Using Interracial Dating as a Weapon

As people don't seem to read my post, but are making assumptions, here's a note so I don't have to say this over and over. This post is about African-Americans, not just AA women (2) this is not an anti-IR post. (3) This is directed at those who IR date because they have problems with AA (wo)men.
A picture says a thousand words

I just heard of this book by CW today. The cover pretty much sums up the depths of self-hated to which we have sunken. It's no secret that there is a gender war of sorts in the African-American community. Scores of us are verbally destroying our Brothers and Sisters in order to justify why we want to date anyone who isn't of our race. However, people who do this fail to realize that no matter how much they deride African-American (wo)men, they are pretty much shooting blanks as far as their argument is concerned. Here's why:

1. Let's just be honest. You just see European as better.
What all of these arguments come down to is a denial of racial bias. Rather acknowledging that they simply have a bias to Europeans, they put the blame on all of those of the opposite sex, saying that their in inadequacies forced them to find a mate outside their race. But anyone who is not in denial can see straight through this. We were all raised in this Euro-centric culture, so we know how you think. We were all trained to judged things by how white they are and only stop doing this when we recognize our behavior and work to correct it. But until we do, we chase after what closely matches the standard. I mean really, why choose an African-American, who doesn't come close to meeting the European Standard, when you can get the genuine item? Those who do this do not want to recognize their behavior, so in order to cover up their biases, they say that the other gender is responsible for their malicious feelings.

2. We come from the same origin.
I never understood how someone could rant about how terrible all African-American (wo)men were when we are raised in the same environments. It is not as if African-American women and men were born and raised on different planets. We grew up together in the same communities and cultures, so the bad soil that turned one of us rotten must have done the same to the other. Therefore, you can't act like the other gender is evil but yours is an innocent angel from heaven.

3. What Makes You Think the EA's Want You?
When you have so many problems with African-Americans, what makes you think that European-Americans wouldn't as well? If you don't respect African Americans, don't expect European-Americans to either.

4. Who made European-Americans demigods?
How can one find so many faults with African-Americans, but none with European-Americans at all? These African-American (wo)men bashers act as if choosing a EA for a mate will give them a flawless relationship straight out of a Disney movie and make their life complete. Their elevation of EA's to god-like perfection just illustrates their poor view of AA's. Secondly, since they love to talk about how superior EAs are a choice for mates, one must wonder what they do when talks about racism roll around. After all, it appears that EA's have more interest in AA's welfare than we do ourselves. They really have nothing to complain about.

What's truly ironic about this picture
Each time I hear someone insinuate that European-American men are better, such as in the cover of this book, the irony just sickens me. The author of this book says, "Black men are continuously being taught to disrespect, dishonor, and disregard the Black woman. The ugly, heartbreaking results manifest themselves with the 'baby mama' epidemic, video vixen mentality, enabling, denial, and other self-defeating behaviors." I agree with that statement, but what makes her think that EA men don't do the same? If your own people don't value you, why would you think that others do? In addition, who do does she think taught AA men to treat us this way? Who does she think taught us that EA women were valuable and worth protecting and reduced AA women to worthless objects? Who perpetuated, and continues to do so, this unbalanced image of EA and AA women in the media:

Choose your loyalties wisely.

As far as AA women bashing goes, it is shameful that men would turn their back on the only ones who stuck by them after 400 years of going through pure hell. How can anyone say such nasty things about AA women when their own sister and even their own mother is one. It reminded of a passage from the Adi Granth that criticizes this behavior well if you put it into the context of AA women:

We are born of woman,
we are conceived in the womb of woman,
we are engaged and married to woman.
We make friendship with woman
and the linage continued because of woman...
we are bound with the world though woman.
We grow up stronger and wiser having drunk milk from the breast of woman.
Why should we talk ill of her,
who gives birth to Kings?
The woman is born from woman;
there is none without her.
Only the One True Lord is without woman.

