Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Monday and Happy Black History Month! Great Super Bowl! I know "Pretty Ricky" was doing the "Runnin' Man" after his Steelers beat the Cardinals :-) I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.

As you can see, I changed my page a lil bit. It's my birthday month, so why not? Actually, my sister said my page was dry and she didn't like we'll see how she feels about this one :-)

I plan to write my blog only two days this week - TMI Tuesday and Random Thoughts Thursday. And let's face it, those two days don't really require me to dig too deep. But that's okay, because you will definitely have some food for thought today and get your fill.

My Guest Blogger today is another S.U. alum. You know him as "Ox" from our "Comments Family," and he's a deep dude that will get you thinking, and his blog will spark some interesting discussion. So with that said, show him some love! Introducing "The Ox" - Maalik Abdul Rasheed.

Hello world, what's poppin? I first want to thank Brooke for getting me up on this illustrious blog. If you've visited my blog, Why I Hate The Joneses, you know that my topics tend to lean on a more somber/philosophical, almost mechanical angle. What can I say, I'm a friggin' programmer. Shoot me.

What this blog post isn't:

- A post asking woolly haired women and men to stop putting a temporary in their hair (although I would give my entire net worth away and start working from scratch if we could stop doing this)
- A post making excuses for our behavior while discounting the long lasting effects of how our actions reinforce our own self hatred.

What this is:

- A post including a couple of stories that have to do with self hate and skin color envy.
- A post that wants to get behind the cognitive dissonance that exists with our often repressed self hatred.

In November of 2008 Brooke wrote a great blog on good hair and bad hair.

I would like to delve a little bit deeper on the following topic of self and the identity of people of African descent, conveniently titled, "Can people hate themselves, but not know it?"

Awww issh..I dun dunnit now..Let me start with a bit of background about my wife and I. Before you proceed, please read this blog post from my wife:

I Am My Hair

I know what you are sayin.."Damn, all these prerequisite blog in a blog reading - just get to it!" Well people, unfortunately this issue is complex and you need a bit of background info before you proceed.

So as you can see, my wife's features and skin color locks her into a lot of races, depending on the situation. It's the gift and the curse. As you can see from her post, the reality of how we are treated from time to time is quite sobering. Keep in mind that we are in NYC. The queen of the so-called "melting pots."

Here is another short story. A good friend of mine decided to get rid of her "temporary" (what it really should be called because it's far from a perm [short for permanent) and something dramatic happened. The quality and level of respect from black and non-black men went through the roof. Obviously you are always going to have the "Yo Ma" and "Wassup baby" ignorant fools out there, but the response changed. Not to say that we should hedge this one lil ole story on what I'm saying, but I'm sure you get the point. For now I don't necessarily want to get into the superficiality of the response, but I want to get into the psychology of the response. What was it about this woman rocking a cropped natural that changed their tone so dramatically? In my mind, the behavior exuded a natural level of confidence and a lot of men picked up on that. I've heard this same story from many women after they, as we like to say, "go natural." It plays out like a broken record. As a matter of fact, I heard terms like “liberating” and “free” from many women. How on earth could something so insignificant create emotions like this?

Simply, if I told you I bought an original Picasso or the Mona Lisa, most people would be impressed. "Oh word, you got the original?” Then I told you 1 minute after, "Yo, guess what, it's not real." I actually bought it for about $5 dollars from this company called "Accurate Knock Offs, Inc." that are exceptional at duplicating originals. (If you are not into European inspired art just plug in your favorite African art of choice in this fictional scenario.) Would you still have the same reverence and awe as you did after I told you the truth? Would you have the same respect for me? Would you have the same awe towards the painting? Probably not, because it's quite clear that the painting is a fraud. You can just about plug in anything in this scenario and the response is the same. Whether it's a Coach bag, Louie Vuitton bag or some fake Tims.

If something like an inanimate object could create such an emotional response, why not human beings that spend billions of dollars trying to smother their cognitive dissonance by wrapping up their doubt about their beauty with standards that have been indoctrinated on them by another culture? Are we so naive not to see the obvious damage and danger in this behavior?

If you check this article about Chris Rock's documentary that tackles race and perceptions of beauty, we can see the psychological impact of his child asking him "Daddy, why don't I have good hair?” Even the privileged child of a multi-million dollar comedic genius with the wit of Einstein could not escape the trappings of self hate. Unfortunately we discount the damage we do to ourselves and our community.

Some interesting facts:

The majority of all images of African descent are Europeanized in entertainment, news, music, mass media, magazines, etc. Doesn't that bother you? It friggin' bothers me.

After 60 years, the doll test where a white and black doll are given to young black kids, the perceptions of seeing their black skin as a ugly and dirty is the same. They love the white doll and hate the black doll. Now keep in mind that all these kids grew up in predominately black neighborhoods and their mind got screwed just as if they were taught to hate themselves. Doesn't that bother you? It friggin' bothers me.

Watch this when you have time - Modern Racist Paradigm

Doesn't this video bother you? It friggin' bothers me.


I'm tired of people discounting the psychological damage of how we and many other cultures Europeanize themselves. My wife is pregnant and we have a boy on the way. If we had a girl, there is no way in hell that any chemical would be touching the scalp of my child. Why on earth are we shocked that our children feel disgraced when they see us scorching, manipulating, and augmenting our facial features, skin color, and hair texture for our whole entire life? I just want to be clear. I'm just concerned about acts and behavior that reinforce self-hate among young children. These young children grow up to be adults and then have to wrestle with something that should be apparent. Many of us spend our whole life figuring out and pondering how we succumbed to that which put us in a self hatred disposition.



I can't front though, I had the early '90s Baby Face Duke/S-curl in high school and the way I rocked it, people though it was natural. However, I was given the good hair stamp of approval. I think Puffy still rocks an S-curl. LOL


E.Payne said...

I'm liking the new format, Brookey! Getting ready to hop on a plane back to NYC. I'll comment later.


E.Payne said...

As far as the dolls go. Only brown (Spanish & Black) babies/Barbies are allowed in my house while my baby girl is developing. She sees the Disney fairies and princesses in her little DVDs and has them in her coloring books, but nothing she can hold onto or pretend to take care of.

Anonymous said...


OK Now to the topic at hand... I think people in general no matter what race or color they are always have things that they dislike about themselves. It's human nature. I think the battle is trying to make sure you don't let your dislikes get in the way of your love for yourself & embracing who you are. Yes I personally have things that I don't like about myself & even Stereotypes that I don't like about my culture. BUT I embrace it like a mofo. I love being PR & wouldn't change it a bit. Plus I'm open minded enough to have friends of almost EVERY race out there. And when the baby comes in August it WILL be spoken to in English & SPANISH. I ain't playing around with my kid not knowing both languages. It will have NO choice.

phillygrl said...

this is an interesting comment b.c I have a black friend who is also married to a Saudi/Lebanese woman & he contends not to have any of these issues( they works in NYC(living in nj now)( she for SHOT 97 & he for Nielson)..they are both in entertainment & recognize sterotypes, anycase..I have not had a perm in about 6 years...however & I must admit, it is not freeing at all..when I had a perm, I could wash blwdry my hair in abt an hour, I'd do it in the am BEFORE work & keep it moving all day. I moved to L.A. & surprisingly, no one there seemed to have a "perm" the hairdresser was like WOW..I can count on one hand my clients who have a perm..&Im like are you kidding I dont' even know anyone at home( East Coast) without one!.Well..I let it grow out & just got straightened...etc..When I moved back East, I just never got a perm again, but It takes me now AT LEAST 2 hours to do my hiar...luckily I work from home, & don't have to go into an office setting that a ponytail is my style of choice(even when I go to work, I can make it look ok, add some nice earrings makeup, etc.--so Im not looking like I came from the gym!!:-)..but when I wash it, blowdry, straighten, flat iron, etc....That's not freedom---.... if I leave it natural/ gets very dry the next day & I end up straightening it anyway to keep it moisturized...OH..well..such is life... & my son does have white "men" figurines..passed down from other's not a big deal right now, he picks them up ,maybe 2x a month, but if I had a girl , I think i'd be more conscious of it, really...maybe I will get Zaire some black action figure men..hmmm....

Anonymous said...

I can understand that we want our kids to be knowledgable about our cultures & where we came from BUT are we limiting them OR creating our own stereotypes by consciously forbiding them to only play with black or hispanic dolls??? I mean we all grew up playing with white dolls & from what I see here with the exception of Craig most of us have grown up to be well rounded intelligent & successful human beings. AND then Craig comes in & adds his flavor! LOL.

Anthony Otero said... the new format.

A lot of what I have been saying lately on my blog is very similar to this. Latinos have the same issues with skin color. You will never see Latinos on tv that have issues with their hair because those types of Latinos dont exist in the media outside of baseball.

