Dear Uninformed

Dear Uninformed

Recently, I made a post on my college course’s discussion board concerning Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter From Birmingham Jail, race relations, and natural law. I brought up how since the Civil Rights Movement, though we, as a country, have made progress, that progress seems to have slowed–to have plateaued since the 70’s. With every step the black community and other communities of color make, it’s like America attempts to take ten steps back. From racial profiling in Arizona due to their SB1070 law on immigration to police brutality in our neighborhoods; from color on color crime to glass ceilings people of color constantly face, it’s like the progress we’ve made, levels out with regression the country has made.

My classmate, whose name will remain undisclosed, happens to be a 40 year old Caucasian women with three kids. She responded to me in a way I found ignorant and borderline insulting.

Have a look below:

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Now, I, of course, do not want to perpetuate the “angry black women” stereotype, but for discussion’s sake, let’s just say I’m a bit miffed.

I may or may not have overreacted, which was why I didn’t send it to her. It is an online university classroom setting, and while she did not care to keep it sensible, I prefer to keep it professional. Let’s count this as a letter that was never sent. I’ll let you guys take a look though.

My response below:

I have read your response and taken a couple days to really figure out how I’d like to respond to you.

For you to take it upon yourself to assume or even ask me if I have had any “personal experience” that I can relate to racism in my life, is a little insulting. As a young African-American women, I have had countless experiences with prejudice, but none of them disappointed me more than your statement. This is an Ethics class and for you to insinuate that I am pulling the race card means that you really must not understand the purpose of this class. The purpose of this class is to discuss ethics, moral principles, virtues and to pull the race card when necessary. The discussion was under MLK, Race, and Natural Law, so in this regard, we also have the right to talk about oppressors, the oppressed, and oppression. We have the right to question the lack of ethics behind exploitation of countless races, the tragedy many of them have endured and how it has changed or remained the same today, and you’re saying that we should not pull the race card?

You say that you disagree that colorblindness is meant to increase white privilege. Well coming from an opposite perspective, from someone who does not have the fruitful benefits of white privilege, or the luxury of being “colorblind”, I am here to tell you that it does. You asked why there has to be an emphasis on color… The topic centered around MLK, race, and today’s society. That’s quite a loaded topic of discussion, and there was really no way for me to spare sensitive or stubborn feelings. The instructor asked me to give my opinion, and as I was allowed to do, I gave it while pulling the race card. 

You see, when you look at a person, you have the luxury of not seeing color. That, my dear white counterpart, is the privilege of being colorblind. But when I look at myself in the mirror, I am constantly reminded of the limitations that I had no choice in accepting. I am constantly reminded that the system is built for me to fail, and because of that, I choose to succeed. You see, I’m quite a stubborn girl.

The fact that you cannot see that progress for equality has greatly slowed since the 70’s is proof that you are in fact “colorblind”. “We have an African American President!”, yes but we also have 102 unarmed African Americans who were killed in 2015 alone, by the police force. This topic falls under the same category as Martin Luther King’s letter from the Birmingham Prison does, meaning that I had every right to pull in anecdotal evidence. With every step the black community and other communities of color seem to take, America seems to want to take about 10 steps back. This is why our progress with race relations has plateaued as a country. You simply have to pay attention.

Please do not speak for Martin Luther Kind Jr. (may he rest in peace) and call black people racist in the same breath. That would be an insult to everything he diligently worked for.

You think that it is racist for the black community to be gracious and creative enough to create black owned and populated programs? May I ask you why? Because the programs you may be speaking of are black owned, but are in no way black restrictive. There are plenty of white and non-black people of color who receive exposure on black owned programs. Please, never insinuate that African Americans have ever attempted to segregate. Something unfairly imposed, and is still being imposed, on us to this day. When I watched the Oscars some weeks ago, most of the people being represented were white males, and it’s been that way for quite sometime. When you watch most programs, who do you see? People of color barely have representation in the media as it is, unless it is negative, and when they create their own outlets for peaceful expression, you call that racism?

Let me tell you something. People of color, especially black people, can never be racist. I’m here to tell you, that “reverse racism” does not exist. Racism is a problem of institutionalization, where one group (in this case White Americans) has the power to take its prejudices and exercise them with impunity under the de facto color of law. I am troubled when I hear people assert that all White people are racist, because that is far from the truth. But I am even more disgusted when Black people are called racist because of their response to racism.

