Re: 'Colorism' is Alive and Well
Posted By: gman In Response To: Re: 'Colorism' is Alive and Well (Ayinde)
Date: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, at 2:42 p.m.
In Response To: Re: 'Colorism' is Alive and Well (Ayinde)
Just replied to this but the internet crashed. Coming again:
Maybe my statement was too simplistic. The black-skinned Wall Street exec is more *economically* privileged. Going along with that are privileges such as: not having to wake up and go to sleep to the sound of gunshots and sirens every day; not having to worry about if rent will be made this month, if your kids will have enough to eat, etc. If the Wall Street exec is of a "conscious" frame of mind (which is not impossible... the rapper Paris took a break from emceeing to make a bunch of money on Wall Street, which enabled him to start his own company putting out music and propaganda, instead of being pimped by a white-controlled company)... then he can afford to take a year off, go to Africa and explore his roots, learn an African language, etc. The brother in the hood might want to do that but he is not likely to get the chance.
On the other hand, having money doesn't mean the cops can't put a bullet in your brain. Or harrass you all the time cos they're jealous that you're driving a car they can't afford. It does mean you can afford a good lawyer though. (Not trying to reduce everything to the issue of how police treat us, but it's just the first example that springs to mind... it is after all one of the clearest most direct ways in which racism is expressed in amerikkka.) "If you ain't got the dream team, then you ain't winning yo case"- the late Soulja Slim of N.O., LA. OJ Simpson was privileged to afford the dream team.
Most wealthy people are born wealthy- born with economic privilege. This applies less to African people in america, so I suppose you could say the brother may have "earned" his privilege more than most economically privileged people. But having a lot of money is still privilege in my book.
There's other ways you could look at the word "privilege". I'll talk about my own family. My aunts and uncles on my mum's side are all African with some Carib blood, two are black-skinned and two are brown-skinned. My black-skinned uncle "J" is relatively wealthy, probably the person with the most money on either side of my fam. (Which he got through hard work and determination). He moved out of his apartment in Queens and now lives in White Plains NY (there's a reason it's called White Plains). Pretty little suburb, he and his fam are the only black faces on the block. My aunt "M" is brown-skinned, dreadlocks, has lived in the same tiny apartment in Bed Stuy from since the 80s raising four youths and going through nuff tribulations. Where she is is definitely considered "ghetto". Between the two of them there's absolutely no question who is more economically privileged. (Leaving out the question of "earning" it or whatever- although my aunt has certainly worked very hard throughout her life too- just talking about what privileges people got now, regardless how they got them).
On the other hand, my aunt is privileged to live on a block where she knows everybody, is loved and respected by most, where she can always find someone to baby-sit or whatever if needs be, where there is a strong social support network of Rastas, Guyanese, West Indians and Black people period. Her neighbors come to her for advice and help and she could go to them for advice and help. She's privileged to be a part of a culturally vibrant and dynamic neighborhood full of forward-thinking Black people giving each other energy and inspiration.
Where my uncle lives would certainly be considered a far more privileged area but is it really for him? Well he chose to live there so probably it is to him but I can't help thinking... could he go to any of his neighbors for help if he needed it? Don't his neighbors probably hate his black donkey behind their polite howdyoudos? How many times have the cops pulled him over on his way home? Are the cops MORE likely to mess with him than my aunt, cos they jealous that he drives a nice car, and he's a big tall black-skinned male? (Which introduces gender into the equation- normally overall women have less privilege, but I think in amerikkka they are a bit less likely to be shot in the head by the pigs... not much of a "privilege" but you can't knock being alive, as opposed to dying.)
So I could see that "privilege" encompasses more things than just economic privilege and that my initial statement was too simplistic.
I do think that economic privilege is a hell of an important type of privilege though, since so much about your life in a capitalist system is determined by your economic position.
The above probably wasn't the most coherent statement I've ever made. Maybe I'm further confusing the issue. Tell me what is your perspective on it.
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