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Racism, Colorism and Power

Racism, Colorism and Power


By Larry D. Crawford (Mwalimu A. Bomani Baruti)
Most of us would have little to no ro!lem a"reein" that the ran"e of color
Afri#an eole ossess is awesome. Blac#, in all its slendid hues, is
indeed !eautiful. $t should also "o without sayin", that this variation is
useless as an inde% for &ud"in" individual !eauty, intelli"ence, asirations
and the li#e. 'ne(s comle%ion is intrinsically irrelevant to any and all of
these )ualities.
*et we ractice the +uroean model of a racial hierarchy. And, havin"
adoted it, any value we !elieve we indeendently, consciously or not,
attach to different comle%ions in our community is merely a athetic
imitation of its racist !eliefs at the societal level. ,o, in this new a"e of
consciousness raisin" it must !e reali-ed that we cannot em!race a color.
!ased hierarchy amon" Afri#ans without, at some level, accetin" as truth
a hierarchy of color amon" humans. /here is no denyin" that the social
or"ani-ation of our community alon" lines of color recisely mimics the
order fa!ricated !y white suremacy. Blac# America (Afri#ans) serves as a
classic microcosm in white suremacy(s "lo!al macrocosm. /he only
arecia!le difference is that we 0discriminate0 without ower.
/herefore, since in fact we are "uilty of comlicity, one of the most
fundamental )uestions we need to answer is why it is so critically
imortant to some in our midst that we not discuss the s#in tone
stratification that does in fact e%ist in our community. 1hy is it that even
the most intelli"ent e%chan"e we have a!out how we erceive and treat
each other individually, as a reaction to others( reaction a"ainst how much
i"ment the Creator "ave us collectively, is considered ta!oo or 0airin" our
dirty laundry,0 even amon" ourselves2 /here is nothin" wron" with ran"e
in comle%ion, or in li#in" your comle%ion wherever it may fall alon"
that ran"e. /hat should !e a "iven. /he ro!lem is in the heavy and almost
e%clusive fascination with one end of that sectrum, the end erceived as
closest to the +uroean.
/he almost immediate resonse when oenin" this already tender wound
a"ain is, 01hy do we have to "o there20 01hy are we dealin" with a dead
issue20 /he assumtion is that if we don(t tal# a!out it it will somehow
&ust "o away. +ssential to this ac)uiescence is the !elief that everyone,
esecially +uroeans dee down in their hearts, if we &ust atiently show
them how !y settin" a nonviolent moral e%amle, wants race to !ecome
irrelevant. $n other words, if we state that we !ear no identity other than
human, we will !y default !ecome this in ractice and eventually reality.
/hat is an attitude of the van)uished from fear, from i"norance. 3or as
Bo!!y +. 1ri"ht warned ne"roes, ne"roettes and other lost souls, 0$t is
atholo"ical for !lac#s to #ee attemtin" to use moral suasion on a
eole who have no morality where race is the varia!le.0 1hat really
haens when we won(t tal# a!out it, when it is left to fester, is that it
"ains ower amon" those individuals who have a vested interest in not
discussin" it !ecause they tend to !enefit disroortionately from it (!e
they others or some of us fallin" at the overemhasi-ed end of the
sectrum or hun"rily lain" u the crum!s "iven to them for maintainin"
divisions amon" their own). Political silence from the disossessed always
stren"thens those rivile"ed !y the status )uo.
$"norin" it will not ma#e it "o away. $t never has. $t never will. $f history
teaches us anythin", it demonstrates when thin"s that can harm us are
intentionally i"nored they will eventually return with a ven"eance on those
arro"ant, fearful or even careless enou"h to dismiss them. 4niversal law
does not allow us to eretually swee ain under a ru". $t accumulates
until there is too much to !e contained. /hen, it returns li#e 0chic#ens
comin" home to roost.0
But first, !efore we en"a"e each other in any meanin"ful discussion of this
issue, we must sort out and clarify our definitions. Colorism, not racism, is
the correct term for descri!in" the re&udices that Afri#ans hold a!out each
other and seemin"ly use a"ainst or to the advanta"e of themselves and
others of relatively similar comle%ion.
$n this resect, re&udice, which is an attitude, a way of thin#in", must !e
distin"uished from discrimination, which necessarily involves action. An
attitude or thou"ht is without ower unless acted uon. Colorism, in the
cultural conte%t of "rou ower, is an attitude. /his article is couched in
terms of ower. /here is no meanin"ful discussion of the individual or
"rou without a central and causative focus on real indicators of ower for
the individual or "rou relative to other individuals and "rous. /his is not
a discussion of influence !ecause no matter how measured it is a function
of ower. 1ithout the erceived otential threat of enforcement throu"h an
e%ercise of retaliatory ower, influence is meanin"less and, in fact,
lau"ha!le. $n the +uroean cultural conte%t, influence without the
ercetion of a sufficient ower !ase is i"nored.
