap them tighter around ourselves at the behest of another. 

Though we are appear to be free, socially our minds are still colonized. Mental slavery is how our bondage lives on today. For the first time a black man is going to inhabit 1600 Pennsylvania ave, and yet the visceral self hatred continues.  Though Obama serves as an excellent example of the potential of blackness no one man can uplift us.  This is not biblical times, and his middle name is not Moses, Joshua, or Jesus.  He is a man just like any other.

It is up to the individual to find the strength within hirself, no mystical messiah is going to alight the throne that will change the power relations within society.  The only path to power is to reject the indoctrination that we are fed.  We must free ourselves one slave at a time.  Power will come not from imitating those who seek to profit from our marginalization, but by standing up and declaring ourselves free.

We are the lost children.  We do not know ourselves, nor do we recognize each other.  From childhood we are taught to reject the face that greats us each morning in the mirror. We put poison in our hair to tame its beautiful wildness, and toxic creams on our skin that destroy its beautiful glow. Blackness will achieve power when we decide that black is power.

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