Purple Boots, Silver Stars … and White ParentsBy FRANK LIGTVOETPublished: October 13, 2013
“WHEN I wear my cap backwards, don’t copy me,” our 8-year-old son says to his 7-year-old sister. “O.K.,” she answers, “I will put it on sideways.”Enlarge This Image Joohee YoonConnect With Us on TwitterFor Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.Readers’ CommentsReaders shared their thoughts on this article.
Recently our African-American daughter, Rosa, had gone with an older black friend to Fulton Mall, a crowded commercial area in our Brooklyn neighborhood, where the shoppers are mostly black. Fulton Mall is not only about shopping, it’s also a place to flirt, talk, laugh and argue, and to listen in passing to gospel, soul, hip-hop and R & B.Rosa had seen some purple canvas boots with silver stars and lost herself in an all-consuming desire to have them. Immediately. I bought them, a bit later. A day later. And to be “fair,” I bought our son, Joshua, who is also African-American, a pair of black and yellow basketball shorts. Pretty cool as well.The next day they want to show off their new stuff and, somewhat to my surprise, they decide to do so at Fulton Mall. I am their white adoptive dad, and by now, at their age, they see the racial difference between us clearly and are not always comfortable with it in public. But they know they are too young to go alone to the mall. Before we leave, Rosa, who had always seemed indifferent to fashion, changes into tight jeans and a black short-sleeve T-shirt. Joshua twists his head to see how he looks from behind. He pushes his new shorts a bit lower over his hips, but doesn’t dare to go all the way saggy. And then — after they have their cap conversation — we go.They walk ahead. I am kept at a distance, a distance that grows as we get closer to the mall. I respect that; I grin and play stranger. (click link below to read rest of article)
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — In a school auditorium filled with laughing students, actresses Luz Bautista Matos and Clara Morel threw themselves into acting out a fairy tale complete with a princess, a hero and acts of derring-do.
Morel had wrapped a white plastic sheet around her multi-colored blouse, while Bautista donned a brown paper bag over her blue tights. The two black actresses wore their hair free and natural, decorated only with single pink flowers.
“Yes, you’re a princess,” said Bautista to Morel, who fretted that she didn’t look like a traditional princess with her dark complexion and hair. Bautista then turned to a young girl sitting in the front row, who shared the same African-descended features as both actresses. “And you too,” Morel said as the child smiled back at her.
The theater group Wonderful Tree has visited schools all over Santo Domingo and some in the countryside to spread the word among black children that their features and heritage should be a source of pride. That message, though simple, has been nothing less than startling in this Caribbean country, where 80 percent of people are classified as mulattos, meaning they have mixed black-white ancestry, but where many still consider being labeled black an offense.
Wonderful Tree represents a larger cultural movement that’s working to combat the country’s historic bias through arts and education. The Dominican choreographer Awilda Polanco runs a contemporary dance company that’s trying to rescue Afro-Caribbean traditions, while the Technological Institute of Santo Domingo has been training primary school teachers to respect and celebrate their students’ African heritage, including through skits that young children can more easily understand.
It’s a bid to transform a color-obsessed society where a majority of the country’s 10 million people choose to identify themselves as “Indio” — or “Indian” — on government documents despite their black roots, and many reject afros in favor of closely cropped hair or sleek blowouts. Public schools for decades even prohibited students from attending classes with their hair loose or in a natural frizz.
Such hair, in fact, is called “bad hair” in the local Spanish lexicon while straightened hair is “good hair.”
The Dominican population “has tried to disconnect itself from its African roots to the point where they’ve constituted a community that’s mostly mixed” but calls itself “indios,” wrote historian Frank Moya Ponsin in the prologue of the book “Good Hair, Bad Hair.”
In her school presentations, Morel flaunts her own natural looks as a point of pride. At one point in the play, Morel clutches a mask featuring straight black hair only to pull it away and reveal her dark brown kinky curls.
“This should be a source of pride because your color, your skin, your hair is an inheritance,” Morel told the children at the Albergue Educativo Infantil school in the town of Moca. “It’s the legacy of your parents, it’s the legacy of your grandparents.”