$n the white suremacist cultural conte%t of +uroean society, Afri#ans
have never !een in the osition to e%ercise ower a"ainst +uroeans !ased
on the color of their s#in. Colorism is reflected in intra"rou interaction. $t
occurs within a "rou. $t oerates at the level of family. Racism, on the
other hand, has nothin" to do with family. $t re"ulates the distri!ution of
resources !etween two or more "rous throu"h the actual or threatenin"
use of ower. $t occurs in the inter"rou arena and is un)uestiona!ly,
viewed throu"h the tellin" lens of history, the natural osture of +uroeans
toward Afri#ans and every other eole with color.
...racism 5is6 discrimination !y a "rou a"ainst another for the uroses of su!&u"ation or
maintainin" su!&u"ation. $n other words one cannot !e a racist unless he has the ower to
su!&u"ate. 1hat !lac#s are doin" is merely to resond to a situation in which they find
themselves the o!&ects of white racism.
Racism is a +uroean manufacture. /hey lanted and cultivated it
everywhere they went. $t is a tool of white suremacy that elevates the
+uroean and creates oression and anta"onistic infi"htin" amon" the
remainin" disemowered oulation. /heir first institutionali-ation of
racism occurred in $ndia !ut, of course, did not end there. $n that they are
"lo!al tresassers, it is a "lo!al henomenon. /hey were and remain its
carriers. Racism continues to !e relicated wherever they 0discover0 new,
untamed frontiers and 0uncivili-ed0 eoles. $t remains constant in those
laces where they have hysically dearted !ut remain a!sentee resource
controllers.
/hat racism, however defined, has finally come to !e conceded !y
+uroean intellectuals and their audience as a ermanent social fi%ture
should not !e news to us. /he ower it "ives the !eneficiaries of white
suremacy should never have !een thou"ht to !e relin)uished easily, if at
all. Racism is not lo"ical. $t is not susceti!le to moral reason. $t can not
and will not !e eacefully ne"otiated away.
Conse)uently, to #ee the thin veneer of racial harmony intact, racism(s
definition has !een modified to e%onerate its source. 7ew world order
everyone.should.love.each.other.and.for"ive.and.for"et.what.they.
systematically.and.sava"ely.did.to.our.ancestors.and.still.do.to.us.
!ecause.we(re.all.human roa"anda is desi"ned to ma#e us feel that they
are !ein" unfairly accused and victimi-ed. Racism and colorism have
!ecome urosefully entan"led to the oint where, 0!y ma#in" racism
everyone(s disease, you ma#e it incura!le...the universali-ation of !lame
imlies that eole of color must suffer discrimination without hoe of
escae.0
By this switch, this redefinition, it is made to seem as if we do it to
ourselves. 1e !ecome the source, the culrit, the lone, unrovo#ed
eretrator. 1e !ecome the initiators. 1e !ecome racism(s history.
+uroeans no lon"er lay any art !eyond !ein" mem!ers of a human
family where every!ody is naturally as racist as they have roven
themselves to !e.
1e must learn that olitical definitions are created !y eole to !enefit
themselves. /hey serve self.interested a"endas. 3rom an Afri#an centered
ersective, we must define racism, as a home"rown !yroduct of white
suremacy.
1e must ma#e the !est use of our most rofound and historically "rounded
warrior scholars in our definitions. As an e%amle of this need, accetin"
the !asic mainstream 1estern social science definitions of nuclear families
as havin" !oth a wife and hus!and with ossi!ly one or more children and
e%tended families as containin" no less than two adult coules with one or
more children and ossi!ly other relatives inevita!ly leads us to
masochistically define our own families as a!normal and dysfunctional.
+)ually dama"in", any su!mission to their newfan"led definition of
racism !estows innocence uon them e%cet for a few !ad ales, leavin"
those of us who aerceive white suremacy in the unenvia!le osition of
!ein" la!eled vindictive, siteful social misfits, 0una!le to &ust let it "o0
and &ust let it disaear throu"h silence.