Very good blog, I enjoyed reading it.

phillygrl said...

p.s. mailk(or anyone)...did you ever watch that movie with will smith (recently), where he was the last person on earth( I can't remember the name) . & he had a dog withhim, etC? Well..wondering what you thoughtof it, I won 't give way ending if noone has seen it, but my son's dad is a conspiracy theorist & after I wastched it he made some comments that truly, I wuld have never thought of b/c I don't htink that way( but just after watching that embedded Malcolm speech& reading the commentary abt media, I wondered abt it)...I will state what he said later on today, but wondering 'yous guys(that's south philly talk:-)' take on it

Brooke said...

Are you talking about "I Am Legend?" I would like to hear this theory you're talking about :-)

As far as self-hate, I think it depends on what your parents instill in you as well. I had white and black dolls, even though I never played with them. I never looked at dolls as "real" anyway, so I never based my beauty on them. My mother told my sister and me that we were beautiful everyday, all the time - so my idea of being beautiful came from her.

As some of you know, my mother and sister have a different grade of hair than I do and both have lighter complexions, but I never thought they were more beautiful than I was because of it. If anything, they both were always telling me how pretty my brown skin is to the point that I love being out in the sun on the beach so I can get "browner!" I think it begins with what your parents teach you and how they build up your self esteem.

I'm not saying that outside forces don't have any influence. It still amazes me that the test with the dolls has the same result all these years later. But I hope it's something our children grow out of. That behavior is learned, so hopefully it can be "un-learned."

As for the straight v. natural hair thing, I feel like I've spoken about that in my previous blog, so I won't necessariy revisit it again. Ox said that's not what this blog is about per se. I DO think some women view straight hair as more beautiful, but I think most women view straighter hair as easier to care for - which is my case and apparently Karen's (I didn't know your hair was natural). I just chalk it up to personal choice since none of us can determine whose self-esteem or consciousness is intact. But for Chris Rock to do a documentary on it based on his own daughter's self perception shows that we're still color struck and hung up on hair more more than feeling beautiful simply because we exist.

Serena W. said...

Brooke...great layout! Bro Maalik you are hitting a great topic. I first "permed my hair" when I was 14 years old held onto it for about 10 years. When I moved to the DC area I was so moved by the sistas and brothas who were natural. Some never touching chemicals in their life. I did some self evaluating and was tired of my "lifeless hair." A perm was great if you want it straight, but I wanted my kink back. I felt like something was missing.

I grew my hair natural but was still pressing it making it straight and went back to the perm because I got a job and didn't know how they would react to my "natural hair" when it was in a the power poof, twists, etc.

After being laid off six months later I went into deep thought and knew that people black or white need to accept me for who I am and what my hair is and if they don't then they can step! Also my hair started falling out and my hairdresser's up to you but these chemicals are killing you. "Wow powerful statement."

As you can see...the hair is natural takes me an hour from the time I wash it to the either air drying or blowing it out. I LOVE IT! But loving yourself is internal, it's deeper than a look. Just cause folks see a sista rocking a fro or a brother rocking his locks doesn't mean that they FEEL FREE or LOVE themselves...they might just LOOK FREE. Never judge a book by it's cover.

Deep topic Ox!

Anonymous said...

Annamaria you ain't speaking nothin' but the truth but I can just about trace a lot of these "dislikes" to standards that don't fit too neatly in the European beauty standard. Whether it's Middle Easterners using Aquason (I think that's the name) to straighten their hair for 4 years at a time, Asians getting eye lid surgery because they attribute the fold in the eyebrow as some European standard (even though ever damn non-Asian typically has folds in their eyebrows so how this got exclusively associated with people of European descent is besides me)

phillygrl, I just want to be clear that my wife's story is not a everyday occurrence. It's just something we noticed from time to time. My wife aka "eagle eyes" is very observant. I always mess with her and say she has the power to see through walls because she catches things that only Superwomen could.

I did see I am Legend, but I would love to hear the conspiracy theory regarding I am Legend. Apparently it went way over my head.

Latinnego, in the past I dated a lot of Puerto Rican women and I was shocked by the number of skin color and hair issues that existed. I got a lot of Dominican friends too, and there are maaad issues there too. Probably even more stark than in the African-American community. What do you think?

What's nice to hear on a lot of the comments is the awareness. And a lot of us are actively trying to reverse the brainwash (which is great)

Serena W. said...