Morel said students have long been bullied and even attacked for their hair, while public schools have re-enforced the prejudice by cracking down on children sporting natural African hair, defending the measures as prevention against lice outbreaks.
“If it was only a health issue, it’d be fine, but children think there’s something bad about their features,” Morel said.
Maria Cosme, a Santo Domingo housewife, recalled the day she sent her young daughter to school with loose curly hair and a ribbon around her head. Teachers quickly tied up her daughter’s hair and warned it should remain that way if she wanted to attend classes, Cosme recalled.
“It’s a matter of racism, but also protocol,” said Cosme, who has straightened her daughter’s hair since age 4. She is now 7 years old.
Elizabeth Veloz, a graphic designer who always wore her hair natural, said the human resources director of her former company criticized her hair shortly before she was fired.
“He told me that curly hair is not proper hair, that it’s beach hair,” she said. “But the worst part is that he’s black, like me, and he cuts his hair really short because it’s kinky.”
Not everyone sees the hair issue in racial terms.
Hair stylist Yoly Reyes said she’s been relaxing her hair since she was 15.
“I am black and that will not change if I straighten my hair. But I think I look prettier with straight hair,” she said. “When have you ever seen (President Barack) Obama’s wife with kinky hair? I don’t think she straightens it to stop being black.”
Women in the Dominican Republic spend an estimated 12 percent of their household budgets on hair salons and treatments, according to “Good Hair, Bad Hair,” which included an economic and anthropological study of Dominican beauty salons.
Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who oversaw the killing of some 17,000 Haitians in 1937 in an effort to expel them from the Dominican Republic, was himself a mulatto who used makeup to make his face lighter.
Trujillo was the first to include the term “Indio” in official documents, said historian Emilio Cordero Michel.
Yet U.N. officials noted in a 2013 report that “Indian” identifiers don’t accurately reflect the country’s ethnicity and expressed concern about the country’s denial of racism. The government’s migration director, Jose Ricardo Taveras, has repeated such denials, insisting any racism is isolated.
It’s a claim that many reject, including Desiree del Rosario, coordinator of the Center for Gender Studies who runs the technological institute’s teacher training program.
Del Rosario said the country’s racism was tied to its troubled relationship with neighboring Haiti, where the population is darker-complexioned and where African culture holds a prominent place in society. Del Rosario summed up the common Dominican mentality as “The Haitians are black, and we, white.”
For Bautista and Morel, however, change is coming one child at a time. After one typically spirited, even goofy show, a dark-complexioned boy with his hair shaved close to his scalp approached Morel.
“I want to be part of your group,” the boy told the two women. “I want to be an Afro-descendent.”
Colorism – Skin Color and Intra-Racial Issues Among African-Americans
Color consciousness has been a subject that has lingered just beneath the surface of intra-racial issues among African-Americans for years. Color consciousness, or “colorism” as it is often referred to, is a phenomenon in which persons of the same race discriminate against one another based on the lightness or darkness of one’s skin. Issues with race identity have divided African-Americans in several areas including education, social status and perceived beauty. The list below serves as a sampling of several voices that have contributed their opinions on this troubling topic through literature and film.
Who’s Afraid of a Large Black Man. Charles Barkley. 2006. E184 .A1 B2444 2005
Don’t Play in the Sun: One Woman’s Journey through the Color Complex. Marita Golden. 2004. E185.86 .G625 2003
The Future of the Race. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cornel West. 1996. E185.86.G3771996
Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class. Lawrence Graham. 1999. E185.86 .G644 1999
Skin Color Recognition, Preference, and Identification in Interracial Children: A Comparative Study. Wayne West Gunthrope. 1998.
An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Skin Color on African-American Education, Income, and Occupation. Ronald E. Hall. 2005.
Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation. Michael D. Harris 2003. N8232 .H37 2003Q
Race, Gender, and the Politics of Skin Tone Margaret L. Hunter. 2005.
Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market. Walter Johnson. 1999. F379 .N59 N4 1999
The Paper Bag Principle: Class, Colorism and Rumor and the case of Black Washington DC. Audrey Elisa Kerr. 2007. E185.93.D6K47 2007
Blue Veins and Kinky Hair: Naming and Color Consciousness in African America, Obiagele Lake. 2003.