Black and White: The Bias Ingrained in our Language

I was reading a book a couple of months ago that mentioned the biases in English. It pointed out how although most words relating to humanity are masculine (mankind for example), the vast majority of those words that are negative are attributed to females. Obviously, the biases in our language are impressed upon our psyche as well, as women are judged more harshly than men in society. The book didn't mention English's bias regarding race, but of course, one has to take this in account as well. Calling Europeans "white" and calling Africans "black" for a life time must lead one to associate the races with the attributes that the words carry respectively. With this in mind, I will post the definition of each (from M-W).

White: free from spot or blemish: free from moral impurity : innocent: not intended to cause harm: : favorable, fortunate: marked by upright fairness: of, relating to, characteristic of, or consisting of white people or their culture from the former stereotypical association of good character with northern European descent (I find it a bit curious how it says "former." They are still associated with good because of this.)

Black: dirty, soiled; thoroughly sinister or evil : wicked: indicative of condemnation or discredit; connected with or invoking the supernatural and especially the devil; characterized by hostility or angry discontent: of or relating to the African-American people or their culture

I refuse to believe that the words we use to describe good and evil everyday has no affect when we use those same words to identify ourselves. I'm not outright condemning the usages of the words black and white entirely, but I'm giving you something to think about. Honestly, however, I look foward to the day when such biased language is not used to describe races.
I did an earlier post complaining about how the Conservatives had been crying that we need to start racially profiling people because of how the Muslims are all out to get us. But now today we have a white man smashing his plane into a Federal building because of his anger with the government. If his name were Abdul, we would have an uproar right now. Glenn Beck, Palin, and their minions would be waving this triumphantly as another example of why we need to stop being so "politically correct" and start racially profiling people to keep those scary dark sinned people at bay. However, since he has an "American name" (Beck should be happy about that), let's see what sort of reaction from them we get. Of course, so far he hasn't been labeled a terrorist. Apparently, if you are white and crash a plane into a building, you only want to commit suicide, but if you are Arab/Black and want to do the same, you are a terrorist. Well, since we have this rule, the Conservatives won't have to address yet another example of the fallacy of their reasoning. I know you may think this is unfair, but, you see, if we used this (and similar incidences) to prove that racially profiling is wrong, we would have to admit members of the white race can be terrorist just as minorities can be. And we just couldn't do that because then we be denying the principles that the Western society was founded on--that Europeans are superior to all other groups. Rejecting this fundamental value of our society would eliminate white privilege and might even help to bring equality to our land. That's why the actions of Joseph Andrew Stack could never be labeled an attack. If we started to acknowledge things like this, Western civilization could fall apart.

Another observation from this incident: Interesting how the Tea Partiers and their friends are so against the terrorist when they have so much in common: their disgruntlement with the American government, their extreme religious beliefs, and reverence of their martyrs (as the several Facebook and webpages that cropped up directly after Joseph Andrew Stack's attack suicide). You know, if they weren't so rabid, they might just hit it off.

Why Stereotypes Are Unbreakable

I'm bothered when European-Americans say or imply that the treatment that African-Americans receive is a direct cause of us behaving in stereotypical ways or, in other words, more often that not we live our lives in harmony with a stereotypical script. As a result, many African-Americans fervently hope that if one day we can stop all of us from behaving in a stereotypical way, we will have a better image. I wish for the day when all African-Americans will stop behaving stereotypically as well, but not for the hope that they will be eliminated completely because they never will. African-Americans will always be stereotyped as inferior in every aspect to European-Americans because this has been ingrained even before this country was founded and now is in the fabric of our culture. Successful African-Americans are thought of as being propserous in spite of their Blackness. They are an exception, an example of the positive outcomes of assimilation, or simply they "act white." In short, the more respectable or admirable an African-American is, the more white he or she will be perceived; and the more negative characteristics an African-American has, the more black he or she will be judged. A perfect article that illustrates how "Black" we are perceived based more on our actions rather than our skin color was released on Newsweek about how those who support Obama see him as lighter skinned, and those who view him negatively see him darker:

