Sunday, October 24, 2010

Internalized Racism

Black is Beautiful
Internalized racism still exists in today’s society. Many people throughout the world experiences internalized racism one way or another. When Malcolm X, was growing up in the thirties many African Americans subconsciously absorb the notion that “having a lighter skin complexion and having white features was always better than having darker skin complexion with afro centric features.  Malcolm X experienced internalized racism at a very young age from his parents and society. Malcolm X shared many stories throughout his autobiography about incidents he encountered from being light skinned. Malcolm X even depicted himself and said “I was among the million of Negroes who were insane enough to feel that it was some kind of status symbol to be light-complexioned- that one was fortunate to be born thus. I learned to hate every drop of that white rapist’s blood that was in me”. That statement alone tells us of Malcolm X character and the fact that he hated being light skinned in every way possible and also had that same ideology that every other African American holds to this day.
Malcolm X father Reverend Earl Little, was a strong African American man who had strong values and believes and was under the influence of Marcus Garvey (who was an Jamaican Activist) and was one of his followers for his organization U.N.I.A (Universal Negro Improvement Association), who was raising the banner of black-race purity and exhorting the Negro masses to return to their ancestral African homeland. Yet, Mr. Little with his strong beliefs absorbs this mentality. He was belligerent to his the rest of his children but favored Malcolm because of his light complexion. Malcolm was never scolded by his dad and used to accompany his father to his U.N.I.A meetings. And to add insult to injury, Mr. Little married a very fair skin lady who was bi-racial and could pass for a white lady. One can tell by the descriptions I portrayed of Mr. Little the kind of man he was, I wouldn’t necessarily call him a hypocrite of his own preaching’s about the black power movement. Another way Malcolm, encountered internalized racism due to his light complexion was from his mother, it seems in a way his mother held some kind of resentment towards him because of his complexion. She treated the rest of her children who were darker than Malcolm better and gave Malcolm more hell for being light skinned. She used to tell him “Let the sun shine on you so you can get some color.” It’s very ironic how Malcolm’s mother was light skin herself and has some resentment towards Malcolm, because of his complexion. Most likely, because her father was a white rapist and hated every inch of her father, probably that’s one reason why his mother treated him the worst out of her all her children. The message Malcolm X, was trying to address to his readers you can’t judge a book by its cover. For a perfect example, his father a powerful strong follower was brainwashed by this ideology about having a lighter skin complexion is better than being dark skinned.
In my personal opinion, people still have this ideology about being light skinned and having white features. Decades upon decades many African American women mainly dark skin women wanted to be lighter and weren’t satisfied with themselves because of this. Many of them use bleaching cream and make-up to make them appear lighter than they are. Also using straightening products, such as relaxers and flat irons to make them look like they have straight soft hair and not nappy course like hair. This ideology was brainwashed in societies mind from the beginning of time, but I do also believe that the media plays a major role with this belief has well. Many models on videos and magazines are usually light-skinned with soft beautiful long hair. And many females’ even little girls have low self-esteem about them and can’t accept themselves for who they are. I really do believe it’s sad to see African American women go out their way to be something or someone their not.  I believe black is beautiful, the darker and softer your complexion is makes you more beautiful and exotic. In today’s society, we have strong African American females such as Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelo and Condoleezza  Rice to name a few who embrace and love the fact their African American with afro centric features. Below I have a poem that really stood out to me.

A Black Woman, Nothing Else
There used to be a time when
I was ashamed of my skin.
I received tormenting jokes
from all of my friends.

Of course it wasn't done
to make me feel this way
But being black gave me much dismay.
"African, charcoal, Black Baby",
I would hear

But no one even noticed or knew
that I had silent tears.
Those names became nicknames and
I'd hear them everyday at school
‘Cause when I was young and growing up
I'd play by my peers rules.

One day when I was still young
my father left us all
and married a white woman
who beckoned his every call.

I was really ashamed of my skin then,
I thought it was very bad,
I thought the white woman had something
which I could never have.

But one day when I was still young
I met a black lady darker than I was,
she cherished and boasted that her
Color was a gift from above.

She told me that I was beautiful -
Something no one had ever done.
She said, "your skin is
So black and smooth-

Which shows the perfecting of the sun".
She said, "To match the pretty black skin
Your teeth are white as snow
And I'm sure that you will show them
Everywhere that you go".
Everyday she would tell me this
And her words began to spread.
They came from other people
I never even met.
The words of my friends changed to,
"Let me feel your face
And let me see you grin"-
For sister, you are beautiful-
Be proud of the color of your skin.

Now, I'm not ashamed of my skin
Though obstacles it may bring.
I proclaim to the world that I am
A Black Woman, the element of spring.

I blossom with happiness
And pride within myself
For I am A Black Woman
And I wish to be nothing else.


1 comment:

  1. Interesting post and response to the text - I didn't quite think of it exactly that way - the irony of Malcolm's father preferring him and his mother disfavoring him for the same reason, despite being the one with lighter skin - a very powerful illustration of internalized racism.

    It's interesting how you describe the extent to which things have changed and to which they haven't - - we'll be looking at what the Black Power and Black Arts movement did to try to change this, and the extent to which you think they were successful . . .