Category Archives: race

Ari Lennox and Teyana Taylor Are Beautiful Women Not Rottweilers

I was happily scrolling through social media when I noticed Teyana as a trending topic. I am a fan of her music so I click the hashtag. To my dismay, she was not trending because a new song or dope video had dropped. Teyana Taylor and fellow singer Ari Lennox were trending topics due to the viral tweet below:

Image result for ari lennox teyana tweet king kwasii"

Colorism, Featurism, and the Black Woman

I never understood or really got colorism. I was never called light-skinned until college when I became very aware of an invisible line of demarcation, separation, and mistrust between black women based on skin shade. I have grown to learn more about colorism and featurism via novels by Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, my own study minoring in African American Studies, articles, and YouTube testimonials based on lived experiences.

Merriam-Webster defines Colorism as:

prejudice or discrimination especially within a racial or ethnic group favoring people with lighter skin over those with darker skin. Source

For a quick cultural reference, see Spike Lee’s School Daze. There is a musical dance battle between the light-skinned ‘Wannabes” and dark-skinned ‘Jiggaboos’ that highlights the tension between black women who fall into those perceived categories. The idea is that women who are ‘light-skinned’ are seen as more desirable by men, specifically black men in this case, than darker skinned women.

There seems to a subcateogry of colorism called featurism. As noted by writer Nia Hernandez,

The official definition of featurism is “A form of architectural design based around certain accentuated features”. In other context, society accepting or preferring certain features over others (i.e. European features over African features). Source

In the case of Ari Lennox, she has previously responded to criticism of her nose or wide nostrils. Teyana Taylor has received similar critique of her facial features. If we are to keep it real, a lot of the ‘you so ugly’ jokes center around facial features that are more afrocentric or our misconception of what is afrocentric. (Africa is a huge continent of over a billion people in over 50 countries. African Americans are the decedents of enslaved Africans who mainly came from the African West Coast countries.) We typically associate wide noses, textured hair, and dark skin as African features and all of the negative ideas that have been linked to that. ‘Beautiful’ black women are those whose features align more with perceived eurocentric standards of beauty; slim noses, lighter skin, softer textured hair.

When a Joke is Not Just a Joke:

There is a  malignant  history of race-based pseudoscience associating black people to animals  which metastasized into racist eugenics ideology. The idea that black people are animalistic or subhuman affects their treatment by others in society  in many areas, such as, politics, education, healthcare, law enforcement.

I believe the ease at which other black people make these types of jokes is rooted in ignorance. Comparing a black woman to a rottweiler dog is not funny; it is also not benign. Clearly the young man making the comment and the many who cosigned his statement through likes and retweets have not heard of the Human Zoo built by King Leopold of Belgium to showcase the Congolese people to Europeans. This display only highlights the actual reign of terror and genocide inflicted by Belgium on the nation of Congo.

Funny yet? 

Comparing these two young talented women to a dog associated with being dangerous and aggressive is associating their aesthetic with danger and aggressiveness.  These are the same stereotypes surrounding unarmed black men who are shot and killed at  7 times the rate of unarmed non-black males. We cannot become complicit in our own dehumanization. There is a history of this behavior being acceptable and normalized.

In this new decade, we will denormalize it.

Let’s start 2020 out right by calling out disrespect and putting haters in their place –  the trash.

Black Men As Sympathetic Characters

I have seen two movies in less than a week, Sorry To Bother You and Equalizer 2. There will be no recaps as this is not a movie review. Suffice it to say, see both. They are really good.