When it comes to the policies and politics of Barack Obama, it's no secret that liberals and conservatives don't see eye to eye. But according to behavioral sciencist Eugene Caruso of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, these differences in perspective may literally be a difference in perception. In a new study, Caruso and colleagues Emily Balcetis of New York University and Nicole Mead of Tillberg University asked a group of undergraduates which of a series of photographs of both Obama--some of them secretly lightened and darkened--best represented who he is as a person. The results were striking: while self-described liberals tended to pick the digitally lightened photos of the president, self-described conservative students more frequently picked the darkened images. The more you agree with a politician, in other words, the lighter his skin tone seems; the less you agree, the darker it becomes. To discuss how political affinities influence perception--and how politicians and the press could take advantage of these findings--NEWSWEEK's Andrew Romano spoke to Caruso. Excerpts:

How did the study actually work?
Essentially we were interested in whether political party influences how people literally see the world, and how they may see different depictions of candidates as representative of who they really are. So to test this we gathered up a bunch of photos of Barack Obama and digitally altered them to create a version where his skin tone appeared a bit lighter and a version where his skin tone was a bit darker than it appeared in the original photograph. And then we just showed people several different photos and asked them to rate each one on how much they represented who he really is. What we found was that participants who told us that they had a liberal political orientation rated the lightened photographs as more representative of Obama than the darkened photographs, whereas participants who told us they had a more conservative ideology rated the darkened photographs as more representative of Obama than the lightened ones.

So how much of a difference between self-identified liberals and self-identified conservatives did you find in the results?
It’s a little bit hard to quantify the difference because they were just rating on a 7-point scale of representativeness. So to make it a bit more concrete we looked, for each participant, at which photo they rated as the most representative. They gave us three different ratings—say 1, 4 and 6—and we picked the photo that they gave the highest number to. From there we saw that liberals were about five times as likely to rate a lightened version of Obama as the most representative compared to a darkened version, whereas conservatives were about twice as likely to rate a darkened version as most representative compared to the lightened version.

I’m no expert here, but you’re confident that it’s the skin tone that changes “representativeness” in the eyes of the voter, as opposed to something else about the photographs—like pose, or background, or facial expression?
That’s a great question. What we did was essentially take three different photos with three different poses, and created for each photo a lightened and a darkened version. And then we randomly selected the combination of pose and skin tone that we showed each participant.

So your findings about “representativeness” were consistent across poses—the conservative will be twice as likely to say a “darkened” Obama was representative, regardless of which image of Obama was being darkened?
Right. We were experimentally able to isolate the effect of skin tone because some people saw a lightened version of pose #1 and others saw a darkened version of pose #1—and independent of the pose the lightened versions seemed most representative to liberals and the darkened most representative to conservatives.

Were you surprised by the results?
A little bit. Some of my research deals with how people who have different views on a subject are able to try to understand the views of someone on the other side, and the general finding is that people aren’t particularly good at really coming to understand the perspective of someone with whom they disagree. Beyond that, though, I got interested in this notion of whether our beliefs can actually affect the way we see the world—of whether they can actually affect our perception of objects or people in our environment. And it turns out they can.

Ultimately, what does it mean that someone believes a lightened version of Obama is more representative of him than a darkened version, and vice versa? What are the larger implications of these differences in perception?
Partisanship can affect all sorts of beliefs. It’s not surprising that a liberal and a conservative who read the same health care bill would come to very different conclusions about its merits. But I think our work is more akin to having a liberal and conservative look at the exact same physical copy of a bill sitting on the desk in front of them and disagreeing over how thick it is. That is, even something that we feel we should be able to see similarly, like a person’s racial identity or physical characteristics, can be influenced by our desire to see that person favorably or unfavorably.

That’s fascinating. To extend that analogy, I guess you’d say that when a conservative looks at the current health care reform bill on the table, he sees it as really thick and interprets that thickness as meaning that the bill will create more red tape, more bureaucracy, more spending, whereas a liberal would see it as thinner and interpret that thinness as meaning that the bill will streamline an unwieldy system and reduce deficits over time. In other words, they’re seeing a physical attribute as a kind metaphor about the merits of whatever it is they’re looking at. How does that work with Obama and skin tone?
There’s a long history in Western society of associating lightness with good and darkness with bad. Throughout history, throughout literature, et cetera. And we know now that these associations sometimes apply to the color of a person’s skin, and in addition to associating goodness with white, there’s some recent research in implicit attitudes suggesting that at an unconscious level people have a strong tendency to associate America with white. Which means that liberals, who are going to think that Obama is generally good and generally American, may have these subtle associations linking him to the concept of white, which is reflected in their representativeness ratings. The opposite would be true of conservatives.

