Here’s Why Refusing to ‘See Color’ Doesn’t Actually Mean You’re Not Racist

26 Jul

Blindfold

Whenever someone says “I don’t see color,” I think back to a time when I didn’t notice it either.

I was a little girl, excited to open Christmas gifts. One Christmas Eve, my parents were wrapping presents while I pretended to be asleep. I peeked through their cracked door as they pulled a life-size Kelly doll out of a box that had shipped earlier that day.

It was exactly what I’d asked for, and I was ecstatic but my parents weren’t pleased. Apparently, this wasn’t the doll they’d meant to order.

This doll was white.

I’d never noticed before that my dolls were a different color from the ones shown in commercials. I understand now that my parents only bought me dolls of color so that I could play with something that looked like me. I understand that they wanted to raise me in a pro-black household where I could love my complexion. But back then, I didn’t care about any of that – I simply wanted the Kelly doll, no matter what color… Read more at Everyday Feminism.

Photo courtesy of Mirko Tobias Schäfer via Flckr.

Respectability Politics: 4 Hints Your Approaches to Empowering Black Communities Are Harmful

18 Jul

There’s a running joke about whether or not black people should eat chicken in public.

When I’d bring a packed lunch with chicken wings to the office, I’d laugh at myself as I heated it up in the break room, thinking, “Am I really about to sit down with a plate of fried chicken in front of all these white folks?”

Of course I would. The chicken stereotype seemed silly to me, but there were other stereotypes I worked hard not to portray. 

I used to viciously side-eye anyone who argued that twerking was empowering. I’d quietly shame people who enjoyed reality TV shows like Basketball Wives and Love and Hip Hop. And I preferred artists like Janelle Monae over Nicki Minaj because I thought Nicki was a modern day example of the Jezebel stereotype.

I didn’t like anything that made black people look like we didn’t have home training. I wanted society to see positive images, like the high rates of black college graduates or the thriving black business owners.

To me, people who embodied stereotypes were enemies to black progress. These were my respectability politics.

Respectability politics are rules used by marginalized groups to help assimilate and survive in hostile environments that aren’t as accepting of other cultures. These rules define acceptable behavior based on mainstream values. They define how to act in front of (white) company.

These politics are frequently found in conversations about how to tackle racism and anti-blackness in America and how to uplift black communities.

For instance, some black parents will teach their children to dress and act a certain way around police officers, in hopes that their children will not suffer the fate of children like Mike Brown and Tamir Rice.

With the exceptions of a few “news” personalities whose intentions no one can be too sure of (ahem, Don Lemon and Stacey Dash), respectability politics typically comes from well-meaning people who love and support black people. Our mothers, teachers, friends, favorite musicians, and relatives use them to better our communities and protect loved-ones from oppressive situations… Read More at Everyday Feminism.

Why Black People Aren’t Required to Fight the Battles of Other People of Color

4 May

Master of None

A few months ago, I was enjoying comedian Aziz Ansari’s Netflix show Master of None. The series had been applauded for tackling issues like racism in Hollywood, interracial relationships, and street harassment. But I was watching purely because I think Aziz, the co-creator and star, is pretty funny.

Halfway through the season, the show began to turn me off. During the episode “Indians on TV,” Dev, Ansari’s character, is copied on a racist email about casting Indian actors for a show. When Dev’s friend suggests that he leak the email, he responds, “People don’t get that fired up about racist Indian or Asian stuff. I feel like you only really risk starting a brouhaha if you say something bad about black people or gay people.”… Read more at The Establishment.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,040 other followers

%d bloggers like this: