Before moving on to Part 2, here's a dialogue (initially posted in the comments' space here)
I (B.) had with a sista (A.) a couple of years ago on this issue:
A: These sort of things happening around us, are the ones that make Black children have low self esteem.
I was saddened by reading an article in The Voice this week, that black Children of ages four to six who were interviewed using a BLACK and a WHITE DOLL, they preferred the white doll, and not only that they also preferred to be white, because BLACK IS A DIRTY COLOUR. How sad can that be.
It does not make it any better, when you find some of our Black sisters trying to BLEACH and become lighter. Is that a sign of having inferiority complex or what?
We as Black should also stop being racist against one another first. I have witnessed cases in families, where one child might have a lighter skin then the other, and the lighter skin child seems to think he or she is better and prettier.
Sorry if I have said too much, but the whole thing makes me very sad.
B: I'm not sure if I know you, but since I was the first to react to this message, I felt that I should also say something on your comment.
Let me say first that I wouldn't normally react to this sort of thing as I did, particularly if my reaction can be misinterpreted as "attention seeking" or something of that sort. However, I decided in the last few years to no longer accumulate certain feelings inside for fear of retaliation. Put briefly: I've had enough of getting all sorts of blows from all sides: BLACK, WHITE, BROWN or YELLOW, in most cases without even understanding WHY!
You are absolutely right about the low-self esteem of some of our children, but who buys them the white dolls in the first place?
You are also right about the black women attempting to lighten their skin, to which I would add those who wear wigs, "white hair extensions", etc., but if these are adult women why do they do that? Isn't it in the first place because black men prefer them like that, or simply because black women have that perception?
Now going to the point that affects me particularly, I happen to be someone who was born with a lighter skin in my family, but I never felt better or prettier than anyone because of that. However, I find it interesting that you talk about the lighter-skinned child "feeling superior", but not of the darker-skinned one "feeling inferior" for no fault of the lighter-skinned and just attacking and bullying her senseless because of her own feelings of inferiority. Another way in which this manifests itself is through jealousy whereby the "lighter skinned" one is invariably perceived as a rival that can take other's men... so, "before she does that, let's keep her far away"! So, basically, I would like to call attention to the need for people not being one-sided in their analysis of "black racism against each other".
In any case, the message I really wanted to pass with my initial comment was that we ALL tend to react more to what goes on in the outside world through the media or high profile campaigns while totally ignoring what goes around us in OUR OWN families, neighbourhoods and close communities.
Sorry if I said too much as well, but there's no other way to mutual understanding than talking openly about this sort of thing.
A: May be the word racist was a bit too much. May be I should have said colour prejudice amongst us blacks.
An incident occured at my work place today. I have a very dark complexion, so this African lady of a lighter complexion asked me where I am from, I told her and her answer was "I thought so". being an African, she should know that where she comes from, there also dark skinned people like me. No wonder our children grow up feeling inferior.
Don't worry about what people think of you, as the saying goes, no one can fit into your skin BUT YOU.
B: Well, I would suggest that in face of that kind of accident you should confront directly the person in question and not keep it inside you to hold it as a grudge against all light-skinned black people. That's what I would've appreciated all throughout my life when I was being attacked, bullied and abused because of my skin tone, complexion, or whatever... That hurts much more than when coming from white people or any other race and this has to be realised by blacks of ALL "colours"!
And it's not just a matter of hurting, it's a matter of causing long term damage to other people for no valid reason or for a reason that could be resolved through a healthy discussion.
I could tell you countless real stories happened to me in a workplace I recently had in Africa: all around darker people bullying me out of my job not just because of my skin complexion, but because I was living in Europe, or had better academic qualifications and experience... To such a point that they ganged-up on me with even some of their worst enemies of other races who also wanted to get rid of me for their own reasons... And this was Afrika! And all this because of inferiority complexes of "darker-skinned" sistas...
Sorry if once again I said too much!
...Dividends of "shadeism"...
IS BEYONCE' A RACE TRAITOR?
The virtual clean sweep enjoyed by Beyonce at the Grammys was proof of one thing — modern music is in bad shape.
Okay, a white, 30-something Irish bloke probably isn’t the exact target market for a black woman who purveys a blend of soulless, poptastic R&B and while, in fairness, some of her songs are infuriatingly catchy, let’s get real — we’re not exactly talking about Ella Fitzgerald here.
But she seems like a pleasant enough modern pop creation who is careful not to say anything that would alienate her fanbase.
So, you would think that after her success at the Grammys, she is an inspiration to black women. But you would be wrong. And quite possibly a racist as well.
Beyonce had blonde hair at the awards and this prompted black commentator Teshima Walker of National Public Radio to fume: “I know that blonde hair is associated with white women and beauty. I saw how men respond to girls and women with golden hair … But now I think maybe black stars should help African-American women release the hold that blonde hair has had on us.”
... Film suggestions for brothers & sisters of all shades
... Related Books and Articles
In a book of sophisticated critical theory that could be used as a tool for antiracist political action, Collins (Charles Phelps Taft Professor of Sociology, Univ. of Cincinnati; Black Feminist Thought) asserts that "racism and sexism are deeply intertwined, and racism can never be solved without seeing and challenging sexism."
In Black Sexual Politics, one of America's most influential writers on race and gender explores how images of Black sexuality have been used to maintain the color line and how they threaten to spread a new brand of racism around the world today. The ideal of pure white womanhood, Collins argues, required the invention of hot-blooded Latinas, exotic Suzy Wongs, and wanton jezebels -- images that persist in the media today in everything from animal-skin bikinis to the creation of the "welfare mom." Men confront a similar bias in a society that defines African American males as drug dealers, brutish athletes, irresponsible fathers, and rapists. Collins dissects the widespread impact of these distorted messages as she explores African American love relationships, sex in youth culture, interracial romance, sexual violence, and HIV/AIDS.
Published in 1990, Patricia Hill Collins's Black Feminist Thought was one of the first full-length works to address the then-burgeoning field of Black women's studies; the text tackled issues as varied as work, motherhood, and sexuality from an avowedly Black feminist perspective. Indeed, in the decade and a half since its publication, the book has proven to be required reading for anyone undertaking the serious study of race and gender politics in the United States.
There is a long history of sexualizing the black body with disastrous consequences - from lynchings in the South to the 'high-tech' lynchings of recent past. Collins looks at the ways African-American women's bodies have always been on display, from Josephine Baker to Destiny's Child, and the contradictory images of black masculinity from Michael Jackson to Michael Jordan. Collins also turns her gaze to sexualized love relationships, examining such important topics as black sexuality, black youth culture and sex, love across the colour line, violence and HIV/ AIDS.In the tradition of her best-selling Black Feminist Thought, Collins turns her critical eye to the topics of race and sexuality, providing analysis of sex and sexuality in relation to not just black women, but black men as well, a significant departure for her work.
[More details here]