Black White Man

My mother is black, and my father is white. I walk among you.

Archive for April, 2013

What if Rashida Jones and Tiger Woods had kiddos?

This past week on Parks and Recreation, Rashida Jones’ character makes a quip about having had a crush on Tiger Woods and fantasizing about them being married. This led me into a interesting side dream about them having kids. If they did, their kids would also be half-Black, and almost (three-eighths?) half-White. I just find that really interesting on some level. Are any of my readers half-Black/half-White kids of two half-Black/half-White parents?

The sad state of internalized racism in Africa

We here in the States often talk about internalized racism in our (the African-American) community. We talk about Black men dating White women. We talk about the use of the n-word. We talk about Black on Black violence, and the need for support within the community for Black owned businesses. All of these are important conversations.

But, I think, our community suffers from the same kind of egocentrism, isolationism and, in some cases, xenophobia that American culture at large generally suffers from. I think we don’t know enough about modern Africa. And, sadly, a lot of understanding about the modern state of Africa has to do intense internalized racism.

White people are a minority in Africa. And they are often immigrants, those who are wealthy enough in their own country to travel to Africa for business, charity, or tourism. So the perception equating White people with power and privilege is even more strongly felt. When I lived in Africa I would often hear people compliment each other on light skin (“Comment il est si claire!”). I once heard a policeman doing a routine search of a public bus at a highway checkpoint warn the passengers that although his skin was dark, he “thought like a white man”, that is to say, he was smart. At one point a friend of mine had a friend who had moved to America come back to visit, and everyone remarked about how he had lightened while there — as if living in rich, White country literally rubbed off on him. As a very light-skinned man with ancestors from the area (in fact, more ancestors from that area than from any other in the world), it made me very sad.

Most of it, like many things, has nothing to do America. But some of it, like many things, does. I think a piece of it is that everywhere around the world they consume huge amounts of American media. Even out in the bush near where I lived, where people don’t have electricity and running water, they would come together in the local church to watch DVDs of movies like Die Hard and Rapid Fire. They had Manimal and Columbo on TV. And through American media they absorb our messed up ideas about what makes women (and men) beautiful, smart and successful. And part of that, unfortunately, tends to be having lighter skin.