The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color among African Americans Kathy Russell, Midge Wilson and Ronald Hall. 1992. E185.625 .A78 1992
Skin Deep. Kathleen Cross. 1999
The Bluest Eye. Toni Morrison. 1970
Other People’s Skin. Tracy Price-Thompson. 2007
Passin’. Karen E. Quinones-Miller. 2008
The Human Stain. Philip Roth. 2000
The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life. Wallace Thurman. 1996
A Girl Like Me. Directed by Kiri Davis. 2005. Available for viewing online at Media That Matters
A Question of color. Directed by Kathe Sandler.1992. VIDEOTAPE; Sights and Sounds Department
Imitation of Life. Directed by John M. Stahl/Doulas Sirk. 2004. DVD; Sights and Sounds Department
One Drop Rule. Directed by James Banks. 2001.
School Daze. directed by Spike Lee. 1988. DVD; Sights and Sounds Department
The African American cinema II: The scar of shame. 1923, Sissle and Blake. 1926. VIDEOTAPE; Sights and Sounds Department
The Human Stain. Directed by Robert Benton. 2004. DVD; Sights and Sounds Department
Color Struck: A Play in Four Scenes. Zora Neale Hurston.1925. Reprinted 1994. PS153.N5.P671994
Additional Resources (Journal Articles)
Link to Word Document: African Americans and Racial Identity
To access, visit the Pratt Library Website at Databases. A Pratt Library card number may be required to access databases outside of the library.
African American Experience
The African American Experience, part of the American Mosaic Online Reference Family, provides user friendly electronic access to over 400 reference works covering African American scholarship from earliest times to present day. This database includes slave narratives and primary documents as well as audio clips, music and interviews with notable African Americans.
African American History and Culture
This electronic encyclopedia includes thousands of entries covering the entire breadth of African-American history—from African beginnings through the slave trade and the Civil Rights Movement to the present.
If you would like to know more about this subject, email us through our Ask-A-Librarian service, call the African American Department at 410-361-9287, or mail your questions to:
Genocide is a process that develops in eight stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it. The process is not linear. Logically, later stages must be preceded by earlier stages. But all stages continue to operate throughout the process.
1. CLASSIFICATION: All cultures have categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi. Bipolar societies that lack mixed categories, such as Rwanda and Burundi, are the most likely to have genocide. The main preventive measure at this early stage is to develop universalistic institutions that transcend ethnic or racial divisions, that actively promote tolerance and understanding, and that promote classifications that transcend the divisions. The Catholic church could have played this role in Rwanda, had it not been riven by the same ethnic cleavages as Rwandan society. Promotion of a common language in countries like Tanzania has also promoted transcendent national identity. This search for common ground is vital to early prevention of genocide.
2. SYMBOLIZATION: We give names or other symbols to the classifications. We name people “Jews” or “Gypsies”, or distinguish them by colors or dress; and apply the symbols to members of groups. Classification and symbolization are universally human and do not necessarily result in genocide unless they lead to the next stage, dehumanization. When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups: the yellow star for Jews under Nazi rule, the blue scarf for people from the Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge Cambodia. To combat symbolization, hate symbols can be legally forbidden (swastikas) as can hate speech. Group marking like gang clothing or tribal scarring can be outlawed, as well. The problem is that legal limitations will fail if unsupported by popular cultural enforcement. Though Hutu and Tutsi were forbidden words in Burundi until the 1980’s, code-words replaced them. If widely supported, however, denial of symbolization can be powerful, as it was in Bulgaria, where the government refused to supply enough yellow badges and at least eighty percent of Jews did not wear them, depriving the yellow star of its significance as a Nazi symbol for Jews.