But isn’t there a chicken or egg relationship here? Do conservatives see Obama as darker and are thus prone to dislike him, or do they dislike him first and then see him as darker because of it?
That’s a great question. One of the things we’re trying to do now is experimentally try to tease those two options apart. Basically, what we have in our current paper, the one that’s out now, is correlational studies of Obama where we don’t really know what comes first or what’s causing what. The first study in the paper tries to address part of what you’re asking. If we get people to think about a novel candidate and simply manipulate whether they agree with a candidate or not, we can show that people who think this novel biracial candidate agrees with them later report that the lightened photos are more representative of him, suggesting that if you agree with someone then you may come to see him as lighter. From that we can speculate, exactly as you have, about the reverse path—and that is, seeing images of someone when his or her skin tone looks darker may cause people to like that person less than seeing images of that person with lighter skin tone.

Do you plan to study the second option?
We’ve actually just recently completed a new study that’s not in the current paper that looks at this question. We had people read about this new biracial candidate in the Department of Education, and for some participants we had them read this candidate’s biography with an unaltered picture accompanying the biography, while for some participants we had them read the biography with a picture of the candidate that had been lightened or darkened. Then we had them tell us how they felt about the six issues facing the Department of Education, and everyone was told the same thing—which was that this guy agrees with you on three of the six issues on the table, so it’s unclear really whether you like him or not. Then we asked them to tell us how much they supported him and how likely they’d be to vote for him if given the chance. And somewhat remarkably, the participants who’d seen a darkened photo just a few minutes earlier reported that they were less likely to vote for the candidate than those who’d seen the lightened photo.

Could you imagine political campaigns using this sort of research in the future—you know, as more minorities run for office?
I think our findings help explain the ways in which people may try to influence the level of support for, say, a biracial candidate. People have and may continue to strategically expose the public to images that alter certain characteristics of a person in the media spotlight. It reminds us of the Time magazine cover where an illustration had darkened an image of OJ Simpson following his arrest in 1994. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was actually accused of doing the exact same thing in the primary when it ran a television ad with a video of Obama during one of the debates in which the entire ad was artificially darkened. Although we didn’t find any direct evidence of this in our data, it’s possible that news directors may be susceptible to same sort of biases as our participants, without even really being aware of it, such that liberal and conservative media outlets may differ in the types of images of Obama that they tend to select and depict.

Which, in turn, could activate or reinforce whatever biases are already out there among voters as they see the candidates through the media filter—for example, an MSNBC viewer who is continually exposed to “lighter” images of Obama and who therefore tends to think of him as more “good” and more “American.”
I wouldn’t advocate that people strategically try to manipulate things, but certainly political campaigns and ideologically-driven media outlets will always try to show their candidates in the best possible light.

So to speak.
Right. It’s the same as scrutinizing haircuts and clothing to make people as appealing as possible to the voters. With the Clinton ad, the goal was to try to make Obama appear more ominous.

Madame C. J. Walker Passed Us the Ball. We Dropped It.

"I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations. I have built my own factory on my own ground." Madame CJ Walker

During this month as we recognize African-Americans' achievements, no doubt Madame C. J. Walker will be a prominent figure, as she indeed should be. She was born of former slaves and was orphaned at an early age. Yet despite her impoverished background, she founded her own company and became the first female to become a millionaire because of her own achievements.

Now, I suppose that if you lived in the days Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company was founded, the future of industry for Black America would seem exceptionally bright. After all, an innovative African-American lady has already taken steps to establishing the hair care industry for us and has become a millionaire. With additional work, we could have a thriving economy. If you fast-forward to 2010, however, you can see that this magnificent dream was shattered because unfortunately, although Blacks didn't realize that big money was to be made in our hair care industry, others did. The Koreans and other ethnicities took over the Black hair care industry and helped turn it into the $9 billion dollar giant that it is today--money that could be used to reduce our poverty and further our own community. What makes this even more disturbing is that Madam C.J. Walker was able to achieve such success even though she was born in poverty and had to confront the enormous set backs of being both African-American and a woman (she even died before women had the right to vote for goodness sake). With all of the opportunities we have today, there is no excuse for us allowing others to takeover our own industry. We control where the money goes, and we are responsible for whether or helps us or lines another's pocket.