You see, all white people consciously and unconsciously benefit in minuscule and gargantuan ways from the prejudice in general society. Those benefits include, but are not at all limited to, not experiencing “driving while black”, “shopping while black”, “being educated while black”, “walking while black”, “angry on your front porch while black” kind of attention on a regular basis in their lives.

As Sobantu Mzwakali once said, “A man cannot hate the whip with which he is being flogged but then be expected to love the person doing the flogging. When such a black man, lying helpless bleeding on the ground expresses hate for the white person wielding the whip, it is only reasonable”.

The oppressed can never be racist, because racism was created by viscous oppressors who harnessed their institutionalized power and imposed prejudices and idealities on the people they considered to be beneath them.

African Americans and people of color do not have the standardized power, established over centuries, to enforce their bias on the majority culture.

Because of this, it is impossible for black people to be “racist”, and because of this, Black pain will never require validation from the white man to be considered real. Black people can be heavily prejudiced, but they can never be racist. That, my dear classmate, is one of the limitations I enjoy having.

I think we should focus on improving education, working towards a common goal, improving race relations, and calling out people like you who think it is okay to make statements such as the ones you did. The next time you, as a white person, would like to accuse the Black community of “reverse racism” and unjustifiable anger, I highly suggest you remind yourself what class you are taking, and that you check yourself, and your privilege.

Now, I thank you for listening to my viewpoints.

~

Too much? Yeah, I think so too, but sometimes people like that need a rude awakening. As I stated before, I did not post this on the discussion board, as I like to keep school strictly professional. I am, though, debating on emailing this to her. I truly believe she did not realize the significance of what she was saying; you cannot mention the amazing work Martin Luther King did for the black community, and in the same breath call the black community racist for creating methods of expressing themselves. Blacks cannot be racist, and I, for one, am happy to have that limitation.

Leave your comments and how you would have responded to her below! School me too, because everyone has something to learn.

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The Beauty of Melanin

The Beauty of Melanin

mel·a·nin

ˈmelənən/
noun
  1. a dark brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, skin, and iris of the eye in people and animals. It is responsible for tanning of skin exposed to sunlight.

“I have brown skin, brown hair, brown eyes. This is because of Melanin”.

“If it ranges between brown and black; it has Melanin”.

“Usually people with Melanin have better eye sight, natural muscle physique, and better, youthful and beautifully elastic skin”.

 

Melanin. From the definition and provided anecdotes, it seems as if the concept of melanin is pure essence, pure beauty – it seems as if melanin is a positive attribute. But anyone who didn’t naturally understand the beauty of melanin and its divine purpose, would be fooled by the way sociocultural standards of beauty paint it today. Anyone who has been affected by calumnious societies who appreciate aspects of white ideology and white privilege would never have known that melanin is the true source of all things beautiful. Melanin is the reason there is color, it is the basis of every hue and the essence of all things beautiful and young.

Maybe it was once understood. Maybe it was appreciated in a world long before white ideology stripped blackness of its royalty. Maybe just maybe, melanin was desirable.

 

Modern Humans Derived From Africa

Many believe that melanin is an adaptation, but they are so far from the truth, not even Christopher Columbus could venture their waters. Let this be known: the lack of melanin is an adaptation, not the other way around.

We are solely children of Africa—with no Neandertals or island-dwelling “hobbits” in our family tree, according to a new study. Scientists who compared the skulls and DNA of human remains from around the world say their results point to modern humans (Homo sapiens) having a single origin in Africa.”

New data supports the theory that the single origin for anatomically modern humans is from Africa. Early humans colonized the planet after spreading across the world about 50,000 years ago.  National Geographic places the original roots of modern humanity in south-central Africa. The archaic remains found farther away from Africa, represent the adaptation to climate, land, and lifestyle. In short: white skin is an adaptation of the european environment. 

 

Benefits of Melanin

Melanin Is Essential to Brain, Nerve, and Organ Function.

In humans, melanin is the determining factor of hair and skin color. Inconsequently, few people realize that melanin is found in almost every organ of the body and is necessary for the brain and nerves to operate properly.

Translation: melanin is a necessity for survival.

Melanin Protects Black Skin

Melanin targets the biggest cause of widespread damage to human cells: free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for any type of skin damage, from discoloration, wrinkles, sagging, and more importantly, to skin cancer. Melanin is the reason why African-Americans are at the all time lowest risk for developing skin cancer. Our skin was made to absorb the properties of the sun, not reflect them.

