samedi, novembre 12, 2005

Black Is, Black Ain't and Black is Everything In Between

"One of the first 'world' truths revealed to me when I at last became a member of SCHOOL was that, to be socially successful, a little girl must be Bright (of skin). It was better if your hair was curly, too --- or at least Good Grade (Good Grade implied, usually, no involvement with the Hot Comb)---but Bright you marvelously needed to be"
---Gwendolyn Brooks, Report from Part One: An Autobiography (1972)

"It is best to be absolutely clear that the ubiquity and prominence currently accorded to exceptionally beautiful and glamorous but nonetheless racialized bodies do nothing to change the everyday forms of racial hierarchy. The historic associations of blackness with infrahumanity, brutality, crime, idleness, excessive threatening fertility, and so on remain undisturbed. But the appearance of a rich visual culture that allows blackness to be beautiful also feeds a fundamental lack of confidence in the power of the body to hold the boundaries of racial difference in place. It creates anxiety about the older racial hierarchies that make the revolutionary ideas of black beauty oxymoronic..."
----Paul Gilroy, Against Race

I like this photo a great deal. I enjoy the beauty of Alek Wek and find her blackness refreshing, though I haven't seen her in any ads or magazines recently.

As a native Louisianaian now living in New York, I've noticed several things about myself. Living here has made me angrier, meaner, gruffer, and more self-conscious? I haven't had the usual issues with skin tone since I was a little girl. Now that I'm in New York, they've ominously come creeping back. I never thought that not only being black, but a black woman of a darker hue would deny me a date with black men in the city!!! It sounds ridiculous but its true. Does my undeniable, unmistakeable blackness have no currency in Manhattan?

My experiences here had led me to interrogate my own blackness and position it within 2005. Back in the day, light brights were the thing. Add in hair texture and facial phenotypes and one could create a social hierarchy for women within blackness. I was always towards the bottom with my dark skin, nappy hair and very African features but I never felt that this would exclude me from the "marriagables", until I moved to the NY. Its made me incredibly self-conscious.

I'm now on my 3rd year here and find myself more conflicted than ever. My blackness is clearly more like Alek Wek than lets say a Vanessa Williams or a LisaRaye, and I have quickly found that this leaves me with no currency in the dating world. And I am so tired of having this conversation with black men!!! I will never have it again. Firstly, because I don't want to play into the stereotype of the angry black woman. Secondly, I'm tired of them acting like I'm crazy and lastly, I don't want to feed their egos any more than they already are.

Manhattan seems to celebrate for lack of a better word "exotics". I despise the word ---I feel that its perjorative when used towards people [Lord knows I've been called that my fair share of times]. Asians, Latinas, White Women. They all have currency. Bi- and multiracialism have special kinds of currency. But what about me. I know that this experience is valid. My experience. Maybe I need to move to....I don't know where, just somewhere where I can be appreciated for my Alek Wek like looks. All I know is, is that Manhattan isn't the place.

"I have only one solution: to rise above this absurd drama that others have staged around me" --- Franz Fanon