3. DEHUMANIZATION: One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder. At this stage, hate propaganda in print and on hate radios is used to vilify the victim group. In combating this dehumanization, incitement to genocide should not be confused with protected speech. Genocidal societies lack constitutional protection for countervailing speech, and should be treated differently than democracies. Local and international leaders should condemn the use of hate speech and make it culturally unacceptable. Leaders who incite genocide should be banned from international travel and have their foreign finances frozen. Hate radio stations should be shut down, and hate propaganda banned. Hate crimes and atrocities should be promptly punished.
4. ORGANIZATION: Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the Janjaweed in Darfur.) Sometimes organization is informal (Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants) or decentralized (terrorist groups.) Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. Plans are made for genocidal killings. To combat this stage, membership in these militias should be outlawed. Their leaders should be denied visas for foreign travel. The U.N. should impose arms embargoes on governments and citizens of countries involved in genocidal massacres, and create commissions to investigate violations, as was done in post-genocide Rwanda.
5. POLARIZATION: Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction. Extremist terrorism targets moderates, intimidating and silencing the center. Moderates from the perpetrators’ own group are most able to stop genocide, so are the first to be arrested and killed. Prevention may mean security protection for moderate leaders or assistance to human rights groups. Assets of extremists may be seized, and visas for international travel denied to them. Coups d’état by extremists should be opposed by international sanctions.
6. PREPARATION: Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. Members of victim groups are forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is expropriated. They are often segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved. At this stage, a Genocide Emergency must be declared. If the political will of the great powers, regional alliances, or the U.N. Security Council can be mobilized, armed international intervention should be prepared, or heavy assistance provided to the victim group to prepare for its self-defense. Otherwise, at least humanitarian assistance should be organized by the U.N. and private relief groups for the inevitable tide of refugees to come.
7. EXTERMINATION begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” It is “extermination” to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human. When it is sponsored by the state, the armed forces often work with militias to do the killing. Sometimes the genocide results in revenge killings by groups against each other, creating the downward whirlpool-like cycle of bilateral genocide (as in Burundi). At this stage, only rapid and overwhelming armed intervention can stop genocide. Real safe areas or refugee escape corridors should be established with heavily armed international protection. (An unsafe “safe” area is worse than none at all.) The U.N. Standing High Readiness Brigade, EU Rapid Response Force, or regional forces — should be authorized to act by the U.N. Security Council if the genocide is small. For larger interventions, a multilateral force authorized by the U.N. should intervene. If the U.N. is paralyzed, regional alliances must act. It is time to recognize that the international responsibility to protect transcends the narrow interests of individual nation states. If strong nations will not provide troops to intervene directly, they should provide the airlift, equipment, and financial means necessary for regional states to intervene.
8. DENIAL is the eighth stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. They block investigations of the crimes, and continue to govern until driven from power by force, when they flee into exile. There they remain with impunity, like Pol Pot or Idi Amin, unless they are captured and a tribunal is established to try them. The response to denial is punishment by an international tribunal or national courts. There the evidence can be heard, and the perpetrators punished. Tribunals like the Yugoslav or Rwanda Tribunals, or an international tribunal to try the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, or an International Criminal Court may not deter the worst genocidal killers. But with the political will to arrest and prosecute them, some may be brought to justice.
