Tyra Banks and Blackface

I've never been fond of (though I've not disliked) Tyra Banks. She seems to be the kind of person who tries to hit the mark, but ultimately misses it by a mile. Example: when she initially was talking about the "good-hair/bad-hair" debate, she was telling people to be proud of their African hair, while looking like Goldilocks. Later, she creates this hoopla that she's wearing her real hair, but she comes on stage with it straight. How permed straight hair is more significant than weave straight hair, I do not know; however, I dislike her new assumed role as ambassador to the white folk about black women's issues. She keeps saying, "If you are white, you may not understand that in the black community..." during if-you-do-not-know-you-don't-need-to-know situations. From watching her, one could gain the impression that black women have a neurosis. Even through this, Tyra Banks didn't get on my nerves too much. (I'm such a nice tolerant person you see.) However, she crossed the line with her blackface shot. People like her just make life worse for us in the world who try to stop racism and who want respect for minorities. When black people promote blackface, it sends a message that we see it as acceptable. Racist love to use people like her to justify racism, and man if Tyra didn't give them more firepower in their next argument. Well, it seems that since 2008, blackface has become fashionable, so Tyra had to take part.

  • October 2009 - Whitney Isleib
  • October 2009- Tyra
  • October 2009- Hey Hey It's Saturday
  • October 2009- Vogue
  • August 2009 - Mad Men
  • November 2008-Tropic Thunder
Who will be next, I wonder?

Black People Have No Pride 2: Assimilation

What were our goals after we gained our Civil Rights? It would have been great if we focused on being more independent and improving our communities, but instead I believe that many Blacks saw it as an open door not to be equal to whites, not just in rights. Whites are perceived to be at the top of the racial ladder. Therefore, by assimilating into white culture, we had the chance to have all of the power we had attributed to them thus far. Assimilation has been our goal since the Civil Rights Movement, and it still is.

High Opportunity Cost

The more you work to gain something, the less you can work to gain something else. You can not hope to assimilate into white culture, which doesn't even value those who are not white, and advance black culture simultaneously. However, Black people seem to be under the impression that we can have it both ways. I do not believe that Black people as a community can thrive under a white system because it was designed to oppress minorities and establish white power. That's why I don't understand why people are surprised when they hear about studies that concern racial profiling or unequal hiring practices. People act as if it should be a surprise when Black schools are underfunded. Black people believe a white culture will act in their best interest--that the more we assimilate the more this will become true. Considering the state of things today, this is definitely faulty reasoning. We should have worked on establishing independence after the Civil Rights Movement. To borrow the words of Malcolm X.

It only means that we should control the economy of our community. Why should white people be running all the stores in our community? Why should white people be running the banks of our community? Why should the economy of our community be in the hands of the white man? Why? If a black man can't move his store into a white community, you tell me why a white man should move his store into a black community. The philosophy of black nationalism involves a re-education program in the black community in regards to economics. Our people have to be made to see that any time you take your dollar out of your community and spend it in a community where you don't live, the community where you live will get poorer and poorer, and the community where you spend your money will get richer and richer.

Then you wonder why where you live is always a ghetto or a slum area. And where you and I are concerned, not only do we lose it when we spend it out of the community, but the white man has got all our stores in the community tied up; so that though we spend it in the community, at sundown the man who runs the store takes it over across town somewhere. He's got us in a vise.

So the economic philosophy of black nationalism means in every church, in every civic organization, in every fraternal order, it's time now for our people to be come conscious of the importance of controlling the economy of our community. If we own the stores, if we operate the businesses, if we try and establish some industry in our own community, then we're developing to the position where we are creating employment for our own kind. Once you gain control of the economy of your own community, then you don't have to picket and boycott and beg some cracker downtown for a job in his business.(Ballot or Bullet)

Black people still depend on white people for whether we have food on our tables or not. Whether or not Affirmative Action comes in for us or not shouldn't determine whether or not we have a job. We seem to have been under the impression, since the Civil Rights Movement, that we "came over hear on the Mayflower"--that now that we had equal protection under the law we are seen as equal to whites in this country's eyes. We tried to be a part of a white system, but didn't recognize that it would always put us at the bottom. Furthermore, not only did assimilation make us dependent on whites and put us at an economic disadvantaged, but adopting its values caused to have a low opinion of ourselves.

It is impossible to be assimilated into a society and not adopt is values. This is why we suffer so much from internalized racism, not just from the values of slavery but from trying so hard to be a part of white culture. We believe that dark skin is inferior to light skin and in "good hair" not only because of slavery, but because those are principles of white culture, and by assimilating into it we have adopted their method of thinking.

I believe that if we had established our own society after the Civil Rights Movement instead of working so hard into integrating into white society, we would have had stronger community both economically and mentally. Self-hatred would have been a distant memory.

Black People Have No Pride: Introduction

People often ask why did all of the progress stop after the 70s? Why did we lose our pride then? How did all of these problems suddenly crop up? It's amazing how Blacks did a 360 from being pro-Black to being what we are today, in such a short period of time. It's not just that we stopped being pro-Black. We lost any and all self-respect that we had.

Is there any other race that belittles itself to the extreme that we do? I don't see white people running around and calling themselves honkies and crackers. Asians don't call themselves chinks. Black people are the only people who use terms that were meant to dehumanize us as if they were badges of honor, or worse, we use them to disparage other black people. We have no problem degrading black women. When Malcolm X said in the 60's that "The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman, the most unprotected person in America is the Black woman, the most neglected person in America is the Black woman." I wonder if he would have thought the Black people would be perpetrators of this in 09'.

Furthermore, we've just stopped caring when people disrespect us. Starting since 2008 with Tropic Thunder, blackface has seen a revival, and this time Black people are laughing right along with the white. We think that our portrayal in Transformers is acceptable. When we laugh at "comedy" such as the Cleveland's and the Madea movies that make a mockery out of black ignorance, the joke is ultimately on us.

I believe that these and the majority of problems in Black America stem from an overall lack of respect for ourselves--it's beyond self-hatred. I don't even think this problem came so much from slavery, but from assimilation into white culture and from adopting white values. I'll be examining this in my next post, but for now, let me know what you think. What was the biggest cause of our overall lack of self-respect?

Black women need to be more independent

I know the above statement may seem to be overkill. Black women are stereotyped to be too independent. However, I do not believe this is true, and if it is, it is certainly not a bad thing.

Black women are way too hung up on what everyone thinks about us, and we should complain less about being undermined by society and the media. This is America. Don't expect it to hold you above the light-skinned girl above you. However, many black women act under the assumption that America will come around, and the black women will be glorified along with white. The problem is you can not live by wishful thinking or by your opinion of what America should be or what America should do. Stop expecting America to give black women justice.

Those who make such assumptions allow their self-concept to be defined by whether society gives them its stamp of approval or not. It then negatively affects their self-esteem when black women are persecuted because they take it personally. One thing black people fail to understand is that as long as aspects of your life rely on the majority's acceptance, you are still under their control. Black women should follow the John's advice of "being in the world [or America in this case] but not of it." We should not allow America's injustices to affect us to the point so that we conform to it.

Black women are at the bottom of the barrel in every aspect of American culture. Therefore, it is impractical to remain a part of such a system. I often hear black girls complain that white guys don't like them as they like white girls (not as if these black girls should be worried about getting white approval anyway), but they fail to realize that they are operating in a system that was designed to uplift the white woman and demean the black woman. That's why you are still not appreciated in the media, even though you straighten your hair, bleach your skin, or wear color contacts. The black woman will never be appreciated the way that the white woman is, so stop trying to be. Don't try to be the way that she is and find your own path. We need to find non-conventional goals that works for us. Think of it this way, when lab rats realize that there isn't cheese in a certain part of the maze, do they continue to return to it? They try to find cheese in a different location. Black women keep returning to an empty slot hoping that "cheese" is there, when we need to find fulfillment in places the that we aren't now.

