Racism, Colorism and Power *LINK*
Posted By: Ayinde In Response To: Questions (Eja)
Date: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, at 12:27 p.m.
In Response To: Questions (Eja)
By Larry D. Crawford (Mwalimu A. Bomani Baruti)
Most of us would have little to no problem agreeing that the range of color Afrikan people possess is awesome. Black, in all its splendid hues, is indeed beautiful. It should also go without saying, that this variation is useless as an index for judging individual beauty, intelligence, aspirations and the like. One’s complexion is intrinsically irrelevant to any and all of these qualities.
Yet we practice the European model of a racial hierarchy. And, having adopted it, any value we believe we independently, consciously or not, attach to different complexions in our community is merely a pathetic imitation of its racist beliefs at the societal level. So, in this new age of consciousness raising it must be realized that we cannot embrace a color-based hierarchy among Afrikans without, at some level, accepting as truth a hierarchy of color among humans. There is no denying that the social organization of our community along lines of color precisely mimics the order fabricated by white supremacy. Black America (Afrikans) serves as a classic microcosm in white supremacy’s global macrocosm. The only appreciable difference is that we "discriminate" without power.
Therefore, since in fact we are guilty of complicity, one of the most fundamental questions we need to answer is why it is so critically important to some in our midst that we not discuss the skin tone stratification that does in fact exist in our community. Why is it that even the most intelligent exchange we have about how we perceive and treat each other individually, as a reaction to others’ reaction against how much pigment the Creator gave us collectively, is considered taboo or "airing our dirty laundry," even among ourselves? There is nothing wrong with range in complexion, or in liking your complexion wherever it may fall along that range. That should be a given. The problem is in the heavy and almost exclusive fascination with one end of that spectrum, the end perceived as closest to the European.
The almost immediate response when opening this already tender wound again is, "Why do we have to go there?" "Why are we dealing with a dead issue?" The assumption is that if we don’t talk about it it will somehow just go away. Essential to this acquiescence is the belief that everyone, especially Europeans deep down in their hearts, if we just patiently show them how by setting a nonviolent moral example, wants race to become irrelevant. In other words, if we state that we bear no identity other than human, we will by default become this in practice and eventually reality. That is an attitude of the vanquished from fear, from ignorance. For as Bobby E. Wright warned negroes, negroettes and other lost souls, "It is pathological for blacks to keep attempting to use moral suasion on a people who have no morality where race is the variable." What really happens when we won’t talk about it, when it is left to fester, is that it gains power among those individuals who have a vested interest in not discussing it because they tend to benefit disproportionately from it (be they others or some of us falling at the overemphasized end of the spectrum or hungrily lapping up the crumbs given to them for maintaining divisions among their own). Political silence from the dispossessed always strengthens those privileged by the status quo.
Ignoring it will not make it go away. It never has. It never will. If history teaches us anything, it demonstrates when things that can harm us are intentionally ignored they will eventually return with a vengeance on those arrogant, fearful or even careless enough to dismiss them. Universal law does not allow us to perpetually sweep pain under a rug. It accumulates until there is too much to be contained. Then, it returns like "chickens coming home to roost."
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