The White Supremacist Infiltration of Rap Music by Solomon Comissiong August 15th, 2013 @ 9:03am KKK_homepage No Comments 1 Vote Share with Shortlink: ________________ The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AllHipHop.com _________________ Hip Hop music has been hijacked by corporate Klansmen who suppress the righteous lyrics of artists “like Dead Prez, Capital X, Immortal Technique, Rebel Diaz, Jasiri X, and Bahamadia.” Rap artists that have enslaved themselves to the production of stereotypes and gratuitous violence should be rehabilitated, if possible, but “we must boycott any music that denigrates people of color and women.” The White Supremacist Infiltration of Rap Music “The white corporate media that popularize racially stereotypical images hate black people just as the KKK does.” The late great African freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman, once said, “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” This statement clearly alludes to the fact that, after a long period of brutal enslavement, many (not all) Africans had been force-programmed to accept their inhumane bondage as “normal.” Generations of Africans were born into one of the world’s most brutal forms of bondage: chattel slavery. Thus, they were literally forced to endure a most unnatural state of being. Africans were brutally beaten, raped, lynched and worked to death, for hundreds of years. Their European enslavers were nothing less than devils roaming planet earth. Despite these horrendous conditions there were some Africans who were oblivious that they were, in fact, enslaved. This aspect of slavery presented arduous challenges to freedom fighters such as Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey and Gabriel Prosser – trying to free those who were unaware of their bondage, physical or mental. Fast-forward to the year 2013, this remains an arduous task. Chattel slavery may be a thing of the past, however, the US prison industrial complex legalizes mass incarceration/enslavement of African/black men and women. The 13th Amendment to the US constitution attempts to justify it, stating, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Mass incarceration is involuntary servitude, where prisoners are forced to make products (lingerie, computer components, clothing, etc.), all to be sold within the so-called “free market.” Capitalism, institutional racism and white supremacy are all key ingredients within this brew from hell. “Mass incarceration is involuntary servitude.” Today, mental slavery is perhaps even more prevalent than the physical form, and it takes place within many different platforms. One of these platforms resides within the duplicitous realm of mainstream, corporate-backed Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a culture created and cultivated by African/black and Latino youth who had been systematically marginalized by the United States’ white supremacist and instituitionally racist society. These youth created Hip Hop as a means to express themselves – socially, politically and culturally. Hip Hop’s creation and inception was free of Euro-American influence – at least within the earliest stages. These youth of color did not need their medium manipulated or diluted by white people who never gave a damn about them or their communities. In essence, youth of color did not need to have Hip Hop altered and co-opted by white America in the same manner that Blues, Jazz and even Rhythm & Blues (Rock n Roll) was. However, Europeans are always on the lookout for cultural “products” to exploit. People of color should be extremely wary when white people start to take an interest in our community or cultural creations. In the case of Hip Hop, exploitation of the cultural medium is the most significant contribution white people and their media corporations have had on rap music (one of the elements of Hip Hop Culture). These corporations have created virtual plantations with slave masters disguised as CEOs and overseers masquerading around as record executives and A & R (artists and repertoire) folks. Their goal has always been to make as much money as they can, exploiting Hip Hop and its artists of color, all the while reshaping it into something that comports with their racist sensibilities. White corporations that have stretched their slimy tentacles over commercial rap music are the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) of the media. The KKK is a white supremacist hate group whose origins date back to the 1800s. The white corporate media that popularize racially stereotypical images hate black people just as the KKK does. They are hell bent on destroying the images and minds of millions of black youth, actively suppressing any culturally empowering or politically revolutionary oriented aspects within rap music. They could not give a damn about the systematic oppression levied upon communities of color. They are no different from the virulently racist Euro-Americans who created racist and dehumanizing imagery during the early 20th century, and prior. And like today’s corporate Ku Klux Klan media, they used those racist images to sell their products. “Corporations have created virtual plantations with slave masters disguised as CEOs and overseers masquerading around as record executives and A & R (artists and repertoire) folks.” It has become convenient to solely lay the blame on black and brown rappers (they are not emcees) for the psychologically destructive lyrics and images they display within their “music.” These young men and women are nothing more than tools used by white record executives to accumulate boatloads of money. This is always done at the black community’s expense. It is tragically disconcerting that many of these young men and women are mostly oblivious to the fact that they are being exploited like prostitutes. The shiny trinkets and money these corporate slave masters throw at misguided rappers