Let’s Talk About Why Black Men Avoid Discussing The “C-Word”
Colorism is the disease without a cure
Back in January — Amara La Negra — star of Love & Hip Hop: Miami — accepted the invitation to appear on The Breakfast Club — where she was grilled about the controversial episode featuring the clueless music producer — who tried to convince the already accomplished artist from the Dominican Republic to downplay her Afrocentric tendencies in order to attract stardom in the States.
La Negra stood her ground when she was forced to defend her grooming choices on the show — and she brought that winning spirit when she was put in the unenviable position of having to once again — justify the reality of colorism — not just in the industry of her choice — but also within her community.
While speaking to the gang of the currently embattled radio show — the singer had a difficult time convincing Charlamagne tha God — ( who is usually annoyingly clueless about the most basic shit) — about the validity of her challenges as a darker skinned Afro-Latina. The entire visit was cringe-worthy and beyond excruciating — as La Negra exhaustively fielded silly questions and even sillier comments that left most of us — alarmed and confused at the level of stupidity on display.
The worst was when Charlamagne perplexingly concluded that La Negra might be suffering from paranoia — despite the glaring evidence of an epidemic that has always hovered in out midst.
“I don’t even see that in Hollywood. I think times have changed a lot. Are you sure it’s not in your mind?”
Charlamagne’s denial of the power and destructive consequences of colorism is proof of how Black men have perfected the art of deflection when it comes to facing the vital role they play in legitimizing the current climate of hostility — that is geared towards Black women who are too ethnic to be considered beauties.
The producer that tried to bully La Negra into toning down her “Afro” and her vibrant presentation — so that she stands the chance of competing with the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna — wasn’t necessarily making an unreasonable suggestion when you consider the world he inhabits.
The music industry is a scathingly critical arena that only has enough room for those who are willing to play by the rules — with zero room for flexibility. Beyonce’s father, Mathew Knowles — who also served as her manager — back when the superstar was polishing her skills — recently released a book — and during an interview with Ebony magazine — he talked about his upbringing and how it shaped his attitude about “light versus dark.”
Knowles admitted that his own mother discouraged him from bringing home a Black woman with dark skin and features that she deemed — less desirable. This gave Knowles the incentive to only date light-skinned women or White women. He also divulged the fact that he initially assumed that Beyonce’s mother and ex-wife — Tina Knowles was White — due to her very light complexion.
Knowles was given a lot of credit for bravely sharing his reasons for avoiding dark-skinned women like the plague — and even though most of us weren’t all that impressed — we have to at least give him credit for broaching a subject — most prefer to ignore or minimize.
The sensitivity around the topic of colorism is the reason it’s remained the unspoken taboo for so long — but with the arrival of social media and the drastic way it has revolutionized the rules of engagement — it appears that nothing is off limits.
We are free to tackle the burning issues that have been percolating for far too long — and as heated as things tend to get when tweets about how Black men are rude as fuck to Black women who don’t fit their jaded physical requirements — inevitably go viral — there is a sense of vindication for the women who have obviously hit a nerve — based on the potent responses.
It then becomes clear that Black men don’t like being asked about their choices to only date non-Black women because it forces them to dig into the symptoms of a disease that may not be curable.
We can liken this to someone who exhibits obvious signs of colon cancer — but is reluctant to get checked in case his worse fears are realized and he finally has to be confronted with the weightiness of his mortality.
Black men haven’t had it easy when you consider the way they were stripped of their manhood — back when the fields demanded their labor — as their women were subjected to the unimaginable — right in front of their eyes. This legacy of being robbed of their virility in such a callous way — prepared them for a future that would inevitably produce a heavy dose of self-hatred — that can only be thwarted by the cleansing of the soul.
This need to be “cleansed” has led them to believe that the only way to be fully respected and afforded the privilege they are desperately and constantly seeking — is to procreate with the women their masters swore to protect from their unworthy embrace.
Esteemed industry mogul — Quincy Jones — whose most-talked about interview with Vulture — surpassed the very definition of “candid” — has been notoriously public and proud about his lifelong pursuit of White women as romantic partners. His generation of highly-successful male stars from back in the day — were exceedingly vocal about the racial disharmony during the fifties and sixties — but when it came to applying that logic to their personal lives — the lure of proving their exquisite prowess when it came to seducing White women into bearing their children — was to great to resist.
Jones said this during an interview with GQ:
“Here’s what you’ve got to understand: The interracial thing was part of a revolution, too.” “Because back in the ’40s and stuff, they would say, ‘You can’t mess with a white man’s money.… Don’t mess with his women.’ We weren’t going to take that shit. Charlie Parker, everybody there, was married to a white wife.”
The fact that Jones actually viewed dating White women as a “revolution” or a rite of passage for notable Black men that needed that level of validation in order to quench the thirst for the ultimate revenge against White men — is absurd and quite frankly the core of how and why colorism is the disease that won’t go away.
But it goes beyond White men and extends to the realm of how light-skinned women are more sought-after than their darker complexioned counterparts.
Black men who have reached a career trajectory that elevates them to a certain status — are automatically drawn to women that don’t resemble what we now fondly refer to as “regular Black women.” They feel distinguished enough to demand the best in a potential partner and so their palettes crave whatever is close enough to the White aesthetic.
Fair skin, shiny flowy tresses and the kind of features that fit within the range of “exotic” is typically what you would find on the arms of athletes, rappers, actors, etc.
This ritual has forced Black women who are “regular” to question their viability within their own community. The notion that this even has to be a consideration on their part is nothing short of tragic. And the worst part is how Black men who aren’t even successful in the generic sense — also practice this habit of rejecting dark-skinned women who don’t possess the right amount of sex appeal to captivate their interests.
As Black Panther dominates the box office both at home and abroad — there’s been a celebration of how darker skinned actresses like Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira are finally being lauded in a manner that befits their station — which is a rarity for film actresses that match their svelte hues.
A good number of Black men on Twitter publicly demeaned Nyong’o for her skin color — which they declared “too dark” for their liking. At times — their stance bordered on extreme rudeness — as if they were actually waging a battle against themselves — in an effort to gloss over how their issues with colorism has very little to do with a gorgeous actress — who is challenging their very narrow view of beauty.
Until Black men are willing to accept the seriousness of their symptoms — they will remain terminal enemies of themselves. Most of what they experience when they’re revolted by women who resemble Nyong’o — is truly beyond their control — but that doesn’t absolve them of the responsibility of owning their shit and figuring out how to heal their damaged spirit.
Talking about colorism isn’t a fun endeavor — but it is very necessary — particularly since the damage as a result of our allegiance to it — has become quite extensive.
For the sake of what we are and how we want to end up for the betterment of future generations — Black men need to “man up” and start talking.
We are listening.