In addition, black women should stop worrying so much about what men think and getting married, especially since black women aren't in demand by men anyway , it is wasted effort. I'm not saying that black women should give up on men or love. I'm just saying that this IR movement among black women is misplaced effort. Date, absolutely, but dating shouldn't be our main goal, and neither should be being accepted. We need to learn skills that enable us not to only survive but to thrive in a racist society. An example of this how the Koreans took over the black hair market. That was a great opportunity to add more power to our community by creating a market that made by black people and target to black people. Instead, our desire to conform to white standards was exploited and a $9 billion dollar industry is going to people who could care less about us. Imagine if we took all of that money that we spend to conform and used it to empower ourselves.

Focus on ending things that matter like black ignorance. Stop worrying about men and dating. Stop worrying about the stand of beauty. Most importantly get out of the Eurocentric mode of thinking because you will always be at the bottom rung of its social ladder if you operate under it.

Why Hair Matters

This is partly a response to AJR's post where she says how she's sick about the politics of Black hair, and that hair shouldn't matter. I disagree.

Now first of let me say that I don't think it's a sin to press hair or to wear a weave. I don't think that there is anything wrong with changing it up hear and there. However, I do not think that it is "healthy" for Blacks to chemically alter our hair or to always hide it with a weave.

The first thing many women will say to defend their non-natural state is that white women perm, press, curl, and weave up to. However, they fail to recognize that that we are not white. Black women and white women are not in the same situations, are not viewed the same way, and are not held to the same standard, so white women can not possibly be used to justify black hair choices. White women have been romanticized as Cleopatras and Aphrodities for ages. Black women have been forced to be Aunt Jemima's through the years. As a result, white women's hair choices don't impact them the way that black women's do. Most white women don't pretend to have an afro through childhood, and when I see pictures of whites trying to look silly, I see them wearing afro wigs, not long flowing blond hair. Black hair has a stigma. What percentage of black women do you think would walk down the street with an afro?

Anytime that someone puts significant time, effort, and money to change something, it matters. Anytime a portion of a population alters itself to look like the majority, it matters.
If you would never wear your hair in its natural state, hair matters to you.

Hair is not irrelevant because it is a reflection of culture and therefore a reflection of self. What do you think when you see a woman walking down the street in a sari ? You know she has Indian heritage, and any other perceptions you have about her are subject to your possible prejudices about Indians. Likewise, when many people see women in scarfs or burqas, they assume that they are oppressed or think little of themselves. What do people think when they see a woman in an afro. People frequently say that she looks uneducated, unprofessional, or something similar. This is because they recognize an afro as being a Black feature and since one has Black features she must also carry the negative attributes of Blacks.

We're all aware that Black characteristics carry strong negative connotations around the world. Therefore, the more "Black" one looks, the more these negative undertones will be attributed to that person. This is why people bleach their skin. This is why people straighten their hair. We do not choose our hair styles at random because they matter. We not only pick the styles we like based on our own preferences, but the preferences of others. People naturally want to be accepted by other's, and if that means changing themselves to look more white, they will do so. It's important to know why we make our decisions. Every choice we make is relevant because it is based on something learned. This includes hair styles.

Chris Rock Is Not in Black Women's Best Interest

My perception of people is generally negative, positive, or neutral. Chris Rock was in neutral status, until he produced Good Hair. When I saw the trailer, I was extremely disappointed. It didn't address the politics of Black hair. On the contrary, Chris Rock decided to use the emotional confusion that Black women experience with our hair and capitalize on it. I have been intensely following this Good Hair since it was announced, and I have come to the conclusion that Chris Rock does not respect black women nor is he trying to help black people with this film. He's just as caught up in the concept of good hair as all of us, and has no intention of tearing down Blacks' mental chains. This movie has no other purpose than to entertain whites.

