Thursday, January 31, 2008


I grew up in a predominately Black community. I say predominately Black because there were pockets in my community where Latinos lived and a few Whites. We never had any real problems because once you peel back the language and the assumed differences in “culture”, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and other Spanish speaking groups were just as Black as the lot of us. The running joke in Black Circles was, “You ain’t nothing but a Nigga that speak Spanish”, which was usually said at the height of extreme emotion due to someone's posturing of assumed SUPERIORITY over the other in the Ghetto. And yet, when the chips were down and lines where crossed when Downtown began opposing their rule and or reign upon the Black and Brown people Uptown, SHADE OF SKIN became the unifying force behind the community’s survival. This is how and why Harlem has survived this long as a deeply rooted Ethnic Community. Even with the new ethnic groups moving in such as Africans, Caribbean, Eastern Europeans, Asians and Mexicans who are the new cheap labor force imported to do the dirty work for DOWNTOWN, it normally takes a big issue that is directed specifically at People of Color for all of Uptown to band together, champion Perestroika, and put aside their cultural differences. Although not as often as I would like but it does happen.

Since growing up with parents that taught that one should take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, I have made that my ticket to success and taken every opportunity to travel and attend schools outside of where I live. Private School, Boarding School, Magnet Schools and Charter Schools, I have had a mix of different types of educational systems up in me and yet my best educational experiences came from PUBLIC SCHOOL. There, you never knew what to expect and yet the differences prepared me more for the differences in people than all other schools, which emphasized more on how different and SPECIAL they were from those other people and their INFERIOR education. Don’t get me wrong, I am not KNOCKING non-Public Schools, I’m just saying that NOT ALL OF THEM ARE AS STACKED AS YOU’D THINK THEY ARE.

So where am I going with this? Well in my youth I occasionally would run into the MULTICULTURALIST. Those people who would introduce themselves by what BLOOD they had flowing through their veins. You know the type, “ Hi, my name is John Doe and my father is part German, Brazilian and half Choctaw Indian and my mother is Cajun with French and Dutch on her father’s side.” Then I would reply, “OK, you can call me Sha, I live in Harlem and can you please excuse me while I stand on THAT side of the room with the single stranded DNA people.”

I know you have come across half a dozen of them in your passing at one time or another. Some think that this is a perfect way of breaking the ice, for starting conversation about one’s rich and varied DNA trail. Quietness is kept, its NOT. Often I have to step back and determine how I need to acknowledge this in public. I can tell you this, when I encounter this, I need to determine if the person is telling me this because their MIXTURE is suppose to be their PEDIGREE; noting the pureness or impurity of it? Is it part of a person’s insecurity that they need to be classified so greatly that one needs to throw everything out there like a fisherman’s net in hopes that someone will snag on and reel them in? Is it a fear of having that 1% Black Blood, which makes you BLACK in America? Could it be the person, quite possibly, is the FLAVA of the week, that fashion statement of BEAUTY for the moment? Is saying to me, a big BLACK, DARK CHOCOLATE, EXTREMELY ETHNIC LOOKING MAN, that since you aren't multi-DNA’ed, I am the lowest of evolutionary tree. How should I respond socially after an introduction like that? Am I better, worst or should I put on my serving jacket and start passing out drinks, hors d’oeuvres and caviar because my singular bloodline makes me obsolete and problematic to the eye and the rest of the World?

Not being insensitive but I do understand the dilemma of bi-racial people. The psychological effects and the social stigmas of being “between the races” are well notes as tearing people apart. In my youth, looking at race, I never really understood the big deal with being bi-racial, it was pretty much common place in my neighborhood to see light and dark skinned people. As a child I will admit, I was cruel to a few dozen kids, (mainly because I JUST DIDN'T LIKE THEM) but I recall the name calling toward bi-racial kids. The harshest of the name-callings came from those Non-Public Schools I told you about. Those schools where WE were special and better than the Public educated low lives in Public School. Private Schools were masters at being divisive. I had a best friend who the girls just loved and the boys hated. He had that curly light brown sandy colored hair, green eyes, pretty white teeth, blah blah blah (yeah fellahs, back in the day Light Skin Brothas Were In) and he was my best friend. Yet all the while he and I were partners in crime, he was hampered with the nickname, “White-boy”. To add, it was best to call him this behind his back because to his face, some of the worst fights in school history occurred.. or at least the history of my time. What made our time together so contradictory was that my nickname was BLACK JESUS. As a child, it was the name of DEATH. Today to be called Black Jesus, you are expected to COME CORRECT yet White-Boy can either ostracized you, get you a date on I LOVE NEW YORK or become President of the United States of America.

