Monday, May 14, 2012

The legacy of colonialism and slavery creates self-hate and conflict among black people

By Hudson George

There is a big social problem among people of African descent in terms of who is black and who is mixed part black, and most of the time it all boils down to politics and prejudice, with a bit of colonial legacy. Therefore due to self-hate among some black people, darker skinned blacks are socialised to stay in the back, similar as in the colonial era of oppression and segregation.

Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers.
In the United States of America, the colonial system of segregation brainwashed the general population to believe that citizens who have a small percentage of African blood are black. Presently, that racial theory without any scientific proof has become the norm for both black and white Americans. They believe that one drop of black blood makes a person black, even though the labeling might not physically fit the appearance of the individual.

In Sudan, the Arab colonisers taught the Sudanese that those who have at least an Arab ancestor are Arabs and not Africans. In some Latin American and Caribbean countries there is a similar kind of political racism, where some citizens will say in public that they are black, but when it is time to declare their racial status in a national census, they will claim that they are mixed race instead of being black.

In the United States, citizens of African descent identify themselves as African Americans, whether they mixed race as Rosa Parks, Fredrick Douglas, Halle Berry, Alisha Keys and Mariah Carey; or if they look pure African as Lou Rawls, Danny Glover, Tupac Shakur and Gladys Knight. And even though the majority of African Americans are dark skinned, the lighter skinned ones are more appreciated and recognised when it comes to promoting black people’s talent and beauty on television in America.

In the last two decades, black Americans have been brainwashed to believe that Halle Berry is the most beautiful black woman in America, with the help popular media culture that controls the minds of a majority of viewers. With the power and influence of the media, the portrayal of Halle Berry as the most beautiful African American woman became a worldwide belief of what a beautiful black woman should look like, while the darker skinned African American women, who are much more beautiful than Halle Berry, never got media promotion and attention to show the rest of the world how beautiful they are as African American queens.

Now that Halle Berry is in her middle age, the American media selected another African American woman of mixed ancestry as the most beautiful among the rest. This time around, the beautiful African queen is pop singer Beyoncé, who is of mixed race -- African, Native American and French Creole. With all the cry about racial discrimination against black people in America, African Americans are still promoting their own version of internal racism and self-hate within their own race, whereby they refuse to see beauty in their own women who are pure African or almost pure African descent.

In Sudan there has been a war going on for very long time between North and South Sudan. The leadership in North Sudan is Muslim and they claim to have Arab ancestors, even though some of them are of a darker completion then famous black American Muslim leaders Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan. The Southern Sudanese, whose dark skinned complexion Animists and Christians claim to be the indigenous Africans and Sudan is their native country. They claim that they are being discriminated against by the northerners because they are black. Therefore, the fighting continues and people are dying.

In the Latin America and the Caribbean, people of African descent practice the same kind of self-hate. Most black people in the Dominican Republic do not want to identify themselves as being black, they claim they are mixed race, even though the Dominican Republic and Haiti are two neighbouring countries with a common border on the island once called Hispaniola or San Dominique. In the early days of European colonisation, the entire island used to be one country, before it was divided into French and Spanish colonies after various conflicts and wars.

In Brazil, black people have divided themselves racially by different shades of skin colour, while they continue to suffer from economic hardship, poor educational standard and violence in the large urban ghettoes. Yet still, during World Cup soccer, black people globally support Brazil as the greatest soccer team in the world, all because of the great Brazilian soccer star Pele, who is a black and still known today as the greatest soccer player of all time.

In the English-speaking Caribbean islands there are divisions among black people based on skin colour too, even though it is not as bad as in the Dominican Republic and Brazil. For example, in Jamaica, lighter skin colour means a lot in terms of social class and upward mobility. It is very common to see some black Jamaicans bleaching their skin to look lighter, with the hope that they will be accepted at a higher status within society, even though Jamaica is a predominantly black vibrant society.

It is obvious that if Malcolm X had been successful in creating a separate black country in America for African Americans to live as a people and nation, the black population would surely have the same skin colour prejudice problem. They would have segregated themselves into light skinned against darker skinned and mixed race against pure blacks. And most likely a similar conflict would have happened, as we see happening in the Sudan and other countries where the skin colour of black people varies in terms of different shades of skin tone.

However, it will be impossible for black people to unite and make progressive changes to help the next generation, if they continue to promote lighter skinned women as the most beautiful, while the beautiful darker skinned black women are marginalised. With such a kind of segregation and skin colour prejudice practice among some of our own black people and being portrayed in the media, how do we expect the other the races of human beings to respect us and take us seriously when we cry out about racism and discrimination?

What has happened to our great civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Junior’s dream, that one day we all will be free and equal as human beings regardless of our skin colour and race and gender?

May 14, 2012