Chris Rock Does Not Respect Black Women
I'll start this from a quote from the man himself:
Barack Obama has a black wife. And I don't think a black woman can be first lady of the United States. Barack has a handicap the other candidates don't have: Barack Obama has a black wife. And I don't think a black woman can be first lady of the United States. Yeah, I said it! A black woman can be president, no problem. First lady? Can't do it. You know why? Because a black woman cannot play the background of a relationship. Just imagine telling your black wife that you'e president? "Honey, I did it! I won! I'm the president." "No, we the president! And I want my girlfriends in the Cabinet! I want Kiki to be secretary of state! She can fight!"
The comment pretty much speaks for itself. Here, Rock is making his sister, a woman who has more education than he will ever have, sound ignorant simply because she is a Black woman. Brava, Chris Rock.

Apparently, black women are stupid and self-absorbed, which is funny. So it makes sense to make a movie out of that. So hear we have a movie mocking black women spending so much time, effort, and money making our hair texture look like someone else's. We're even buying someone else's hair and installing it into our own, and it's...hilarious? Really? According to Chris Rock, this is all a joke. He doesn't address that a whole race of women wouldn't do this for so many decades for no reason. He does not discuss the "why." He does not about talk where this mentality comes from. (He avoids this topic completely because he doesn't want to make his white audience upset but rather amuse them.) There is obviously something seriously wrong if a whole race of people are ashamed of their hair texture. The A.V. Club made great points:

The film is filled with sadly telling moments, like a black beauty student telling Rock that she'd have a hard time taking a job applicant seriously if he had an afro, yet its tone is one of amusement rather than indignation. Rock is an entertainer, not a polemicist, and Good Hair will never be mistaken for a college course in African American Hair And Racial Identity, though it does stress the pain women will endure and the exorbitant prices they'll pay to keep up with follicular trends. To the film's subjects, paying thousands for a complicated, high-maintenance weave is less a luxury than a necessity, even for those low on the socio-economic scale.

In order for Chris Rock to make a movie mocking Black women's insecurities this way, he must have little respect for us. In addition, in order for him to think that it's hilarious that Blacks believe that wearing our natural hair is so unacceptable that we must change it, shows me that he has little respect for his own people. I started to realize this even more after he was on the Oprah show. He could not get his fingers out of her hair, and was practically worshiping it on stage. He then said that Stedman was a lucky man. To make matters worse, he calls Oprah's natural hair "slave hair." And he wonders why his daughter was crying? Give me a break! I remember seeing him have a similar reaction when having an interview with a white woman. He didn't touch her hair, but he stated how he would love to run his hands through it and was practically drooling. Chris Rock believes in "Good Hair" as much as any other Black person.

I also hate how he avoids the real issue behind this "good hair" sentiment among Blacks, and maintains this "It doesn't matter what hair style you have, as long as you like it " stance. If that is true, what was the point of laughing at all of these women for perming and weaving in this movie? The only thing that he did was state the obvious. Black people know what we do to our hair. This was only an eye-opener for the whites, and it was for their entertainment. Of course, they thought it was hilarious how all of these Negroes are changing themselves to look like them. That's was the point of this film, to amuse the white man at the black woman's expense.

I may be irrational, but this just ticked me off

When I found out that a white woman was just named Miss Hampton University, I was ticked. I hate that a white women are held above black women, even in a black University. In every area in life, black women are told that we are inadequate. In other beauty pageants, we see a sea of white faces. When we turn on the TV, we she extremely light skinned, Hispanic, or even white women portraying black women (unless of course it is a ghetto black woman). Even in black dominated rap and hip hop, Hispanic and light-skin are taking black places. This is why it is disheartening that even in a predominately black beauty pageant, sisters don't have a chance to shine. Is there one place where black women are safe from white privilege and can be appreciated?

Even though Europeans are the standard of beauty, I'm usually not annoyed by this. However, I believe that there is a breaking point to everything. I can see sisters around me, desperately looking for validation because they recognize that, as black women, they are outcast in society. Black girls as young as 4 or 5 are picking up on this, and it is affecting their self-image. (Sisters, I think we all can remember playing with a towel, and pretending it was our hair as young children. It's even worse for girls growing up in '09.) This is why this story concerns me.

