I will spare you grand pontification and multi-layered arguments in logic and just layout the situation that started it all.
This past semester, I was involved in yet another dreaded group project. Two to be exact but this story begins with my marketing one. We were meeting for the first time trying to figure out our individual strengths lie. Someone suggested that we go around the table to describe ourselves. I think we had to begin with, "If I had to describe myself in 3 words. . ." or something to that effect.
I said something like creative, hard-working, smart. Each member described themselves in similar descriptives. We get to this one Mexican girl with a heavy Spanish accent and she says, "If I had to describe myself, first of all I would say that I'm white." WTH.
That statement stuck out like a sore thumb. Every time I think about her I think of that 'I am white' comment. I have never heard a run of the mill 'white person' describe themselves as such. I wondered why she saw fit to make that her dominant description.
The election of President Barack Obama has brought race and all of its cliches and misconceptions to the forefront of public discourse. Some argue that part of Obama's appeal is his mixed-race heritage. Obama, to me, defies the common stereotypes and cliches of race, color, and behavior. He is bi-racial but he looks black. He was raised in the multi-cultural Hawaii and poverty-stricken Indonesia. There are a lot of ambiguously Negro people out there that usually get the spotlight. Obama defied the aesthetic convention of light-skin equaling prominence in the black community.
Second, he is married to a dark-skinned sistah. Growing up I was considered light-skinned or brown depending on who I was standing next to and what season of the year it was. I never thought too much about it. To me it was a dumb and false way of categorizing people, esp. in my family where all of us are everywhere on the shade spectrum. I do remember guys saying thing like, 'there is no such thing as an ugly light-skinned girl.' All of the First Ladies (or preacher's wives) were light-skinned with 'good hair'. The 'incognegr o' woman was the ideal. After all, Lena Horne, is the only person to make Ebony Magazine's most beautiful list for 55 years straight. As early as 2000, the magazine was heralding the fact that it could now include the likes of Tyson Beckford and Lauryn Hill in the rankings. 2000! It spoke to something inside of a lot of women that a man like Barack chose his life mate to be a woman with dark-skin, kinky-hair, and round butt. To put it frankly she does not look like a tan 'white' woman.
As I meet and interact with people of other nationalities, it amazes me that some of the same issues of identity and colorism lie in those cultures also. I was shocked to hear Mark Consuelos, Mateo of AMC for all of you soap opera fans, describe himself as dark-skinned. He was relating to some issues with African American males on Oprah.
Interestingly enough, another girl in the group who really looked white (I assumed she was) met me at my house to finish our paper. While there she told me of her experience being a 'light-skinned' Mexican. Had we not met alone, I never would have connected the fact her last name Martinez to her ethnicity because to me she did not 'look it.'
I know this post is all over the place but what are some of your views on this issue?