Racism must !e defined !y Afri#ans in terms of our historical relationshi
to +uroeans( centuries old festival of 0death, destruction and domination.0
$t must !e defined as a function of ower. $t must !ecome reco"ni-ed for
what it is, a function of the ercetion of the ro!a!ility of a threat or
actual e%ercise of ower !y +uroeans a"ainst Afri#ans. /here must !e a
record of unrovo#ed, unnecessary, e%cessive #illin". /he racist must !e
#nown and feared for #illin" for nothin". 1ithout ower, racism cannot
e%ist. $t would !low away li#e the dust of a disinte"rated corse.
/he social ran#in" of eole !y s#in tone within the Afri#an community
re)uires serious, oen and on"oin" discussion as to its roots,
manifestations and tenacity !ecause it continuously feeds divisive olitical
relations, articularly alon" class and "ender lines. Colorism intensifies the
intra"rou anta"onisms already a""ravated !y infi"htin" over a limited
num!er of discarded olitical and economic crum!s. /he rover!ial divide
and con)uer strate"y endures !ecause it is nursed, not !ecause we have
nothin" in common.
8ere are some mental e%ercises that, with honest reflection, can hel !rin"
this common confusion over what different oints alon" the comle%ion
ran"e consciously and su!consciously imly closer to home.
$ma"ine on different !ut very similar !usy streets, two Afri#an women of
comara!le aearance (wei"ht, hei"ht, hair len"th and te%ture, attire,
mannerisms, nails, facial features, smile, etc.), e%cet one is dar#
comle%ioned and the other much li"hter, are stranded with car ro!lems.
1ho will, in all real ro!a!ility, receive the most, and most immediate,
assistance from Afri#an males2 3rom any males2
And as a related aside !rothers, why is it that every time most !rothers see
a crowd of sisters, our eyes are immediately drawn to the one with the
li"htest s#in2 Don(t deny !efore you thin#. /his is not an accusation. ,ome
mista#enly call this evidence of "ood social trainin".
1hen you "o to a arty no one !lindfolds you at the door, has you oint
your inde% fin"er strai"ht out, sins you around, and whoever you are
ointin" at when you sto turnin" is who you !um and "rind with. Do
you honestly and intelli"ently ta#e the time to find out what(s in her head
and heart !efore detailin" her form2 Don(t deny. Chec# yourself 9cause
nothin" is wron" with her. ,he had no say over the way she was !orn.
Don(t say 0not me0 until you ta#e the time to really thin# a!out it. 7ow
that you(ve "iven it some thou"ht, when we do this which !rain is
thin#in"2 /he "rey one, the color.ran#in" white suremacist one, or the
other one (or some com!ination thereof)2
1hy do the teacher(s ets of today have the same comle%ion and features
as they did :;, <; =;, >;, ?;; years a"o2 +ven after the 0,ay $t Loud $(m
Blac# and $(m Proud0 ?@=;s it is still a constant. 1hy do the sisters we
tend to consider the 0finest0 and 0hatest0 today have the same comle%ion
and features as they did :;, <; =;, >;, ?;; years a"o2 1hy do Afri#ans
still refer to live in redominantly +uroean communities2 And, why do
Afri#an Catholic con"re"ations still refer more than any other
denomination to have a +uroean reachin" from their ulits2
,omethin" this ervasive and internali-ed is a function of +uroean
cultural imeratives, of a ratin" system e%creted from the !owels of white
suremacy. And are those of us who are so enra"ed at +uroeans favorin"
those Afri#ans they found more aesthetically leasin" that you have
develoed the a!ility to 0!lac# out,0 to desise, to resent, those sisters any
!etter2 /he 4niverse chose their comle%ion, not +uroeans. 3urther, there
is no correlation !etween level of melanin and consciousness, only level of
melanin and access to the master(s crum!s in this culture. And rivile"e in
+uroean society is still the +uroean(s choice. Revolutionary !rothers and
sisters would rather insect and chec# the colorism oisonin" their minds
than !e "overned !y suerficial hysical endowments.
Can you icture a !lac# an"el, !lue !lac# from the sole of her sandals to
the crest of her halo2 Can you truly visuali-e that2 3or many of us, the
only ossi!le conclusion is that this is the An"el of Death. *et, assumin"
you !elieve heaven is a lace, we must have ancestors there somewhere
with the dar#est of s#in. +ither that or you have !ou"ht into the
descendants of 8am a!surdity. ,o why are Afri#an an"els so hard to
visuali-e2 A wise erson would have to #now that the An"el of Death has
roven himself to !e anythin" !ut Afri#an.