Exposure to the sun primarily causes premature aging, as well as skin cancer and one’s ability to withstand the damaging affects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation depends on the levels of melanin in your skin. Melanin, a natural absorber of light, dissipates more than 99.9% of UV radiation. Even the lightest skinned black people have more protection from the sun than the darkest Caucasians. Though there is a limit to the amount of protection melanin provides (yes, you still have to wear sunscreen, this protection is significantly higher in naturally dark skin. As a result of this, darkly pigmented people tend to exhibit less signs of aging. Increased melanin protects its owners from short-term damage from the sun, as well as long-term signs of aging (i.e. age spots, deep wrinkles and rough texture, sagging, and discoloration).

Translation: black don't crack.

Melanin Aids in Human Reproduction

Dark pigmentation protects precious DNA from damage and absorbs the necessary amount of UV radiation needed to keep the body healthy. Melanin also protects against folate depletion, which women need to maintain healthy eggs, proper transferring of eggs, and the normal development of the baby after fertilization. Dark-skinned women suffer the lowest level of baby defects.

Translation: we good.

Melanin vs Melatonin

Melanin and Melatonin are two chemically related substances, but harbor many different characteristics. Again, Melanin is the major human pigment found in black skin, eyes, and hair. Melatonin is responsible for maintaining sleep cycles, biological rhythms and the regulation of melanin synthesis.

Translation: beauty sleep aids in the glowing of beautiful black skin.

 

The Power of Melanin

Melanin is black because its chemical structure allows no energy to escape, making black melanin the sole absorber of energy and light.

Translation: our darkness harbors the brightest light.

According to many authors, skin melanin is a result of UV rays, which despite popular belief, do not have to come from overused tanning beds. Melanin possess the unique ability to absorb energy and convert said energy into a re-usable source.

Melanin can rearrange its chemical structure to absorb all energy across the radiant spectrum. This includes sun-rays, light-rays, music vibrations, sound waves, and sun heat. This could be another major reason why Africans connect on such a deep level with music, and why most of our music was manifested. As a race that is used to being in the sun, whether on our rightful continent, or wrongfully enslaved on another’s, music is a natural response to happiness, adversity, and any other feeling black people may possess.

We could not physically exist without our melanin; our organs, our motor functions, our senses, and our minds could not work without the presence of it. The five physical senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) are our sensory reactions to the outside world in response to melanin.

Melanin exists on a dark plane of matter, a cosmic biological gateway in which the life form of the spiritual mind can manifest and exist in the material realm.

Melanin, is our power – our essence – while the sun is our source.

We are solar beings.

“We Afrikans, with our distinct racial features -blackness, curly hair, broad nose, thick lips, etc.- are really blessed with greatest gift from nature. The source of all this beauty is this precious life and chemical substance; Melanin.”

The prominent presence of Melanin in African-American people is a testament to the fact that we are the prime examples of elegance and beauty.

We are the ideology.

Despite centuries upon centuries of slavery, objectification, hatred, and prejudice, no one can tell us that black is not beautiful – Black is beauty.

“Dipped in chocolate, bronzed in elegance, enameled with grace, toasted with beauty. My lord, she’s a black woman.”

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The Destruction of Colorism

The Destruction of Colorism

col·or·ism

  1. prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.
    “colorism within the black community has been a serious emotional and psychological battle”

Colorism can best be defined as the internalized racism unknowingly fueled by white supremacy within the black community, and other communities of color.

We are bound – sharing ancestral torments of slavery, separated kin, sexual and psychological assault – we are bound. Tantamount to this, we are damaged. Yet we still walk, and just as anyone who is wounded that endures, we continue to injure ourselves more and more with every passing day.

 

Colorism’s Origins

The simplest way trace colorism’s roots, is to date its significance back to American Slavery. Slave owners typically displayed partisan treatment to slaves with lighter complexions. While dark-skinned blacks struggled in the fields, their light-skinned counterparts typically worked the less grueling tasks inside the house. Slave-owners were often partial to light-skinned slaves because more often than not, they were related. Slave-owners frequently engaged in sexual intercourse with slave women, and light offspring were the signs of their coalition. Although mixed slaves were still forced to endure the horrors of the eugenics movement, abuse, and rape just as their darker-skinned brothers and sisters, they were often allowed some form of an education and were occasionally granted freedom. Light skin became an asset among the black community and centuries of this conduct deeply instilled the belief that light was more desirable than dark.

