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Hip-Hop Artist Akala on -

Being A Man 2014 | Being a Black Man

A panel including hip-hop artist Akala, CEO of Working With Men Shane Ryan, writer and broadcaster Ekow Eshun and filmmaker, theatre director and writer Topher Campbell look at the contradictory and complex ideas around Black masculinity and what tensions arise from stereotypes, colonial histories and economic power.

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Within the black community especially, this is unfortunately a reality WoC face. The more eurocentric beauty features you have (fair skin, long hair, tiny nose etc.) the “more desirable” you are to society. It all stems from racism,white superiority, and the extent in which both are embedded in our own *preferences* as well as societal acceptance today. Which is why we should all find offense in the notion that something as simple as the color of your skin dictate your worth. 

Fuck that. 

If you’re a person of color and you objectify women of color on the “blackness” of their skintone (Yes,objectification lies within racism as well) with their correlation to their beauty or worth, with your ideal “preference” being a partner with eurocentric features, do not turn around and cry of racism done against you, when you yourself have committed the same acts of bigotry against your people. Especially when they are the adopted hate filled ideology of our people created by the very ones that you claim to fight against. 

Do not cry of the injustices done against you when you have taken on the face of the tyrant. Criticizes your preferences, because I can assure you they are not truly your own, but a learned affection of what us people of color have never been able to have, the white mans world. We have never fit in there, and in order to come to true radical change within and outside our society, we must question our integrity as people of color and our submissiveness to the white mans world.  

So THIS is happening. 

I am happy that the world is getting to know the YPJ peshmarga (those who face death) women. When I had a conversation with my dad about it, his feelings were that, basically we should be happy we are getting noticed at all because no one knows who the Kurds are and any publicity is good publicity; and that we are desperate for the world to know about us and about Kobane. So who cares if some rich women in Europe are wearing the YPJ attire. People are dying, don’t you know? we are facing a genocide!

But the feminist in me is still deeply angry. THIS is cultural appropriation in the WORST way. The YPJ girls do not want to be wearing war apparel! They are wearing these clothes because they are in a state of war and facing abuse, rape, sexual slavery, trafficking, genocide and be-headings! 

The YPJ women should be known BECAUSE of their immense courage! their bravery! their great sacrifice! their fierceness and their resolve to stand for their right as women as well as to defend their people, their community and all others who face the wrath of ISIL! 

But this is the nature of deeply oppressed people. We are happy when our culture is appropriated, when our daughters and sisters and mothers are dying and the world is using the clothes that they fight and die and get beheaded in to save THEM, as fashion.

Being Latino is not a cultural identity but rather a political one. Being Puerto Rican is not a racial identity, but rather a cultural and national one. Being Black is my racial identity. Why do I have to consistently explain this to those who are so-called conscious? Is it because they have a problem with their identity? Why is it so bad to assert who I am, for me to big-up my Africanness?

My Blackness is one of the greatest powers I have. We live in a society that devalues Blackness all the time. I will not be devalued as a human being, as a child of the Supreme Creator.

Although many of us in activist circles are enlightened, many of us have baggage that we must deal with. So many times I am asked why many Boricuas refuse to affirm their Blackness. I attribute this denial to the ever-rampant anti-Black sentiment in America and throughout the world, but I will not use this as an excuse. Often Puerto Ricans who assert our Blackness are not only outcast by Latinos who identify more with their Spanish Conqueror than their African ancestors, but we are also shunned by Black Americans who do not see us as Black.

Nelly Fuller, a great Black sociologist, stated: “Until one understands the system of White supremacy, anything and everything else will confuse you.” Divide and conquer still applies.

—  "Who Is Black?" - Rosa Clemente
When I was like 5 years old I used to pray to have light skin because I would always hear how pretty that little light skin girl was, or I would hear I was pretty ‘to be dark skinned.’ It wasn’t until I was 13 that I really learned to appreciate my skin color and know that I was beautiful.
—  Actress KeKe Palmer, on a panel of women of color, describing her experience with colorism and internalized racism as a child.

To every ignorant poc out there that says “well im ___ and im not offended by this, there are bigger issues to fight” 

Stop using your identity to silence others. Just because you dont find it impotant doesnt mean it isnt important to someone else. Dont take that away from them

"Not dating black men is just a preference; I just don't find them attractive!"

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Riiiiiggggghhhhhhhttttttttt because all these black men look exactly the same and are ugly as shit.

NO.