Coincidentally, why does the "eneral comle%ion !ecome dar#er and
dar#er when you travel from uer to middle to lower class Afri#an
communities2 1hy is it that most homeless men are dar# comle%ioned2
1hy do we !ecome affectively shoc#ed or distur!ed at the si"ht of a li"ht
comle%ioned homeless man2 1hy does the former seem more natural and
the latter utterly out of lace2 1hy is it that most homeless women are
also dar# comle%ioned2 But, most imortantly, are these o!servations
roof of the validity of eu"enics (scientific racism) theories tyin" "reater
intelli"ence and drive with less color2 'r is somethin" else at lay here2
Could anythin" cause Afri#ans to "o into de!t for cosmetic sur"eries that
!roaden their noses and lis, ti"hten their curls or dar#en their eyes2 $n all
ro!a!ility, no. Don(t !e that confused, small mind who hurts his or her
!rain tryin" to find that one, or two, +uroean female actresses who
suosedly call this vastly disroortionate truth into )uestion !y tryin" to
dred her hair or imlant lastic in her !ehind. Don(t follow the ath of
those mental mid"ets who claim racial e)uality has !een reached in caital
unishment !ecause the one or two +uroean males they searched so hard
for who were e%ecuted !y the state for #illin" Afri#ans somehow !alances
the thousands of Afri#an males accused of lesser crimes and murdered !y
the state and it(s mo!s. 1ould an entrereneur ma#e any money sellin"
roducts that would ma#e us more 0Afri#an0 loo#in" as comared to one
who offers a roduct that hysically chan"ed us into 7ordics or Celtics2 $f
color and features are of no imortance and reference is in no articular
direction, then why does the vast ma&ority of cosmetic sur"ery erformed
on Afri#ans ma#e them aear more +uroean2 1hy the deserate
emhasis on thinnessA thinner noses, thinner lis, thinner thi"hs, thinner
his, lesser curl, li"hter colored eyes2
/he roa"ated ideal woman is necessarily unnatural. ,he is as far from
the avera"e human female as +uroean culture can ossi!ly ma#e her. /he
farther she is from natural, the "reater the otential rofits for a !usiness
community that thrives on leadin" eole to want and !e what they do not
have and are not. /he "oal is to consistently ma#e the a!normal, unnatural,
unavera"e desira!le and turn that want into a need. /he "oal is to turn
eole outside of themselves, to remove all vesti"es of internal and
communal control or "uidance, and lu" them into an e%ternally controlled
mar#et. *ou could call it mar#et terrorism. $ndividuals are driven to
comly with commercial ressures to !e socially acceted while at the
same time they are #et disoriented as to the ro"ressive direction of
mar#et fa!ricated needs allowin" any new and imroved roduct to
!ecome their most imortant riority.
$f it really doesnBt matter, as the so.called authorities osin" as Blac# tal#
show hosts assure us, why "o only in a whitenin" direction2 $f 0!eauty0 is
a )uality found amon" all eole, and +uroeans reresent less than ?;C
of the world(s oulation and, therefore, less than ?;C of all natural
!eauty, why are the hysical disfi"urations eole of color see# almost
universally one.way, the way of the 0erfect0 +uroean model2
,#in whitenin" roducts still dis"race African American homes. $n ?@@;
D<< million was sent on s#in !leachin" roducts in this country. /he
amount increases yearly. 3rom here, its use has sread across the lanet
li#e a conta"ion. As a 0!eneficiary0 of +uroean cultural imerialism, it is
no surrise that our motherland(s ur!an oulation seems to welcome
these menticidal roducts with oen arms. ,ur"ical rocedures offerin" to
even more raidly and ermanently transform !lac# into white are
attractin" consumers left and ri"ht from Cae /own to /unis. Mar#eted
rimarily to women who have the trile disadvanta"e of !ein" Afri#an,
oor and female, these oerations leave their s#in melaninless. Doctors
have found that this literally #ills it. /hey are findin" that without the
melanin this new and imroved, i.e., white, s#in no lon"er heals naturally.
1ounds seem to ta#e forever to heal, if they ever do.
