“Wow that doesn’t taste healthy”
“You sure are pretty for a dark skin girl”
“Why do you have jolly ranchers in your hair that is soooo ghetto!”
Okay that last one doesn’t quite fit but I just really wanted to post that pic…shabang!
One of these things is not like the other…but it does get me to thinking about our perceptions and how those perceptions translate into reality and what exactly all that means.
For example I work with youth and when I come across young black women with blue braids there’s a light bulb that goes off in my head and she is immediately pegged henceforth into to a category in my head I will call “hoodrattish”. Now the child may not indeed BE a hood rat she may just be displaying some temporary hoodrattish tendencies do to the influence of her surroundings. And im not pretending the term hoodrat is any way cohesive or indicative of that youths potential into becoming a valuable member of society or that it is not a semi-offensive term, but for lack of a better word I use it to define youth who display such tendencies of fluorescent hair etc.
So when do we start equating what a people do with who they are? Or rather when does an individual entity begin to have a substantial impact on the sum of its parts or the whole? For example who decided that healthy food had to taste like bird food? And why is soul food/good food equated with fat backs and high sodium. Who said dark skin was diametrically opposed to beauty, can you tell me who came up with that non sequitur?
I mean I guess we can trace all of this back to “the man” but I think to a certain extent it is simple human nature tinged with a little bit of bigotry. To a certain extent we all judge. We make assumptions about people based on their actions compared to the body of our past experiences. But when those judgments affect the way that we treat people or people treat us I think we have to start premeditating our actions and preparing our children to do the same. Particularly as black women I think it is important for us and our lineage to challenge the status quo.
But here is where it gets tricky. Do we modify our behavior to challenge that status quo? Must we be extra professional and bland to prove that we are capable and intelligent? Must dark skinned women stay suited, booted and fly every day to prove that we too can be hallmarks of beauty. Or lighten our skin to be able to compete in the market place? Do I have to be extra grammatically correct to prove that my race is not a marker of my intelligence. Doesn’t making an extra effort to do these things give some validity to the assumptions in the first place?
I think the process of untraining minds is a formidable task, one that I’m not sure I have the tools to undertake…but as the honorable LeVar Burton would say, don’t take my word for it, what do you think?
p.s. Speaking of the interesting names that we name our children LeVar an acceptable name? What about Treaunte, Mazda, Dejel, Ramajah, Kyroneka…etc. you get the point.