The calling card for ethnicity might be important if a person sees it as a means to elevate themselves in a racially conscious America but when you address this to Black Americans, it can be an edgy thing that often will backfire in your face. Black folk are VERY sensitive about RACE. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. To not accept it is a serious SELF DENIAL that ranks up there as melanin not existing at all. For Whites that “Do Not See Color” that myth isn’t true either because People of Color and the WORLD sees the tan lines. The issue isn’t seeing or not seeing COLOR; it has more to do with acknowledging and respecting the differences in people, which also includes gender, and other physical attributes that come with RACE and Ethnic diversity.

There is this under lining drag on the fabric of American society and in parts of the world where to be non-Black means better. To be associated with anything Black, African, Caribbean, Black/Latino permeates the texture of an American Better-Than psychology. The average (White) American will say this is not so. The Average Latino in public will say this is not so but remember, I live in an area where Black and Brown people live side by side, so sharing of personal stories is common. The role of skin color plays largely within the Latin communities as well. Like the "Color Consciousness" of Black Americans, the same insidious human transparency exist from the South of the Boarder to the tip of Brazil where African and Native Americans were enslaved and intermingled with European dominance and servitude. But it just don’t stop there, the FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET scares the people in India as well. Just recently I watched a BBC Special where the people of India purchase millions of dollars in skin lighteners in order to PASS. Passing as a term coined by Black Americans for being LIGHT SKINNED enough to either PASS as WHITE or light enough to not UNSETTLE Whites in society. Here is one of those Skin Lightener commercials that run in India.

After the media induced, race and gender based South Carolina caucus, it was said that Bill Clinton insinuated that Barak Obama’s win was “insignificant” because Jesse Jackson had won in the same state as well. A fervor of racial/anti-racial charges ensued most of which was not true. Charges that Bill/Hillary were playing the RACE CARD and the Clintons were using facts to distort the significance of the Historical moment plus the media broadcasted that Bill Clinton was trying to make Barak Obama MORE BLACK in the eyes of the nation, it was too much for even America to take. A fact that I found hard to consider close to anything factual from the start. Why would Obama even care if America had considered him and MORE or LESS BLACK. Especially is his published book, The Audacity of Hope, he had addressed his thoughts on his own bi-racial makeup and the affection he shared for both his African (Kenyan) Father and American (White) Mother's background.

I immediately came to the defense of both Obama and the Clintons arguing that this whole matter was MUCH ABOUT NOTHING and that AMERICANS are not that stupid to fall for it. Then I was hit with another curve ball two days later, OBAMA GOES TO KANSAS. His intentions, to gather support for his run for President but most of all, to revisit is ROOTS. The roots of his mother. His White Roots.

Huuuuuuummmmmm? I said while scratching my head. COULD THIS REALLY BE POSSIBLE?. I’ll give him the benefit of a doubt, and yet THE MEDIA covered the wayward child of Kansasian Roots as this precious piece of Americana. If the hands of gentleness for the MOMMA OBAMA story was ROCKWELLIAN, it was as fresh as Tara with the Gone With The Wind theme playing in the background. By reports end I wanted to see Obama in silhouette standing high before corn layered fields with a soft wind and a setting SUN shouting to the WORLD, “And I shall never be BLACK no more!”