You’re just racist and anti-black as fuck. Black men can be as bright as the sun or as dark as night, but can still be just as equally attractive. Black men have locs, short haircuts, afros, cornrows, and bald heads. Some are short, and some are tall. Some have brown eyes, green eyes, hazel eyes, and literally any other color. I’m sick and tired of people saying their lack of attraction to black men is just a “preference.” That’s the most ignorant shit I have ever heard. Do you have to be attracted to every black man on this planet? Of course not! Hell, I’m a young black woman and I’m not even attracted to every black man. But for you to see every black man and categorize him as unattractive makes you racist/anti-black. Ask yourself why your “preference” to not date black men exists. Could it be because of the many negative and ignorant stereotypes tat America has forced you to believe? Could it be because of your own internalized racism (if you are a black woman or man who “prefers” not to date black men)?

I’ve heard some ignorant shit like "Well I don’t date black men because I don’t want my baby to come out with dark skin/kinky hair/(insert assumed black feature here)"

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 Yall who say shit like that need to get the hell on. I’m done.

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- Cici

Black men and (and some women) actually make careers of bashing black women. You cannot make a career of bashing black men or men in general in this culture. It is acceptable to call black women ugly, or mannish, to blame black women for single motherhood, to blame them for earning degrees as though it comes at the expense of men, it is acceptable to call us “hoes”, etc. Look at most mainstream rappers, comedians, relationship “experts”, etc - they all make a career of casting black women as deficient or worthy of ridicule. Some of them do it in a manner as if they are giving black women advice. The black community (and obviously The West in general) is highly patriarchal. Do not let anyone tell you that black men are being attacked by black feminists or black women in general because it simply is not true.

I am tired of how black women have become the targets of memes and viral videos. The collective character assassination of black women in the name of laughs, and giggles has gone on long enough.

[The Kenneth and Mammie Clark doll experiment] involved a child being presented with two dolls. Both of these dolls were completely identical except for the skin and hair color. One doll was white with yellow hair, while the other was brown with black hair.The child was then asked questions inquiring as to which one is the doll they would play with, which one is the nice doll, which one looks bad, which one has the nicer color, etc. The experiment showed a clear preference for the white doll among all children in the study. (x)


This study from the late 30s and 40s shows the biting effects of white supremacy on perceptions of blackness even amongst young black children. But you know what’s most tragic about the experiment? It was replicated in recent years and the results were exactly the same. I grew up wishing I had wavier “less nappy” hair. I grew up wishing I had light colored eyes or could squeeze light colored contacts onto my irises. I grew up wishing that I was 40 or 50% white instead of being “just 25%.” I understand how this self loathing feels and everytime I see this picture it brings me close to tears. Because I know that if this experiment had been conducted on me as a black child growing up in America, I would have also chosen the white doll without missing a beat. 

And people just don’t seem to get how deeply infused white supremacy is into our media and cultural fabric. You never explicitly have to tell a black child “well white people are better than you and you should hate yourself for being black” in order for you to know that is the operating logic of our racist society at large. As black people, in addition to everything else we have to deal with from police brutality, redlining and the school-to-prison pipeline to the disproportionate violence against trans black women, we also have to struggle with this internalized racism and self hatred on top of everything.

We are so taught to hate ourselves in this country that quite a few black people bleach our skins. We are so taught to hate ourselves that black men in droves talk about how they would “never date a black woman,” particularly a dark skinned one, and flaunt their white and non-black significant others about while openly degrade black women. We are so taught to hate ourselves that to this day at 24 I still struggle to overcome the enormous self hatred that I’ve been taught from day one growing up in this racist, white supremacist and virulently antiblack country. So much time has passed since this experiment and yet so little has changed in our nation where white supremacy and antiblackness continue to reign supreme. And this picture reminds me of this fact every single time. 

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 Fair or Not?: The Snow White Complex

Directed by: M. Hasna M.

"Fair or Not?: The Snow White Complex" is a documentary about Eurocentric standards of female beauty that are held across most (post-Colonial) cultures.

This is the first film I ever attempted to make back when I was an undergrad at UC Berkeley (2003-07). Unfortunately I was never able to complete this project, but it is an issue I hold very close to my heart, so I figured I should just post it online anyway so that people can watch & discuss…

Some of the topics covered: Skin color preferences in relation to class/culture, the media’s role in exacerbating internalized racism, skin bleaching products, exoticism of dark-skinned women, and the phenomenon of tanning amongst White women.