It’s not as if you need me to point out the issues of race and racial injustice in America. Between social media, camera phones, Donald Trump rallies, and my political bae we are sometimes over saturated with the daily microaggressions of NOT being White in America. We feel it in ways that White America could never and rarely attempts to even acknowledge or empathize with. The back handed compliments, the suspicious looks in public, the collective responsibility we feel when we see other brothers and sisters out there doing some World Star!!!!! BS; these and many more are just the grains of sand in our shoes that become the straws on the camels back. However I would like to talk about the sand we put in our own shoes.
I am not a person who considers himself “mixed”. Both of my parents are “Black”. I grew up in a “Black” household with parents who had predominantly Black friends, all Black relatives, Black food, Black Black Black Black Black…. Hell, my mother was a self employed hair dresser who did Black hair. However I do not have a dark complexion. I have a natural Afro like my brothers that, if grown out, could hold a fist handled pick with ease. When I see myself, as I think others see me…. I’m blickety blickety Black yall. However, comma, inevitably one of the first questions I get from people meeting me for the first time is…….. wait for it………
So what are you mixed with? Are you ALL Black? Which one of your parents is White? You’re not really Black are you? I didn’t know you were Black?
You get the picture. Why do we do that to each other? What is it about color and complexion that validates a true “Black” experience? At what shade does your NAACP membership become automatic? What is the perfect shade of Black? At what point can we say the “a” and you understand it’s not the “er”? We can’t sit here and say that, at times, we aren’t just as racist to one another as White folks are to us. We’ve been dancing with and around this for decades if not centuries. Spike Lee has often confronted it in movies like School Daze or Jungle Fever. There has long been a conversation about Black women and the “European” standard of beauty…. what is the African American standard for “Black”?
I ask all these questions not seeking answers, but seeking thought. Often we hear ourselves begging to be treated as equals in our society. Not wanting to be judged by our looks but by our character. Deep down we all know we are some of the most judgmental and color struck folks on the planet. Now I’m not going to say some dumb shit like we need to stop doing this shit to ourselves before we can expect better from others…. that’s just ignorant. I simply bring up my experience to ask the question….. “What is the perfect shade of Black?”