In Living Color

The 20s are all about speaking up and speaking out about the things that matter most to you. One thing I cannot stand is when people think their cause is the single most important ordeal facing the world (case in point environmentalism - call me when all that Day After Tomorrow stuff does  down). It's disrespectful, unnecessary and just plain rude to insinuate (whether knowingly or unwittingly) that what you're standing up for is more dire or pressing than anyone else's ideals (aka every group at my school). It's okay to be passionate but when passion puts down someone else's zeal, that's when we have a problem. Get ready for a week of super serious posts - it's that time of the summer again. I'm back, loud, proud, and in living color. 

*Let me preclude this post by emphasizing how personal, explicit, and downright painful most of these experiences are to remember let alone write about. It's all about self awareness, look to criticize within before you go placing the blame on everyone else ... seriously. 
Yesterday I watched this powerful documentary on OWN entitled "Dark Girls" and I took me straight back to so many times where the color of my skin came to be the topic of discussion. Ever since I was little I have never thought I was any sort of good looking. There's people who always get complimented for how hot, sexy, handsome, even cute they are but never me. Never once (until I started college) had I ever been hit on, let alone had anyone show interest in me. Picture taking has always been a touchy subject for me. I get the "I can't see you" - "You're too dark" - "You're black as night" comments way too often. If you've ever been called ugly, that's one of those things that stays with you forever. The fact that someone thinks your disgusting, hideous, and aesthetically repugnant is enough to destroy your self esteem. Your eyes are too squinty, your teeth are too big, your hair is a nappy ass mess, your lips are too big, your nose is too wide and above all your skin is too dark. Everything about me is gross, embarrassing and unsightly, that's what's being implied. You don't like the way I look. That's what you're getting at when you make a small comment (aka a microaggression) that, "You look like a Somalian refugee." Those kinds of things tear a person apart, stunts their growth morale-wise and makes them recluse into themselves. "Don't wear this it's too white for you, when you wear that you look ghetto," and it goes on and on. In all my years I became more and more ashamed and opposed to being referred to as black. I prefer African-American, it separates me from darkness, as in seclusion, othering, and inherent ugliness. Black is ugly, scary, weird, foreign, and unwanted. When the people around you and society in general make you feel unwanted, unloved and unattractive it's what you believe. I can honestly say it wasn't until my 19th year that I ever felt any type of charming, cute and downright smoldering. One day I just looked in the mirror and realized that I was no longer the boy to be overlooked and under-appreciated but now I was the looker, the subtly cute wild card in the deck. I'm desirable, a worthy contender and able to play the game. I love the way I look, it's fuller (my lip bite will make your heart quake), distinct (with like British overtones) and uniquely me. Never would I ever, nor should anyone call someone ugly. It strips their humanity, eats away at their soul and makes them feel like less than a person. Let's go, in living color. 
One of the biggest things that comes up in conversation for me when it comes to race is personal preference. Let me tell you that it's not okay to make blanket statements that like, "I would never date a black guy." First and foremost, why is that? You don't find us attractive? Oh really, you need to separate your ideas about one or a few individuals (that you may or not have actually interacted with) from an entire group. Secondly, the society we've been raised in has exploited people of color. Black people are this exotic, feitishized conquest that people experiment with. We're overly sexualized play things or not good enough to be seen with in the light of day (as in the remnants of slave owner mentality). Either that or the complete opposite where people are afraid to even talk to a black person let alone kiss one, or touch one. My skin is not a disease and it's not transferable. Where does that irrational fear, apprehension and sometimes complete disdain come from? How about the media and society. On the nightly news what stories are over-reported, black people blasting one another away (BTW, one of the main reasons - not the only reason mind you - is the vicious cycle of poverty, lack of housing and inaccessibility to education constructed by white America in the 1930s onwards), horrific mug shots, stereotypical servant characters, criminal aggressors or sultry affair-mates all plague the TV screens. Black people are portrayed poorly by the mass media - whether true to actuality or not. Check your "preference" because I'll bet it's actually disguised racism. Yup, I went there. Don't shrink and runaway, question what you've learned. What about black people is unattractive? Attitude on individual (key word there; generalization is a typical action, apparently we're all the same and representative of our entire race) is one thing, physical aesthetics are another. We've got it all, just like any other race (generally full lips, curves, beautiful hair) and yet we're this taboo secret. Really analyze where your "preferences" come from. There's a difference between like a certain kind of person and making wayside comments like "He's cute for a black guy" (as if we're in this totally other dating pool). We're not here to pollute your gene pools. Beauty ideals are a construct decided on by white America. It's sad that people literally try and lighten or whiten their skin with damaging, cancer causing products not only in the US but all around the world. The majority of the world doesn't look like Henry Cavill, Emma Watson, or Chris Evans. We come in different shapes, sizes and shades - love us or hate us, we still exist. Live in living color. 
tika SumpterGabbyPaula Patton for Che Belgium magazine
The 20s are all about speaking your personal truths into the world. Speak things into reality and let them come true. Staying quiet does not except internalize your pain and deprive the world from being forced to take a good look at itself. Reflect, look within and determine what role you play in the world of injustice, oppression and exclusion. It goes down in living color. 
My blog post question for the day is ... what role do you think society has in forming your opinions on what/who to be attracted to? Oh, it plays a big role - as with most of our learned attitudes. 


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