I hate when people say they don’t notice race. Of course you do. You’re not blind. Not only can you see the tone of someone’s skin, you can see the differences in their facial features, eye colours, hair textures, heights, and weights. You can hear the differences in tone of voice, accent, inflection, and word choice. You can look at 2 different people with generally the same skin coloring and guess that one is from East Asia, and one is from The Caribbean. There are cues and indications of race written all over us.
Why is it that some people think that saying “I don’t even see race”, or “I don’t even notice the colour of someone’s skin” is somehow complimentary, and is an indication of their lack of racist thoughts? I generally despise when people say that everyone is the same to them. Like somehow, any differences in people’s ancestry or cultural beliefs and values no longer exist. Are you so desperate to be seen as not racist, and so confused on what the definition of racism is, that you’d prefer for the concept of race and/or culture to just be eliminated all-together? Not only is that silly and naïve, but it’s downright insulting.
Race exists. And whether you want to condemn someone based on their race, or make their race disappear because acknowledging it makes you uncomfortable, you’re still expressing prejudice. What is your problem with acknowledging that someone is different from you in some ways? Does the fact that they are different in some ways make them lesser? Is it that, in your brain, you feel as though you just happen to be the standard, the ideal of what makes someone a human being, so anybody who differs slightly from you doesn’t quite measure up on your scale? Or is it some type of projected reverse ethnocentrism, where you feel as though people in other races/cultures think that they don’t measure up to yours, so you kindly negate the differences for them, so they don’t have to feel inferior to you (the poor things)?
eth·no·cen·trism [eth-noh-sen-triz-uhm] noun: 1.Sociology . the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s ownethnic group or culture. 2.a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspectiveof one’s own.Reverse Ethnocentrism:a type of ethnocentrism in which the home culture [or ones own culture] is regarded as inferior to a foreign culture.
Last week I was reading a blog post, which is what sparked this rant in my mind. You can see the post that originally brought this to my attention here, or take a look at the commentary that sparked that post here, and the article written by the white woman here. Now, while I have tended to side with both blog writers, and the outraged commenters, what rang so loud and true in my head as I read this woman’s ridiculous article was not necessarily all of the generally veiled racism she didn’t seem to understand she was spouting with a vengeance. It was the fact that this white woman with her perfect little white-woman body began to create this scenario in her mind where she is being resented and is causing so much distress to the fat black woman for two reasons. First, it was the fact that this poor black woman made the unfortunate mistake of setting up her mat behind this delusional woman, and second, because she was projecting her reverse ethnocentrism onto said woman.
How could this woman assume that her blond hair, white skin, and tiny little body was what was the ideal in the other woman’s mind, and therefore something that could cause resentment and envy to fester? See, this is what happens when you try to erase racial and cultural differences. Lady, while I am sure that there are in fact black women who wish they could be just like you, from my experience, most black women do not aspire to be a skinny, blond, white woman when they grow up. They want curves, some booty, some jiggle to their thighs. They know that an all blond ‘do would look ridiculous with their skin tone, and they are in LOVE with their skin tone! Who are you to decide that this woman wants to be you, and hates you cause she can’t be? And because your ignorant self would never start a conversation with her, because you would just be mortified if you woke up one day fat and black (which really could be the kinda curvy a lot of black women like, for all we know…she never really specified) and would just want to disappear into a hole in the ground, doesn’t mean that anybody but you feels that way.
So that lady illustrated two important points: the first being that, acknowledging differences in culture and race can be prejudiced and/or racist, and that ethnocentrism is for morons. But honestly, I would rather that lady come speak to me than some delusional “the colour of your skin is invisible to me” idiot. I mean, really? Do you not see how that could be equally terrible? To ignore all of the things that make me special, to just wipe them away and never acknowledge them…how does that make us equal? Isn’t equality the fact that, given all of my differences and similarities, I am still JUST as special and awesome and as privileged as you are? I get all of those same rights, regardless of the differences that go skin deep?
I went to school with primarily white people all the way until high school. There was maybe a handful of children from other races until middle school, but I never felt as though I was some freak, or that there was something wrong with being black. Nor did I feel like it didn’t matter, like nobody noticed. Sure, I was black…where was I from? My background is Jamaican…cool! They would ask questions, I would answer. How the hell else do you learn about things you don’t know unless you ask, right? Then, when we were in high school, and the questions had long ago been exhausted, the new dialogues that would happen still acknowledged my background, while not making it something that made us from different planets. So, something along the lines of:
“OMG Sarah, I LOVE your hair that colour!”
“Ugh, I know, but I hate my man shoulders! Ugh, Ruby, you are SO lucky you don’t get freckles!”
“Ummmmm yes I do, on my nose!”
“Yeah, but at least you don’t get them all over your body..I feel like the speckled monster!”
“Yeah, but your lashes are sooooo dark next to your pale skin girl! You don’t even need mascara, you look hot when you roll out of bed!”
And so on. The point is, they saw my race. They saw my difference in skin colour. Was it some big issue? No. But should they have pretended that I looked just like them, and that perming my hair every 2 months had the same stresses and challenges as having naturally straight hair? Of course not. I’m proud of everything that makes me..whether it makes me the same or different from you is kind of irrelevant. But I want all of me acknowledged, and all of me to be accepted and embraced, not just the parts of me that you can relate to or stomach.
And finally, to that little white woman who think she’s the envy of the world. I want a black booty. In fact, I would do terrible things to obtain one. I think a full figure with lots of curves is sexy. In fact, the other day I was complaining you could see my ribs and how desperately I wanted not to be underweight (which is not a choice – its due to my health issues)…and the person I was speaking to said, “do you know how many white girls would kill for that?!!?!” Well, I personally know one. And I don’t understand her, to idealize seeing your ribs is just… *shudders*…but to me, it makes me look as sick as I feel, and I want to look young and healthy and vibrant…which to me, means some meat on your bones and junk in the trunk.
I don’t particularly like blond hair on anyone, but definitely not on me. And when I was a little kid, like most kids, I wanted the things I didn’t get to have, like glasses and braces and, the one that is relevant to this post, someone else’s hair type. Was it your hair I was coveting, Miss Thang? Hell no! I wanted that wavy Trini hair, or for my hair to be naturally like Scary Spice, in the Spice Girls. Just saying.
Just my two cents on the situation. Do you agree? Disagree? If you’re one of those people that claim not to see race, and therefore never acknowledge race, why? Are you for real, or do you think that it’s really just the PC thing to do?
Browsing YouTube I actually came across this video that fits perfectly within this post. Y’all need to check this out, and go like the post on YouTube. I was basically cheering by the end of her vid. Not at all what I was expecting, but boy was I pleasantly surprised!
See, it was amazing, right? Don’t you just wanna give her a standing ovation? Especially considering that she knew off the bat she was going to catch a lot of flack and opposition.
Anyway, a nice lil rant to start off your wonderful first week in February 20-14, and the first week in Black History Month!
Happy Monday y’all!