by Farouk Martins Aresa
How many people have you seen with a real red, white or black skin? For years some “colored” have “passed” for white just as some have “passed” for black. We have to understand people’s anger when actors passed for black to gain fame or undue financial advantage. We wonder out loud when under-represented minorities excelled against all odds then copied by majorities and few minorities get the opportunity to penetrate some privileges to foster cultural diversification.
Many so called whites from southern Europe are darker than some light skin Africans but will never take on the black commitment. It has nothing to do with the color of the skin but it has everything to do with a caste system perpetrated after slavery to enforce economic dominance.
Africa also had its own definition of black. If you are not dark enough, you must be white. It boils down to definition in each environment and majority of the people in control. Dark skin African Americans get cultural shock when so treated even if they are not accepted as white in their own country. Some light skins Africans actually claim relatives and religions outside Africa in the new world, when in fact their ancestors have never left Africa.
American history defined the “one-drop rule,” as anyone with an ancestor that is African. It was used to keep black people from white privilege. On that side are those that were born black but denied it so that they could gain political positions. Some went as far as becoming President of United States or the Pope in Europe. The case of albino is totally different except that in those days, Africans see whites as albino by genetic mutation, which is closer to scientific fact.
Did Rachael Dolezal identifying as black the same as white hip-hop artists or Elvis Presley playing black music frowned upon by white parents? Parents did not want them to listen and dance to black music because they considered them “vulgar and gyrating”. It is easier for whites to be more respected when presented as blacks which disenfranchises blacks. But then, more white and black kids immersed in Hip-hop, sport culture patronize more black than white artists.
Most people of color understand this but they get mad when others are trying to compare their situation which they have no control over or can’t easily “pass”, for the skin color of others. This is why many black people still insist, in spite of offending others, that they cannot be likened to transgender, trans-color or gay because they are comfortable in a color only they have to live with. The fact remains that others also feel more comfortable as trans-whatever or gay.
Nevertheless, there are more varieties of rainbows that see themselves as white than there are white people that are so committed to black causes. Indeed, some are considered Niger-lovers and suffer the consequences or get treated worse than blacks when expedient to do so.
When we say color is only skin deep, this is a scientific fact. But science is not the same as social reality. We have more information and reality checks than ever, so we now understand that a black woman can give birth to twins: one a blue eye blond and the other with darker skin. Each will be treated and accepted differently in the same environment. One white blue eye blond had to warn her husband that there is a chance that one of their children may turn out black!
Black women are especially more offended by Racheal Dolezal identity as black may have its root in how easily white women identify with black men. Somehow sex has a tangential basis if not a dominating role for human behavior, courtesy of Sigmund Freud. It is the same black women that accuse some black men of looking for the closest lady to white skin. We have to be careful here because when some black people pass for white, they hardly make such a splash!
The way black women see white woman is not different from the way white women see Asian women and white men today. Though white women may understand African history but may not realize that their role perpetuates white privilege as much as the stereotypes they want to help fight. As a color commitment many foreign women (white or black) work against misogyny in Africa but the same communities will not tolerate as much assertiveness from local women.
Another extreme was Patty Hearst. When she was deeply entrenched in Symbionese Liberation Army, nobody could convince her she was not black. In order to be so deeply involved, one has to be a religious convert willing to take up the cause of the oppressed. If one can become a religious fanatic, it is easier to see how one could make a color commitment but not necessarily a fanatic. There are different ways of serving a cause, taking up arms is just the worst extreme.
There are mother Theresa spread all over the world that serve peacefully and die in the colors, beliefs and causes of those they serve. Some of them spend so much of their time in the sun, they acquire natural dark skin. Some African women and a few men bleach their skin white or change their hair and operate on their features to look anything but their natural selves as black.
Africans and African Americans have tried very successfully to diminish the “civil” war between different shades of blacks. Cases in point are in the West Indies and South Africa where light skin blacks or “colored” have a higher status than dark skin blacks. It is also easier for them to get jobs and aspire to political positions, even in the U.S.A. So some whites go the opposite way.
It is even more difficult to trace the mixture of those exotic ladies highly in demand by men of all races today. Since some successful black men are also involved in the discrimination against black women, the term MISGYNOIR has evolved to describe how black women are particularly affected or disfavored in getting a man to marry. It becomes easier for white women than white men to “pass” as blacks because more black men than black women accept it.
We can hardly find a pure race in the world no matter how strong the caste culture of skin color.