/hin# a!out it. If Michael Eac#son really had a s#in disease that left
slotches of li"htened s#in, why didn(t he simly ta#e the less costly and
more lo"ical route of simly dar#enin" those slotches to match the rest of
his s#in instead of li"htenin" the ma&ority of his un!lemished s#in to
match the a!normalities2 $f you even had the sli"htest idea of who you are
that would ma#e sense. 'ne has to )uestion the use of anti.!lemish
concoctions as 0only0 !lemish removers, unless the !lemish is the entire
!ody. ,ome refer to it as 0the !leachin" syndrome0 F an o!session with
turnin" oneself white. $s there even a reason to as# why, even after !ein"
u!licly e%osed, the leadin" Afri#an cosmetic roducer still su""ests
ma#eu !ases li"hter than the women they are used on2
'ne more thou"ht to invo#e more thou"ht. $f lan"ua"e is without ower
and color is irrelevant, why is there a distinct and intensely different
emotional resonse associated with !ein" called a !lac# ni""a versus a
lain ol( ni""a, a !lac# !itch versus an ordinary one2 1hy is one fi"htin"
words and the other a term of endearment2
By now, we should !e sic# and tired of eole ar"uin" that their color was
a "enetic accident, or that they &ust haen to !e Blac# or that it ma#es no
difference whether you are Blac# or white and, therefore, that race is a
nonissue, that we should for"et a!out it and "o on a!out the !usiness of
success. Peole say they don(t want to !e called Blac# or Afri#an usin" the
e%cuse that it is limitin". $t(s interestin" that to say you(re white is not.
1hen your validation comes from +uroeans rather than !ein" who and
what you naturally are, you can never measure u. DuhG *ou are not
+uroeanG $n a white suremacist culture you necessarily must deny
yourself in order to succeed.
But havin" a historically conscious Afri#an center allows one to
#nowin"ly resond to such insanity with, 0,ince when has !ein" Afri#an
revented anyone(s ascension20 1hy have we come to !elieve that
ursuin" the will of our ancestors consi"ns us to mental and material
overty2 $f success is an individual, andHor "rou, choice whenever,
wherever and under whatever conditions you find yourself, then there is an
a!solute truth in the instruction that
!efore a erson can achieve the #ind of life he desires, he must become that kind of
individual. 8e must thin#, act, tal#, wal#, and conduct himself in all of his affairs as would
the erson he wishes to !ecome .. in the sirit of a ri"ht mental attitude. 8e is then actually
that erson, and the thin"s that erson would have and do will naturally come to him.
($talics in ori"inal)
/here must !e a reason we are ur"ed to 0structure your world in such a
way that you are constantly reminded of who you are and what you want
to !e.0
Color is accidental to success as considered in the conte%t of this
discussion. But not in the way +uroean culture would have us thin#.
7one is !etter )ualified than Iwendolyn Broo#s to admonish us in this
resect that, 0!lac# eole who want a!ove all thin"s not to !e !lac# are
the most itia!le and comical eole in the world.0 Race men and women
have always "uided us in the Afri#an 1ay. 1ould it !e incorrect to
contend that 3annie Lou 8amer, Malcolm J (+l 8a&& Mali# el ,ha!a--),
Drusilla 8ouston, Iil ,cott.8eron, Kwame /ure, $da B. 1ells, Lueen
Mother Moore, Martin R. Delaney, Marcus Iarvey and +lla Ba#er were
not !oth Afri#an and successful2
/his does not mean that in this a"in" +uroean world order race is no
lon"er relevant. Biolo"ical differences in color continue to !e used as
white suremacy(s rimary &ustification for assertin" racial differences in
morality, intelli"ence, !eauty and asiration. Many of us are still la"ued
!y that menticidal insanity. A recent 7ational 'inion Research Center
survey e%emlifies this. $t disclosed that 0MN.: ercent 5of whites6 thou"ht
!lac#s were 0less intelli"ent0 than them. 1hat should have !een no
surrise to most of us a!out the thou"ht of natural white suremacist was
frustrated !y the statistic that 0N; ercent of the !lac#s surveyed a"reed.0
'!viously, some very serious confusion remains.
Contrary to oular !elief, we are not our own worst enemy. Althou"h, we
have often !ehaved as colorist as +uroeans have !een racist. 8owever,
we are tal#in" in the tense of what has !een, not what can !e. As the future
van"uard, we must !e"in the rocess of intelli"ently and interactively
dismantlin" this vehicle of cultural imerialism. $t cannot !e done without
scientific and historical understandin". 'ne of the reasons that 'ssie Davis
served as narrator of the movie 0J0 was !ecause he attemted to e%ose
the oositional nature of !lac# and white which formed a !asis for white
suremacy. 1hat Malcolm did with the dictionary in &ail he, too, did in a
scholarly and u!lished article. /hey !oth found that the vast ma&ority of
terms indicatin" !lac# or dar# connoted !ad or evil while those
synonymous with white or li"ht sym!oli-ed "ood or virtue.