Madam C.J. Walker innovation is inspirational but it should certainly not ended. We must follow her example and control our own economies.

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'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. -- Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet. Read here or listen below

Black Owned Manufactures and Non-Black Owned Manufactures

Natural Hair: My Road to Acceptance

I have made a couple of post about African-American women and our hair issues, but I have yet to share my own journey regarding how I have come to feel the way I do about my hair. My relationship with my hair has taught me many valuable lessons but one that I shall share here is: do not fit a square peg into a round hole.

When I Hated my Hair
My hair has never been permed or straightened at any point in my life, so during my childhood I always felt that my natural hair, in its pigtails, was a curse. The highest point in my elementary school career, during the third grade, was when I got braids for the first time. I was so proud that my hair could swig like "it should." However, my elation didn't last. My hair wasn't long enough. I knew that I couldn't get a relaxer because I had been told that they fry hair to death, and I definitely didn't want to look like the scores of girls I'd seen with relaxers so bad that it looked like their hair had been set on fire. The only option left for me was to get long braid extensions. Those were great to me. I had the long flowing hair without the pain of a relaxer. But they didn't appeal to me completely because I knew they were not equal to the Standard. So when I got older I was determined to get a weave (although I had no idea how weaves actually worked). I thought my natural hair was too long to wear a weave and wanted to cut it short. My mom thought I was crazy, but my reasoning was if you never wear natural hair out what is the use of it anyway? Besides that, I felt painfully embarrassed by hair. I could not go outside with it loose without my head being covered with a scarf or a hooded jacket. The only time I thought you were supposed to see it was when it was being "done" between extensions. (Looking back I think it is so sad that I thought that Black hair was so worthless that I was willing to cut it.) But back to the point, the extensions I had at this time looked too natural (everyone thought I had really long dreadlocks). Subconsciously, I knew I wasn't close enough to the Standard so I took the final step that would bring me closer to perfection. I got a sew-in, which was an ego boost for me (everyone would fawn over "my" hair). I finally had the hair that I'd ask God to miraculously change in elementary school. At the time, I did not make any connection between my relationship with my hair and any biases or prejudices I had against African features. If I heard anyone questioning why African-American women perm/press/weave our hair, I joined in with the scores of women saying it was because of convenience or citing that white women wear weaves too. However, even though my European-styled hair made me feel complete, I still felt uncomfortable. My mind was always on whether my tracks were showing and the like. Even though I felt pretty, I never felt right.

Turning Point
I realized that I was on a spiraling down on a path to no where when I heard a question by Malcolm X , "Who taught you to hate yourself?"

My initial reaction to this and of all of the others who had suggested that Black women who perm/press/weave had a problem was to reject the suggestion altogether. After all hair was just hair. White women style it however they want to, so why couldn't Black women? However, after examining the relationship I had with my hair I realized that it was never the case. From the moment that I became aware of its distinctiveness, I wanted to change it to something straighter or longer. If it was just hair, why did I try to hide it so much? In short, this question caused me to reexamine not only my views on my hair but society as a whole, but at this point, I will expound upon a single lesson that I gained from accepting my natural hair:

Black women as a group are like square pegs created in a society that is designed for round ones. We spend the majority of our lives chipping ourselves down, damaging ourselves mentally and physically, trying to make ourselves fit into a standard that wasn't set for us. I never was happy with my hair because I could was never equal to the Standard. I finally became content when I understood that my hair isn't supposed to look long and straight--that the rules for straight hair were completely different than those for mine. When I stopped seeing myself by how well I fit into European views, my eyes opened to how beautiful natural hair was. When I looked in the mirror, I stopped worrying "How can I get this straighter" or "How can I get my curls more defined." I realized that this is the way my coils are supposed to look and I will never be content if I try to make my it anything less than it is.

We cannot be truly happy or content with our lives until we come to the realization that there is a hole designed specifically for us to fit. When we chip ourselves down to fit the standard for someone else, we are only damaging ourselves.