are rewards used to keep them mentally obsequious to capitalism and the plantations they dwell in. They are not unlike the enslaved Africans whom sister Harriet Tubman was trying to convince that they were, in fact, slaves. Of course, there are some so-called rappers who are willing participants in the own exploitation. They have become more than comfortable with the lavish lifestyle their corporate media slave masters have rewarded them with. It matters little to them that the stereotypes they are helping their white puppeteers promote, are causing tremendous psychological damage to youth of color. These willing participants are more like Sambo from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. They truly enjoy being the overseer of the white media’s premeditated destruction of the African/black psyche and image. They are consorting with what should be seen as a direct enemy to the black community. “There was two kind of slaves. There was the house negro and the field negro. The house negro, they lived in the house, with master. They dressed pretty good. They ate good, cause they ate his food, what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near their master, and they loved their master, more than their master loved himself. They would give their life to save their masters house quicker than their master would.” – Malcolm X Corporate backed African/black Hip Hop artists should abscond from the plantations they have been programmed to mentally dwell within. They should rebel against their media slave masters (i.e., Warner Music Group, Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, etc.) and create music collectives and art that directly empowers, edifies and politically inspires the communities from which many of these artists come. In essence they should invoke the spirit of many of our ancestors who rebelled against the oppressive and unnatural conditions they were held in. Just as the Africans rebelled during the Haitian Revolution, these African/black Hip Hop artists should do the same – inspiring Hip Hop artists all over the corporate media airwaves (plantations) to emancipate themselves. “Some so-called rappers are willing participants in the own exploitation.” These artists need to say, “To hell with the corporate music/media Ku Klux Klan,” and begin to pool their money, resources and time, in efforts to develop truly independent African/black record labels. However, before they can do any of that they will have to be made aware of their present status as subjects within the thriving plantations created for their ilk. Fans, concerned Africans and supporters of Hip Hop will need to be the ones to bring this fact to their attention. They need to be reminded that if you can’t write or rap about the institutionally racist and systemic issues that plague their communities, how can you even consider yourself a free man or woman? If the corporate media plantation (and those who control it) prevents you from utilizing your music to empower your people, you are far from being free. Hip Hop was crafted by people of color within neglected and oppressed communities. Hip Hop was created by African/black youth with Latino youth significantly contributing to its cultivation and development. It is a means of expression. It has long been a medium used to exert resistance to various forms of oppression. It is reprehensible that it is now being used as a tool to further oppress and keep youth of color from seeing US society for what it truly is – a wasteland of white supremacy and structural racism. This is exactly why these Ku Klux Klan music groups, and media corporations (Viacom, Clear Channel, etc.) do all they can to suppress the music of artists like Dead Prez, Capital X, Immortal Technique, Rebel Diaz, Jasiri X, and Bahamadia, among many others. These artists, their imagery, and music are routinely suppressed from the mainstream airwaves. While the Klan media suppresses songs like: “Malcolm, Garvey, Huey” by Deaz Prez, they promote songs like “Birthday Song” by 2 Chainz featuring Kanye West. One song (“Malcolm, Garvey, Huey”) has lyrics like this: “I live, I die, I organize, Everything I do – revolutionize, I build what’s good for the whole damn hood, Study G’s like these, really think you should, I study Malcolm Garvey Huey, Malcolm Garvey Huey.” The other song (“Birthday Song”) has lyrics like this: “When I die, bury me inside the jewelry store When I die, bury me inside the Truey store True to my religion, two of everything I’m too different So when I die, bury me next to 2 bitches.” It should be blatantly obvious why the Klan corporate media would suppress the liberating lyrics of artists like Dead Prez: they are empowering and edifying, especially to youth of color. However, the lyrics from artists like 2 Chainz, are mentally destructive, misogynistic (especially to women of color) and racially stereotypical. Many of the other songs the Klan media promote depict black men directing senseless violence toward one another. Klan media give the thumbs up to this type of rap music because, like the real Ku Klux Klan, it is capable of destroying black lives, one young mind at a time. “It is time we helped free them by demanding they end their ‘coonery’ and start making music that uplifts and inspires the oppressed masses to resist.” Hip Hop is not the problem, the white media corporations that have hijacked it are. Yes, there are rappers (not emcees) who are willing to do whatever it takes to earn a quick buck and get famous. They are prisoners of war in the battle against capitalism and white supremacy. It is time we helped free them by demanding they end their “coonery” and start making music that uplifts and inspires the oppressed masses to resist. Many of these rappers are misguided. This tends to happen within extremely white supremacist societies, as is the case with the US. It pressures the racially oppressed to assimilate as a means toward “getting ahead,” in life. The notion of “getting ahead” is merely relative, as well as a wretched illusion. While they believe they are “getting ahead,” they are really falling behind culturally, losing their identity, and perpetually being used as pawns. Their existence within the corporate music industry has been made possible by an inherently racist and exploitative system. This system prevents them from mentally venturing away from the “plantation.” Their minds must be freed. If they are eventually freed they will one day undoubtedly regret the decisions they once made simply to “cash in” and gain “fame” by lacing their lyrics with sexist, misogynistic and racially stereotypical content. “The house Negro, if the master said ‘we got a good house here’ the house negro say ‘yeah, we got a good house here.’ Whenever the master would said ‘we,’ he’d say ‘we.’ That’s how you can tell a house Negro. If the master’s house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say ‘What’s the matter, boss, we sick?’ We sick! He identified himself with his master, more than the master identified with himself.” – Malcolm X We must free those who are oblivious to their slave-like status within corporate backed Hip Hop. We must let them know of the powerful role they can play within a much-needed social revolution. We cannot support the plantations they dwell on by buying their music. After all, would you go to a “slave auction” and purchase human chattel or anything sold by a “slave master”? No, our objective would not be to support the reprehensible institution of slavery, our objective would be to free those standing on the auction blocks. And we must let it be known why we are boycotting the purchase of music from corporate Hip Hop plantations. “And if you came to the house Negro and said ‘Let’s run away, Let’s escape, Let’s separate’ the house negro would look at you and say ‘Man, you crazy. What you mean separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?’ There was that house Negro. In those days, he was called a house nigger. And that’s what we call him today, because we still got some house niggers runnin’ around here.” – Malcolm X Of course there will continue to be those rappers and record executives of color that will continue to side with their “Massas,” just as there were during the times of chattel slavery. Those are the individuals who know the nature of the so-called “game,” and to some degree profit from the system. It matters little to them how many women/girls are targeted as sexual objects because of the music they help promote. They could give a damn about the young boys who are transformed into sexual predators because of that same music they promote. And they clearly don’t give a damn about the image of people of color or the endorsement of the senseless structural violence they champion, each time they follow their master’s orders. They have clearly made their deals with the devils of capitalism and white supremacy. Money is the name and selling out their communities is the “game.” These “Sambos” understand full well the damage they are helping to create. “They have clearly made their deals with the devils of capitalism and white supremacy.” Music has the ability to inspire and motivate those who seek freedom and justice. The beat of drums serves as a pulse for the movement, along with the voices of those chanting, singing, or even rapping. Take for instance the Stono Rebellion of 1739, where dozens of enslaved Africans in South Carolina decided to no longer accept the unnatural state of slavery. They refused to live any longer within those inhumane and brutal conditions. These courageous Africans banded together, led by an African named “Jemmy,” and proceeded to recruit/free as many of their brothers and sisters as they could. The beat of their native African drums set the audio tone for resistance. The history of the Americas is punctuated with such rebellions. However, far too many of us have allowed an oppressive system to teach us our history, and because of this we are unaware that resistance is within our cultural DNA. “But that field negro, remember, they were in the majority, and they hated their master. When the house caught on fire, he didn’t try to put it out, that field negro prayed for a wind. For a breeze. When the master got sick, the field negro prayed that he died. If someone come to the field negro and said ‘Let’s separate, let’s run,’ he didn’t say ‘Where we going?’ He said ‘Any place is better than here.” – Malcolm X It is long overdue that we regain our cultural resistance, identity, and mediums, in order to serve our struggle for human rights, liberty, and social justice. It is time we gathered all of our “drums” (and voices), to begin the necessary process of mentally liberating as many of our brothers and sisters from the corporate media plantations on which they subsist. Hip Hop is not for oppressors. We should never allow it to be utilized against our own collective interests. However, we cannot free those who are willing to be liberated if we refuse to speak out. We must boycott any music that denigrates people of color, women or supports senseless structural violence. We must be willing to organize and educate as many misguided rappers as we can – converting them into Emcees aptly educated to deliver lyrical daggers at systems of oppression. Hip Hop must be ripped out of the hands of the Ku Klux Klan music groups, and placed back in the hands of the people. Let the spirit of our ancestors guide us. Forward Ever, Backward Never. Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, and the host of the Your World News media collective (www.yourworldnews.org). Mr. Comissiong is also a founding member of the Pan-African collective for Advocacy & Action. Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through the lens of his own family’s experience,
the author explores why West Indians and American
blacks are perceived differently.