Now I know Obama does not feel this way BUT after what had occurred in South Carolina and the issues of RACE, you have to question the immediate Public Relations design Too Black/Black Like Jesse Jackson taint before leaving. And if there was any hint Obama had any Black Blood, it was clearly WHITE WASHED away in the story reported about his HOMECOMING TO KANSAS. As a Black person, that has his own perception, I saw this as the ultimate assimilation of a Native Black Son. Even the reporters had asked Obama, "As a youth do you think you would have been able to eat chilli at the soup counter?" Barak Obama never answered the question directly because he know the answer would have simply been "No", but who wants to be reminded of that. That would smug the perfect picture if you did. Like all things, the BLACK perspective isn’t important until it CAN (often doesn’t) effect America. Obama's visit to Kansas affects America because throughout all the trials that make up a Barak Obama, regardless of the abandonment of his African Father whom was never present in his life, its the notion that Obama’s REAL family starts with his Mother’s side (Oh did I mention his mother’s side is related to Vice President Dick Chaney?) and ends there. This is what was most important in Obama's re-imaging. There were no more Bi-racial indicators after his visit. How Obama’s grandfather felt like an outsider and left his backwards hometown to see the World and how he was open enough to allow his daughter to date a BLACK man is admirable, but it does not touch the hearts and imagination of Black people on a whole but it might jerk a tear from Whites, bi-racial persons and the MULTICULURALIST who struggle for acceptance and physical existence when confronted with difference. By the time Obama left Kansas, the Media had successfully made him more WHITE countering the "RACE" baiting accusations of Bill Clinton's comparing him and his campaign to BLACK JESSE JACKSON.

HEAR ME WHEN I SAY THIS, I do understand that a person is not 100% of any one thing or another, so it shouldn't be the header of your Personal Resume of Life, especial when you first meet a person. You aren’t advertising your Whiteness or your Boriquaism or your Blackness or a combination of the three, trust me, I can see it. All I want to know is your Name and eventually your Character. True you are a make up of your past experiences, your parent’s DNA, the Blood that flows in your veins but all of that is beneath your SKIN. Bad enough we fight over skin color, now I have to deal with blood concentrations as well?

Issues about Race are never about Blood or DNA, its about Rights and Respect. In America I would argue more about acknowledgement or Race than the ignorance of it. Look at it this way, you are a child living in a dysfunctional home (as if there exist a REAL FUNCTIONAL home these days) and for years you had been verbally abused, called names, embarrassed, made to feel like you didn't belong. Years later as an adult, you somehow survive yet your relationship with your own family is strained. Although you still respect your birth parents, your connection is strained at best. The disconnection now begins to effect your personal relationship with your children. The root cause, you have unresolved issues with your family which keeps you personally from moving on and growing. You find out that on your road to recovery, a dialogue and a moment of forgiveness is needed. The only problem is, YOUR FAMILY isn't hearing it. Denied Resolutions is the problem.

When I hear that a person is dropping his or her multi-racial multi-cultural DNA CARD I only hear UNRESOLVED DENIED RESOLUTIONS for who they believe there are. When I walk down the street and a DOG jumps out to bite me, I am not discerning if it is a Pure Breed or a Mutt, I'm Hauling ASS because a Bite is a Bite. Same as all people, the multiculturalist, the bi-racials, the pure-breed Aryans or the Lost Children of Israel on 125th Street in Harlem, New York. Don't give me your DNA Card just tell me your name. I'll decide later to call you crazy or not to care what "blood type" you are. 


One Man’s Opinion said...

Wow, I read and I read and then I saw the commericial and I stopped. What a very offensive commercial, to me. I was all set to tell you why I believed that people, normally white-ish people, tend to want to tell you all the strands of blood that flow through their DNA and then you stepped it up with that very offensive commerical. How would one even go about searching for such a thing.

"Hi Handsome", my ass.

dc_speaks said...

i read every word and I applaud this post.

I didnt watch the commercial like OMO...I shall do that.

your typed words dropped knowledge and you used outstanding references to bring your point home.

excellent post, Sha!!!(hope you don't mind me callin you that)

jjbrock said...

Hello Shazza, this is another great post. To be non-black means better I agree 100% with that statement. Even Mexicans coming into this country think that they are better than we are.