Lan"ua"e a is very owerful tool. 1hen oral or written sym!ols are
reinforced throu"h entertainment, education and reli"ion, it !ecomes even
more otent. 1ords communicate meanin"s that are commonly understood
!y all articiants or they cannot stand as a method for conveyin" meanin"
or order. /he su!conscious, sym!olic reality which eole sea# into
e%istence facilitates the e%ercise of ower or reveals imotence. 1ords,
also, are made into allies or enemies. 'ur unso#en awareness of the
+uroean meanin"s !ehind the sym!ols we use demonstrates a willin"
consumtion of a racist reference "rou(s seductive culture. /he lan"ua"e
we ae reveals our not so !lind endorsement of another(s self.!enefittin"
cultural definitions a!out color, ours relative to their lac# of it.
/he roof of our accetance of others( definitions is too "reat to i"nore or
attri!ute to chance. But one remains a noteworthy classic. 8alf a century
a"o, Mamie and Kenneth Clar#Bs study clearly demonstrated our seemin"ly
natural love for +uroeans. /heir study has !een reeated several times
since with very similar results. And, re"ardless of minor methodolo"ical
flaws, there is somethin" to !e learned from them. /he )uestion it roves
that still needs to !e as#ed is, 01hy would Afri#an children all over the
world die to !e +uroean li#e Bar!ie and Ken20 as so well articulated in
novels li#e /oni MorrisonBs The Bluest Eye. 1hy is self.hate a rite of
assa"e into Afri#an adulthood2
Loo#ed at from another an"le, a num!er of +uroean students were as#ed
if they wo#e u to find they were Afri#an what amount of money would
they feel was &ust comensation. /he si-e of the amount, and even
ac#nowled"ment that rearations would !e aroriate, indicates that
+uroeans #now the severe social and cultural disadvanta"e of havin"
!lac# s#in in western society. /he level this awareness may !e
su!consciously em!edded is irrelevant. /heir oor little rich white man(s
feelin"s are not at sta#e here. Does the innocent Afri#an man &ust
sentenced to 0twenty to life0 really "ive a damn if the &ud"e is only
su!consciously racist2 +uroeans understand what they have done to the
minds of Afri#ans. $t should come as no surrise that
...most 5of the white students6 seemed to feel that it would not !e out of
lace to as# for DM; million, or D? million for each comin" !lac# year. And
this calculation conveys, as well as anythin", the value that white eole
lace on their own s#ins. $ndeed, to !e white is to ossess a "ift whose
value can !e areciated only after it has !een ta#en away. And why as# so
lar"e a sum2 ,urely this needs no detailin". /he money would !e used, as
!est it could, to !uy rotections from the discriminations and dan"ers
white eole #now they would face once they were erceived to !e !lac#.
1e would !e remiss if the )uestion of who does colorism !enefit was not
osed. As Afri#ans we need to assess &ust how our fi"htin" over scarce
crum!s translate into limited ower for us and !enefits others. Peace is not
rofita!le to e%loiters. And masses, or"ani-ed alon" whatever lines, are
always a "rave threat to any real, core e%loitin" class. /hey understand
our ower. 1e must !e made to waste it fi"htin" each other. 1e must !e
made to thin# that anythin" that creates tension within our ran#s is of our
manufacture. Remem!er when Afri#an men lashed out at Afri#an women
writers when Afri#an 0male.!ashin"0 novels !ecame "lorified in the
media2 1e did this without reali-in" that +uroean males wittin"ly
controlled this im!alanced resentation or considerin" the num!er of
female !ashin" novels Afri#an men wrote. 1e must !e #et isolated from
our ower.
Power comes from self.love. ,elf.love comes from historical awareness
and olitical or"ani-ation. Part of that awareness is derived from studyin"
the choices made in our ancestors( societies. Read a"es ?=N.?O< in +rriel
D. Ro!erson(s The Maafa & Beyond. And, then, "et !usy.
*es, we can "o !ac# in time and find in some a reference for li"hter s#in
women. But, then a"ain, we find in some very dar# women or !rown
women or small women or lar"e women or short women or tall women
most desired. But nowhere and at no time do we find the e%tensive,
intensive invidious, destructive intra"rou anta"onisms !ased on
differences in i"ment as are found wherever +uroeans have defiled this
lanet.
A )uite insi"htful e%amle is Bra-il. As the nation with the second lar"est
national oulation of Afri#ans on the lanet, Bra-il stands out most
!ecause of the covert 0whitenin"0 ro"rams its &udicial and law
enforcement systems imlemented to imrove their reutation amon"
+uroeans as a choice tourist attraction. /hey have successfully lowered
the melanin content of their visi!le oulation. Dar# s#inned children have
!ecome as undesira!le there as homeless Afri#an men in Chica"o, Atlanta,
D.C., L.A., and everywhere else in the u.s. Mass "raves of dar# s#inned
!oys, courtesy of the olice, are so common that they no lon"er have any
shoc# or ratin"s value in the Bra-ilian media. At the same time,
+uroeans( awareness of their -ero oulation "rowth rate and efforts to
delay their imendin" fall !y endearin" tomorrow(s ma&ority world
leadershi has rei"nited their uni)ue ractice of stealin" the li"htest
comle%ioned #ids and lacin" them with +uroean families throu"hout
+uroe and the u.s.