While most are unsure of exactly why there is such a vast division between black people, the stumbling upon concept of colorism was no accident. The psychological war between African-Americans was the malevolent creation of William Lynch in 1712. Slaves only had the family they were left with and the families they shaped, but their union was strong – almost resilient enough to never be shattered. Lynch spoke of ways to break apart the unified Black man and woman, because their strength lied in each other. Lynch concocted a strategy that he believed would control the slaves physically and mentally for centuries if implemented properly.  The following is what many believe to have been William Lynch’s theory:

“Crossbreeding Niggers mean taking so many drops of good white blood and putting them into as many nigger women as possible, varying the drops by the various tone that you want, and then letting them breed with each other until another circle of color appears as you desire. What this means is this; Put the niggers and the horse in breeding pot, mix some asses and some good white blood and what do you get? You got multiple of colors of ass backward, unusual niggers, running, tied to backward ass long-headed mules, the one productive of itself, the other sterile, (The one Constant, the other dying, we keep the nigger constant for we may replace the mules for another tool) both mule and nigger tied to each other, neither knowing where the other came from and neither productive for itself, nor without each other.”

Most propose that his efforts did not cease there. It is theorized that Lynch suggested destroying the mother language of the black people and limiting their understanding of the English language to render them voiceless. He figured that by making African-Americans imprudent, minuscule differences, like the shade of their skin, would break the black people’s unparalleled alliance. Consequently the conception of light versus dark skin was achieved. Lynch was suspected to have fed off of the fear of the black people by forcing women and children to watch as he tortured the strongest black male on the plantation until near death. The goal was to break the black man’s emotional tenacity. This new mentality was passed down from the mother to her child, and the strong image of the black male was broken. Male children would be made strong physically, but weak mentally. A slave to the white man, even if he was free.

These same inequalities now manifest in our work places, our criminal justice systems, socioeconomic statuses, and in our education systems. It is disproportionately black individuals who are dehumanized by the police, instead of protected, and this psychological terror impacts the entire race. We live in a world that perceives dark as evil, foreign, threatening, and exotified. One could now assume that William Lynch was successful because we unintentionally sanctioned white ideology to separate us. Because of this, no matter how strong we think we are, a part of us is still weak. A part of us is still enslaved.

 

Post Enslavement

Post slavery and throughout the Jim Crow era, the effects of colorism and the actions that went along with it, did not disappear. In black America the favored attitude toward lighter-skinned blacks continued, affecting their darker equivalents. Light skin and privilege were still considered synonymous and fair skin became the sole criteria for acceptance in the black aristocracy.

The Blue Vein Society refers to a historical phenomenon among some African-American communities in which the lighter skinned individuals held more privilege, as to darker skinned blacks, who held lower ranks on the social scale. The term “blue vein” was prominent in the early twentieth century, and was utilized because the test of how light one was, was determined by whether or not their blue veins were prominent beneath their skin. Another benchmark was the “paper bag test”. Many churches, fraternities, sororities, and even clubs, utilized a brown paper bag as an example for the darkest a person could be to be allowed entrance. People at these organizations would hold a paper bag against a person’s skin, and if one were darker than the bag, they would not be allowed entry. The term “fair-skin” was derived from the original meaning of “fair” – which was “beautiful”. “Fair-skinned” is instantly a colorist term because now fair skin means not only light skin, but it also holds the same connotation as, “beautiful skin”. This forms a devastating analogy: fair is to light as ugly is to dark. This is part of the reason why the idea of the brown paper bag test still haunts the black community. Images of lighter skinned blacks dominate the representation of black people, global sales for skin-lightening cream have remained steady for years, and analogously, photoshopped skin lightening techniques are commonplace.

 

Our Choice Affects Us Now More Than Ever

Colorism within the black community is proof that white supremacy, racists, and William Lynch’s techniques are operating exactly how they were intended to. Our experiences as African-Americans are different across our shades and genders, even if we share some of the same oppression. The disunion amongst us makes our fight against the eradication of racism less effective thus creating a double binding paradox for the entire African-American race. That, in itself, was William Lynch’s ultimate plan all along.

It is now, and has always been, our responsibility to educate ourselves and inform the black youth about our antiquity. Teachings should be reminiscent of the fact that although skin color was utilized as a weapon of mind control, light does not equate to beautiful any more than dark does. Internal bias will deteriorate momentously as the concept of unbiased beauty is understood. The perceptual shackles still imprisoning us from centuries ago will be broken and the discriminations that have manifested because of our ignorance will be less prominent. The black community can progress as a race, allowing us to be just as strong as we were before enslavement—if not stronger.

