“We ain’t the same color when police show up.” – MURS
Before I talk about Trayvon, let’s talk about stigma.
There was a girl in my high school who had a white mother and a black father. She hung out with the cheerleader, varsity letterman crowd. Apparently, she was very embarrassed every time her father came to school functions because she easily passed for white.
Not every case of colorism is as dramatic as “Imitation of Life.” And not every case is American. The massacres in Darfur were carried out by dark Arabs. The Dalits in India are very dark. Aborigines in Australia are treated like shit. The list goes on and on.
And being a black person in a high school where the faculty supported David Duke, I had my own issues with color. My teen years were spent mostly in Jefferson Parish, right outside of New Orleans. I did not sound like the majority of the black population when I talked. My classmates were mostly white people. I was an outcast any way you looked at it.
But, my issues were not so cut and dry. Public Enemy fueled my thoughts. I started listening to Farrakhan tapes. I read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” My issues with black folk involved mostly what I saw as self hate. Why did the Creole women get all the attention? Exactly what is “good hair” or “pretty eyes?”
But if I dig deeper into myself, I have to admit I know those issues intimately, because there was a time when I had them myself. It took effort, but I had to think my way out of them. Hip hop helped me with that. It made me self-analyze and come up with conclusions about who I was and about my skin’s societal stigma. But as a black person, I had no choice but to come to this conclusion if I wanted to see a progression in my self esteem. Other people do not necessarily have to have this epiphany.