$s colorism new2 'f course not. $t(s almost as old as the word ne"ro. $n the
u.s. we voluntarily, systematically, overtly and unashamedly ass down
this same nonsense throu"h everythin" from children(s clu!s to fraternities
to sororities to schools to churches to olitical offices to !usinesses. $t is a
sad commentary on our self.hate and atholo"ical denial of it that we still
sea# of and refer 0"ood0 hair. 7o wonder an incredi!le num!er of us are
still driven to 0ass0 for +uroean and hide amon" them.
As of the year ?@M;, the defectors had soared to ?:,;;; er annum. By ?@>; the yearly tally
was ?O,;;;. $f that num!er held steady durin" the ?@>;s F conceiva!ly it was "reater F then
durin" that decade alone, some ?O;,;;; ersons a!andoned Blac# identity and the Blac#
American community. +ven a conservative estimate would lace those who slied away to
ass for white in the si%ty years from ?@N; to ?@@;, at some =N;,;;;.
Anythin" !ut to !e Afri#an.
Many Afri#ans in the u.s. also still want to see themselves as distinct from
Continental Afri#ans. /hey use comle%ion and feature differences, some
stooin" so low as to include odor, followin" the arro"ant lead of their
masters who had to learn to !athe from the Moors, as an e%cuse to further
sever themselves from any Afri#an !loodlines. $n the effort to define
themselves as nonAfri#an, i.e., movin" with all due haste to remove the
African from African American, they have done all in their ower to
conceal our rae. $nterestin"ly enou"h, this is !ehavior common to rae
survivors. $n a last ditch effort to identify with the master, centuries of rae
are intellectuali-ed and transformed into love.
Rae is an act of war. $n a nonse%ist, ri"hteous world, there should !e no
statute of limitations on rae. ,ince when do raists )ualify for the honor
of ancestorshi2 /o accet +uroean ancestors is to deny our Afri#an
ancestors.
At what oint would a succession of raes )ualify a +uroean to !e one of
your ancestors2 ,uccession here means somethin" done over and over and
over a"ain, with forethou"ht and malice. +nslaved Afri#an women had
little choice, short of murder.suicide, a!out e%chan"in" se% to feed their
children or secure mercy for their men. 1hy should the real suerfrea#s
who !iolo"ically and culturally defiled, desecrated and defaced us throu"h
enslavement, coloni-ation, neoslavery and neocoloni-ation deserve to !e
honored in this most sacred way2 +uroeans are not our ancestors. +ven
within the Afri#an community, elder or ancestor is a status that has to !e
earned. And now we want to reward the raist as ancestor.
4nderstandin" that, understand this. Rae can !e consensual. +urocentric
theorists su!mit that that which occurred !etween slaves and masters,
+uroean &ewish women and their 7a-i tormentors, those #idnaed and
their #idnaers are worthy e%amles of consensual rae. 8owever, that
whole discussion is irrelevant unless the +uroean(s definition of
consensual is considered within the conte%t of his overwhelmin"
a""ression as the enslaver.
Rae was a fact of life on the lantations. At any time and in any lace, female slaves were
su!&ect to the drun#en or a!usive se%ual advances of a master, an overseer, a nei"h!or, or a
master(s son. 3ew Blac# women reached the a"e of si%teen without havin" !een molested
!y a 1hite male.
...children had to watch their mothers !ein" raed. Consider the scars that this leaves on a
child. As imressiona!le as children are, for a child to watch or hear a arent !ein" raed
has to leave an emotional imrint in the memory that is dama"in" for a lifetime. 'ne also
must #now the trauma a woman suffers throu"h when she is raed...'ur African sisters had
to deal not &ust with the sin"le harmful e%erience of !ein" raed, !ut were reeatedly and
randomly raed !y ravenous enslavers...Additionally, hus!ands had to watch the reeated
se%ual a!use of their wives and fathers watched the reeated rae of their dau"hters. /his
had to !e an emasculatin" e%erience. /he asect of manhood defined !y one(s a!ility to
rotect his family was ta#en away.