The history of African-American colorism is interminable, and the ruthlessness of internalized racialism boils down to comprehending why humans began to associate light with virtuous, and dark with corrupt. For those of us who acknowledge colorism and the destruction it has since left in its path, my principal question to you is: Are you going to do something about it?

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The Risk of Corrupting Our Perceptivity

The Risk of Corrupting Our Perceptivity


The industry bombards women: “The reshaped bodies, the smoothed out wrinkles, all there is to alter is your mind, to alter your perception of what physical beauty is” (Not Just a Pretty Face, Malkan). Society feeds women with idealities of false perfection and forces concepts of unattainable attraction on the population as a whole. In the midst of the media’s selfish desires, standardization becomes the enemy of diversity and the media becomes the enemy of pulchritude.

Exposing the population to insular perspectives of beauty can have particularly destructive effects on adolescent females. According to the Park Nicollet Melrose Center, about 53% of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies and that number surges to 78% by the age of 17. The National Eating Disorders Association confirmed that 70% of girls as young as 6-years-old want to be thinner. According to An Introduction to Applied Cognitive Psychology, availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that relies on proximate examples that come to a person’s mind when appraising a specific topic. It operates on the fact that if something can be recollected then it must be important—or the only option. The average child matures over 18 to 20 years, and while they are developing, the concept of availability heuristic is a key element in the way they perceive information. Younger generations are growing up in societies that crave power over every aspect of human life—even something as personal as one’s perception of pulchritude. Because young girls are being exposed to a society that dehumanizes women, self-objectification is becoming a wide spread epidemic.

Somewhere along the lines, someone needs to argue the importance of autonomous philosophies. Somewhere between beauty pageants and university lecture halls, people should be expected to think for themselves and embark on paths to self-realization no matter the obstacle. The population is used to comparing themselves to airbrushed images in magazines that confirm their worst fears. People would rather contend to the idea that “Beauty ensnares hearts, captures minds, and stirs up emotional wildfires”, but when Aristotle said that, he did not realize that descriptions of flawless beauty have since catered to a limitless desire of the ideal human form. Anyone can argue that ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, but defined this way, beauty is meaningless and shallow at best. In The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf disregarded centuries of objectification when she claimed that beauty is dispassionate and universal entity does not exist. Intellectuals argue that beauty is inconsequential and because it cannot be learned from, it should be disregarded. So of course now people are expected to breathe a sigh of relief, because after all, the concept of beauty is a tasteless joke. They can’t though, because there is still something dissonantly incorrect with the picture; outside the realm of ideas, beauty still predominates. Appearance is still the most public part of the self: it exists as a sacrament, what the world assumes to be the mirror of one’s inner self. The consequences of beauty cannot simply be erased by denial, because beauty, no matter the latter, will continue to operate in the lawless world of human attraction. Academics can ban the idea of physical beauty from intelligent dissertation, and similarly, others can claim that it is slight and superficial, but either way, the beauty myth will continue to force us to accept reality. With the ongoing pursuit of an unflawed civilization, the media is forcing many females, adult and adolescent, into believing that beauty is simply what they say it is.

Nowadays, women are being targeted by calumnious societies who storm them with contravening theories of allure for them to ingest and pour into the generations that have not yet had a chance to define attraction for themselves. Nevertheless, the media continues to endorse their besmirched principles, leaving the society to buy into their grossly imperfect depiction. Forty years ago, when feminists threw their bras into the “Freedom Trash Can” outside the 1968 Miss America pageant, it was to protest the idea that women had become ‘enslaved by ludicrous beauty standards,’ and they were right; the quest for beauty may be a century old obsession, but in the present day, it’s not women who are ugly, it’s reality. Sociocultural standards of beauty have more of an influence than ever, and not just in how people see themselves, but if they see themselves at all.

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Baker, Kevin, Corriene Reed, David Heathcote, Moira Maguire, and Richard Kemp. An Introduction of Applied Cognitive Psychology. Psychology, 2005. Print.
Gallivan, Heather R. “Teens, Social Media And Body Image.” Macmh.org. Park Nicollet Melrose Center. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Malkan, Stacy. Not Just a Pretty Face. 1st ed. New Society, 2007. 192. Print.
Sedar, Kasey L. “Female Body Image and the Mass Media: Perspectives on How Women Internalize the Ideal Beauty Standard.” WestminsterCollege.edu. n.p. n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.
Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women. Harper Perennial; Reprint Edition, 2002. 368. Print.