My cousin Rosie and her husband, Noel, live in a two-bedroom bungalow on Argyle Avenue, in Uniondale, on the west end of Long Island. When they came to America, twelve years ago, they lived in a basement apartment a dozen or so blocks away, next to their church. At the time, they were both taking classes at the New York Institute of Technology, which was right nearby. But after they graduated, and Rosie got a job managing a fast-food place and Noel got a job in asbestos removal, they managed to save a little money and bought the house on Argyle Avenue.
From the outside, their home looks fairly plain. It’s in a part of Uniondale that has a lot of tract housing from just after the war, and most of the houses are alike–squat and square, with aluminum siding, maybe a dormer window in the attic, and a small patch of lawn out front. But there is a beautiful park down the street, the public schools are supposed to be good, and Rosie and Noel have built a new garage and renovated the basement. Now that Noel has started his own business, as an environmental engineer, he has his office down there–Suite 2B, it says on his stationery–and every morning he puts on his tie and goes down the stairs to make calls and work on the computer. If Noel’s business takes off, Rosie says, she would like to move to a bigger house, in Garden City, which is one town over. She says this even though Garden City is mostly white. In fact, when she told one of her girlfriends, a black American, about this idea, her friend said that she was crazy–that Garden City was no place for a black person. But that is just the point. Rosie and Noel are from Jamaica. They don’t consider themselves black at all.
This doesn’t mean that my cousins haven’t sometimes been lumped together with American blacks. Noel had a job once removing asbestos at Kennedy Airport, and his boss there called him “nigger” and cut his hours. But Noel didn’t take it personally. That boss, he says, didn’t like women or Jews, either, or people with college degrees–or even himself, for that matter. Another time, Noel found out that a white guy working next to him in the same job and with the same qualifications was making ten thousand dollars a year more than he was. He quit the next day. Noel knows that racism is out there. It’s just that he doesn’t quite understand–or accept–the categories on which it depends.
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This novel by James Weldon Johnson chronicles a biracial man’s decision to pass for white.
Dover Publications Inc.
Updated February 01, 2010
Just what is internalized racism1? One might describe it as a fancy term for a problem that’s pretty easy to grasp. In a society where racial prejudice thrives in politics, communities, institutions and popular culture, it’s difficult for racial minorities to avoid absorbing the racist messages that constantly bombard them. Thus, even people of color sometimes adopt a white supremacist mindset that results in self-hatred and hatred of their respective racial group. Minorities suffering from internalized racism, for example, may loathe the physical characteristics that make them racially distinct such as skin color, hair texture or eye shape. Others may stereotype2 those from their racial group and refuse to associate with them. And some may outright identify as white. Overall, minorities suffering from internalized racism buy into the notion that whites are superior to people of color. Think of it as Stockholm Syndrome in the racial sphere.
Causes of Internalized Racism
While some minorities grew up in diverse communities where racial differences were appreciated, others felt rejected due to their skin color. Being bullied3 because of ethnic background and encountering harmful messages about race in greater society may be all it takes to get a person of color to begin loathing themselves. For some minorities, the impetus to turn racism inward occurs when they see whites receiving privileges denied to people of color.
“I don’t want to live in the back. Why do we always have to live in the back?” a fair-skinned black character named Sarah Jane asks in the 1959 film “Imitation of Life.”4 Sarah Jane ultimately decides to abandon her black mother and pass for white because she “wants to have a chance in life.” She explains, “I don’t want to have to come through back doors or feel lower than other people.”
In the classic novel Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man5, the mixed-race protagonist first begins to experience internalized racism after he witnesses a white mob burn a black man alive. Rather than empathize with the victim, he chooses to identify with the mob. He explains:
“I understood that it was not discouragement, or fear, or search for a larger field of action and opportunity, that was driving me out of the Negro race. I knew that it was shame, unbearable shame. Shame at being identified with a people that could with impunity be treated worse than animals.”