What struck me most about both films, is the presence of a black male character for whom the audience roots for. In the era of #BlackLivesMatter and the death of young black men scattered throughout social media, it is not characteristic of mainstream media to showcase these men in a sympathetic light. Trayvon Martin at 15 was described as a man and portrayed as a thug. Michael Brown was portrayed in the same manner. It is notable to see young black men on screen, imperfect and yet deserving of empathy and protection. Lakeith

The character Chris Washington in Jordan Peele’s Get Out had audiences cheering for a dark-skinned black male as he fought white oppressors to free himself from a prison they had lured him into. Talk about revolutionary. In, Sorry to Bother You, the main character Cassius Green, fights selling out to “the man” and capitalistic oppression of others. In Equalizer 2, Denzel Washington’s character Robert McCall risks his life to save a young black man entangled with gangs and drugs.

The characterization of these black male characters as human, relatable, and sympathetic is an act of resistance. It is also why representation matters. We need African American creatives of all types making movies, TV shows, books, sculptures, architecture – projecting a vision of ourselves into the future. I am hoping that the works of Ryan Coogler,  Antoine Fuqua, Jordan Peele, Boots Riley, are trailblazing and not just trend.

I am finishing up Parable of the Sower  by Octavia Butler. I read recently that Ava Duvernay is bringing Butler’s Dawn, to screen. I am looking forward to a similar wave of heroic black female characters for audiences to cheer for being brought to life.

Should Race Matter in Business?

As you may know from the previous post, some ne'er-do-well hit my car while it was parked and kept going. Today I go to get quotes on the fix. I try a recommended shop (black-owned) and was told that the repairs would easily be over $1,000 dollars. I should have known she was going to go high when she asked if my insurance was going to cover it. Like, what does that have to do with you quoting me a price lady. I tell her that I just need it to be drivable not look good. She says she will not touch it unless she can do the full repairs.

On to the next one!
Temp

My next stop happens to be a non-black owned business. An older white guy who looks like he has been doing this for some time takes a look at it. He says, like the previous lady, that if he replaces the whole panel it will be over $1,000. I state again that I dont care about cosmetics I just need the car to run with the wheel not scrubbing the metal. He says well, ok, and quotes me $273.00. I am not sure if that is a good price or not. I just know that it is leaps and bounds from over $1,000.

I have heard the mantra support minority-owned businesses for a long-time. I know some entrepreneurs who are great business people. My questions is should race ever matter when selecting a business? I understand about city-contracts and racism, nepotism, and the like. I mean in everyday consumer economics, does it matter? Is it racist (as black people) to choose a business based on the color of the owner? Does service and other factors count?

This is just a question that has been bouncing around in my mind since this incident. I would like some input please.

 

Blues for Mr. Charlie – James Baldwin

I was going to go see Think Like A Man when I decided to do something a little more intellectually stimulating. I perused my email for event alerts and check out Art and Seek and find that SMU is performing a James Baldwin play. I recalled reading the play in college so I thought this may be interesting and it is only $13.00.

I was simply blown away. The caliber of production and acting was far above what I have seen in college productions. There were a couple of weak cast members but overall quite professional.

Above the production quality the story drama was shockingly relevant today. Let me backtrack a bit. Blues for Mr Charlie is about the killing of a young, cocky black man who comes back to the south after being "ruined" up North by a white man. The dialogue and character development are so layered. Baldwin gets into the psyche of his characters and the story develops into something more complex than the black versus the white side of things. A picture of Trayvon Martin hauntingly swung from a tree wrapped in newspaper headlines.

I cannot tell you how Think Like A Man ends. I have heard a thing or too about Michael Ealy and a seen with Taraji Henson and chocolate. lol I can tell you that I made the right entertainment choice and left the theater feeling a little more enlightened than when I came.

Latino and Black

There is a new PBS documentary, "Black and Latino." The issue of colorism among people of Latino descent is discussed.

I find this clip very interesting. A lot of the same issues of light skinned/dark skinned that are discussed among African Americans, in this documentary have a spanish twist.

 

And yes that is Laz Alonso looking all types of yummy in this video. lol

Suprisingly Latino:

1. My girl, Lola Falana. Her father was a Cuban immigrant.

2. Tatynana Ali – Panamanian and Trinidadian descent.