Dirty laundry needs to be washed

By Gus Bode

Can you really love yourself without loving the people or culture that bore you into existence?

The issue of self-examination is in order for the truths behind “intra-skin color discrimination,” which refers to actions placed against a group of people based on skin color in their own race. I was somewhat naive that African Americans in the twenty-first century were still affected by this in family lives, social relationships and even the workplace.

When I undertook a Black American Studies course last year, the taboo subject of color lines in the African-American community arose. For those who are unaware of the ‘color complex’ issue in the black community, Kathy Russell, the author of “The Color Complex – The Politics of Skin Color among African Americans” gives the definition. Russell stated, “Traditionally the color complex involved light-skinned blacks rejection of blacks who were darker. Increasingly, however, the color complex shows up in the form of dark-skinned African Americans spurning their lighter-skinned brothers and sisters for not being black enough. In short, the ‘color complex’ is a psychological fixation about color and features that leads blacks to discriminate against each other.”


My fellow cohorts in class began to tell of their tribulations of youth of being taunted for having dark skin, while the mixed people were scorned for being confused “Oreos.” A dark-skinned gentleman who had expressed being scorned for having such prominent African features went on to say in a reassuring manner that he didn’t like anything “light or close to white.” Some females, light and dark, agreed. Another female in the class stated her problems holding relationships with light-skinned women and men because of family color-line issues. I was ultimately appalled. To better understand my sisters and brothers, I researched family members, online articles and books on the subject.

Miscegenation, or racial mixing, was common during slavery. Racial mixing happened mostly, but not always, under sexual rape from the masters to enslaved women. According to Russell, “A shortage of women, both African and European, contributed to the widespread mixing of races in early America. White men outnumbered women three or four to one.” Russell also stated that the slaves of white ancestry were oftentimes granted coveted jobs, such as seamstress, cook or nanny. They were even granted freedom as well as an education, despite the laws of educating slaves. This brought resentment from the uneducated field slaves and a superiority complex from the light-skinned slaves.

But why is this still relevant today?

Obviously from the Black American Studies class, there are signs of stereotypes being placed among our people. Many people today, young and old, still use terms like “African booty scratcher,” “bad hair” or “high yella.”

We were taught through media and textbooks that Africa is not a continent of positive image. The media highlights the AIDS epidemic, war and famine. Undoubtedly this does go on, but there are positives that are being overlooked. Therefore we as a people may resent our African features and don’t want to be associated with any facet of our homeland.

Our people are a mixture of Native Americans, French, English, Irish, African, etc. We have shared in the same identity from the seas of the Atlantic, to the segregation in the South, to the murders of our great leaders. So when we discredit each other over what we ultimately have no control over, we discredit our ancestors who have shed blood, sweat and tears, so that we may be where we are today and who we have yet to become.

Unity within you as an individual leads to unity of a people that may unite with the world with no insecurities or fears. But it can only begin with the reflection in the mirror.


Stand up and say something NOW appears every Monday. Tifair is a senior in advertising. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Egyptian.