Monday, June 06, 2011
Talking about race and dark skin
We have lots of talk about race in my home.
We've had to deal with things of this nature before. I realize how much more aware of these things I am now than I was say, five years ago. Needless to say, Michael and I don't shy away from these topics.
Yesterday, I saw this preview for an upcoming documentary called Dark Girls and it made me so sad. It's about "deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color---particularly dark skinned women, outside of and within the Black American culture."
The part that really brought me to tears happens around 2:18, when a teacher shows a young black girl a drawing of five little girls, in various shades of color. When asked, she quickly points out the "smart, good-looking child" is the white one--light-skinned as the little girl calls her. The "dumb, ugly one" is the black child. It just broke my heart to think this little girl would consider the little girl that looks just like her is the "dumb and ugly one". Which made me wonder....did she have a low opinion of herself? Or did she just not even identify with the black child, preferring to think of herself as white, just like Claireece Precious Jones in Sapphire's book Push?
Which is very unsettling.
It's easy to say, "black is beautiful" and the "blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice" but do we really believe it? Sometimes our bias occurs and we don't even notice. I'm not black, my skin is not dark...yet I still manage to partake in these attitudes toward dark skin. When I say I prefer to have my hair straight because it feels "neat" and I feel "put together", does that mean that curly, nappy hair is the opposite?
Just last Friday my brother commented on my tan, courtesy of camping and being out in the sun for four days straight. I scrunched up my nose in distaste. Too much sun makes my freckles go crazy. And my makeup becomes invisible.
"Ugh. I hate when my face gets dark. I look dirty."
It wasn't until days later that I took in the veiled meaning of my words. People that are dark are dirty. The fact that I contribute to this type of thinking disturbs me. I think we all do at some point but just don't realize it. And so we do it unwittingly. But it's still wrong.
Solomon was sitting beside me when I watched this video. He asked me a simple question, "What did Jesus look like?" I assume he asked me this question because he was trying to decipher what this documentary was about. We talked about how God created man in His image, and that is was good. Black, white, brown, red or yellow.
His head and His hair were white like wool, like snow. Revelations 1:14 Is it safe to say Jesus had a nappy 'fro going on? And when the Bible describes it as white, I believe it has everything to do with purity and not so much about color.
His feet were like burnished bronze. Revelations 1:15 Burnished bronze? Could that also mean a deep brown color?
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2 Regardless of the color of His skin, Jesus came into this world as a simple, humble man--a carpenter's son. If Jesus' appearance wasn't of great importance, why must we focus on our own looks so very much?
Let's not forget that Jesus was a man from the Middle East. He most likely had dark skin. I told Solomon this. I wanted to convey to my son that light skin and light colored eyes shouldn't be the ideal. God, the ultimate creative being, saw fit to make us all unique from one another. There is divine beauty in everyone, whether they are white as snow or black as coal, and those of us who fall somewhere in between.