Love is truly !lind. *ou can fall in love with a do", or shee as many a
+uroean has aarently done. 1hat /homas Eefferson reeatedly did to
,ally 8emin"s only has meanin" within the conte%t of a terrori-in"
oression. Did she have a choice2 1hat ro!a!ly would have haened
had she refused his 0lovin"0 advances. 1as the ro!a!le ima"e of her
raist as 0"od0 a choice on her art2 7o matter their historian(s latest lies,
/homas and ,ally were not e)ual tradin" artners.
0/he #ey to this understandin" is, of course, in the fact that the #inds of
)uestions as#ed redetermine the tye of answers ossi!le.0 +uroean
scholars and their minority clones who fa!ricate a humane enslaver and
overemhasi-e the relative imortance of enslaved men rain" enslaved
women and e%tend this relationshi into today are also helin" to a!solve
the master(s !ehavior !y hi"hli"htin" that of his catives. 1hile under any
circumstances rae is unconsciona!le, the se%ual e%loitation of owerless
female slaves !y owerless male slaves is )uantitatively different from that
erformed on Afri#an women !y unrelentin", se% cra-ed +uroean males.
/his is not a!out se%ism. ,e%ist atriarchy is as innate to western culture
as racism is. 1e must come to understand
...the dia!olical nature of those who are aware that what they !elieve is a lie and what they
do is wron", !ut use lies and sycholo"ical maniulation to dama"e the minds of other
eole. /he individuals who sread misinformation and cause sycholo"ical dama"e
intentionally, fully aware of what they are doin", are different from those who are
sycholo"ically dama"ed. /he a"ent of this sychosis is worse than those whose minds are
oisoned to !elieve racist ideas and act uon them.../his is a sic#ness of a different #ind.
/he roa"anda overemhasi-in" the role of the enslaved durin" the
Maafa hels normali-e and overshadow the desica!le deeds of the
lantocracy and lesser +uroean males. $t "ives the imression that
enslaved Afri#an men colla!orated with their 0friend,0 the economically
comelled !ut otherwise decent +uroean male, in the terrorism and
su!&u"ation of Afri#an women. $t is simly another instance of
universali-in" an e%treme +uroean !ehavior to induce the aearance of
innocence and rationali-e as uncontrolla!le the influence of caitalism
over an otherwise morally and ethically ustandin" eole.
Another idea, defensively wormed into the colorism de!ate, that the ran"e
in color found amon" Afri#ans is the result of slaves !ein" harvested from
all over the Afri#an continent, is also misleadin", distractin" and untrue.
Research clearly and une)uivocally roves that the Afri#ans enslaved and
raed !y +uroeans almost e%clusively came from the western re"ion of
middle Afri#a. 3urther, when discussin" comle%ion in "eneral, a survey
of the ran"e of color on the Continent shows that today, li#e four centuries
a"o, most Afri#ans who are of li"hter comle%ion are the result of the
infusion of +uroean and Ara!ian !lood and rimarily reside in the
southern and northern most re"ions. Most slaves were of dar# comle%ion.
+ven if this were not roven fact it would !e common sense "iven the
visual evidence. 8ave you seen ictures of li"ht comle%ioned Afri#ans in
chains in route to the Americas2 /his in)uiry also commonsensically
alies to deictions of slave auctions, the enslaved in the fields who
"reatly outnum!ered the 0house slaves0 as well as a si"nificant num!er of
the free Afri#ans who were merely ?.=C of the oulation as counted near
the end of slavery.
3inally in this discussion of family relations, those usin" the endearin"
e%cuse that most Afri#ans have at least one dro of +uroean !lood as an
indication of a natural "enetic !asis for racial harmony tend to see# a
!iolo"ical &ustification for their already "reater attachment to +uroeans
than Afri#ans. $f anythin", the reco"nition of rae(s ervasiveness and
viciousness should rovide the !asis for revolutionary thin#in".
3or"iveness is not the ro!lem. 3or"etfulness is.
All of this discussion oints us toward the Afri#an 1ay. /he artificial and
imosed s#in tone distinctions !rou"ht a!out throu"h the rae of Afri#an
women !y +uroean men reresent the model of divisiveness amon"
Afri#ans and comlimentary imitation of the +uroean racial hierarchy
that we see# to destroy and redefine alon" Afri#an lines of family. 1e can
not afford to allow our children to articiate in and ass on this
menticidal nonsense. $t must sto now, with us. 7ya!in"a.
Larry D. Crawford has !een an Assistant Professor of ,ociolo"y at
Morehouse Colle"e since ?@@?, and has !een reco"ni-ed for his dedication
to students and community ali#e. 8e serves as the advisor to numerous
student or"ani-ations at Morehouse Colle"e as well as other institutions in
the Atlanta 4niversity Center.
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