Really Alienated Conclusions has a good discussion about this. Be sure to check it out. You won't regret it. http://nerdsevolving.blogspot.com/2009/08/what-black-women-were-white-women.html
The other day a white woman that I know was complaining that she was called racist because she said "black people speak their own language." She was referring to ebonics of course. Now this woman is an English teacher, and if most of her white students spoke the "language" that blacks illegibly do, she would call it bad grammar and correct them. Then, why is it acceptable for blacks to speak this way. (This reminds me of that scene in Roots where the blonde-haired person asks her father why don't they teach blacks to read. If you remember this scene, you know what I'm talking about.)

I'm sure many of my brothers and sisters out there when they have been bestowed the honor of being told that they are "articulate" or that they "speak so well" as if just because I'm black, I shouldn't be able to put a sentence together. However, I'm not...really bothered by these ignorant people stereotyping me. I'm more concerned by the Pygmalion effect of it. When you live in a society where most of the members expect you to be uneducated, how does it influence your life? How does a child develop in a world where most of the people think that being ignorant is proper and right for him? Once one thinks of it this way, these passing remarks become much more serious because people generally fulfill the expectations that others have of them.

But back to the original question. Why is black ignorance acceptable? When we hear about failing white schools, everyone gets in an uproar, but when this happens to black schools, no one cares because it is to be expected. Black schools barely get any funding because putting any effort in them is seen as a waste. Of course, it is unacceptable to treat white schools with this same apathy. People have no problem treating blacks this way because they want blacks to be uneducated. The United States feels threaten by educated blacks, which is why they propagate the idea that blacks are supposed to be ignorant. They will do everything in their power to ensure that blacks stay this way.

However, the ultimate question is how can we change this?

First, I think blacks need to invest much more in their children than they do now. Sending away a child to a public school may be fine for a white person, but it frankly isn't good enough for a black person today. Black people have to work twice as hard for half of what white people get, which is why the school that children are sent to must be chosen very carefully. I believe that children should be sent to private schools or be home-schooled. Making sacrifices to ensure that your child receives a proper education is worth the effort.

Columbus Day and White Supremecy

Imagine that someone breaks in your house, kills you, and puts your family in slavery. He then proclaims that he "discovered" your house and takes ownership of it as if you were never there in the first place. The city awards the killer, and proclaims the day he killed and stole from you a holiday.

This is why I don't understand Columbus day.

Why is it alright to celebrate the someone who opened the door for genocide and slavery of the Native Americans and Africans? This is morally justifiable only if these groups aren't really "people." In reality, they are not respected as people in American culture. Americans develop this perspective when they first go to school. They are taught that Columbus "discovered" America, even with the logical fallacy that no one can discover a place where someone else lives. By not acknowledging the the Native Americans in this way, children learn that the NA's are lesser than white Columbus. In addition, by not discussing the atrocities of Columbus and the consequences of this "discovery," we reduce the Native Americans' injustice to being as insignificant. It's not worth even addressing after all.

We can see the affects of this demeaning of Native Americans in popular culture. In TV and books, Native Americans are portrayed as ignorant savages who want to tear down the marvelous civilization that the whites have built on their land. However, we fail to address the NA's rich civilization--well, the rich civilization that was there since it was almost destroyed. We are just taught that the white's culture is superior. Therefore, the destruction of the NA's way of life is justifiable. To further illustrate America's respect for NA's, we see how whites use NA's as mascots for their football games and dress up as them
in minstrel fashion in order to show their reverence for their culture. We then learn that NA's are no better than a eagle, a bear, or any other animal since they can be used as a mascot.

How can we fix this? Should we end Columbus day? I propose that this holiday should be replaced with one that celebrates Native American culture and serves as a memorial to those who suffered from atrocities because of Columbus and those who followed after him.

In addition, minorities would be respected in America if we addressed their cultures and achievements in schools, instead of giving history from a white or biased perspective.