I never saw I am Legend but would also love to hear what the conspiracy theory is as well :-)

Brooke said...

I have a friend whose mother has skin a shade or two darker than mine, and her mother is Puerto Rican. Yet she wanted her fair daughters to marry white men so they wouldn't have dark children. She married another Puerto Rican with fair skin and LOVED that her children favored him. I was shocked when I learned this, and surprised to find out that alot of Latino people shared our same issues. I've read Latinegro's posts on this and it's crazy!

My sister's husband is Moroccan, and some would say he has a Middle Eastern appearance like Ox's wife. My some have mistaken him for Italian and Latino, depending on the day or if he's with my sister, so I could definitely relate to your wife's post. My nephews are very fair, so I often wonder what they'll relate to. I assume they'll eventually see themselves as black, but I'll let my sister address that in her comment - if she leaves one.

Anthony Otero said...

Ox, there are several issues all Latino Communities that relate to skin and hair. The images of beauty for Latino are made very clear when watching Telemundo and Univision. You just don’t see Afro-Latinos. I asked this question, have you ever seen a Black Mexican?

Many Latinos refuse to believe that being dark means that they are linked to Africa in anyway. A lot of that has to do with the Spanish Settlers treating the Africans in Latin American poorly. Thus anyone dark skinned was treated as second class citizens. It is still like that today in many countries. Is there no wonder you see all these dark Latino baseball players here in America

Anonymous said...

Serena, I had locks and I cut them off in October of last year. At first I enjoyed having locks, but due to religious reasons I had to eventually cut them off. There was a muslim sista who commented on Brooke's good hair bad hair blog and she clearly mentioned the issue. Before you pray you have to be in a state of purity so there is one step where you have to wipe over the hair with wet hands. Now if you have a temp, your hair is done and even if you have locks, the new growth that was just recently twisted is going to unravel. So my locks became very hard to manage because after doing wudu (purification) 5 times a day for prayer you can imagine how wild my hair got.

So i cut them off, and never looked back. To echo another point you made, there is a tendency for people to associate afros, locs, twist and even certain type of braids with being "conscious". When I had locs all of sudden I was lumped into the "conscious" dread lock crew. God forbid if I was on the train and there were several other brothers and sisters with locs. I didn't know whether I should start singing with the other "dreds" on the train or start busing out with some wicked patwa.

WOw Brooke, you see that? I'm sure there are nuff Middle Easterners that go through this. It's like guilty by association. LOL. LN, I was really shocked and there is such a strong African line in Latino/Latina culture. it's great that you put it out there for the world to know what time it is. Let me tell ya'll a short story that speaks to the dark skin hatred that has permeated the world:

So around 1997 I went to Venezuela. Vacation was great, but leaving the country was another issue. So I'm on the line where you show your passport to security so you can get on the plane. Very few black folks, as a matter of fact the only dark skin people were me and security. So everyone on the line was white and about 20 white folks before me and about 20 behind me. So everything is going smoothly until the airport security gets to me. Looks at me then looks at my passport then says. "No, No". I'm like "No, what?". He responds, "No, No, can't do, can't do". I'm standing their baffled. We start arguing for a couple minutes until this old white women who remembered me from the resort came over and said, "No what are you doing, he's okay". Immediately he let me go and passed me through the security gate. No when I say immediately I'm taking 5 seconds after she confirmed my existence credentials. LOL.

Note to self: Always have at least one white person around who knows you when you go to South America

Brooke said...

wow, that's crazy! Who did he think you were? That's just insanity.

Anonymous said...

Brooke it's soo funny that you mentioned the Puerto Rican mother who wanted her grandkids to be fair skinded. My mother is the EXACT opposite(mind you she is much lighter than I am & loves that I got my dad's complexion. Most of my brothers married light skinned Puerto Rican women, which resulted in some majorly light skinned grandkids for my mother. The first thing she said when I told her that I was pregnant was THANK GOD finally I can have some dark babies in the house! LOL...

Anthony Otero said...


That is aweome! I think my family was on a quest to lighten itself...

Anonymous said...

Not my mother.. She LOVES lil dark skinded

Brooke said...

It's one thing to be attracted to a certain "look," but what was so disturbing was the doll test where they said the Black doll was "bad." That is more alarming to me. It's like who came up with THAT part? It's sad.

Anonymous said...

Brooke-I like the new look of the blog. Nice choice.

Ox Good blog post.

To hate yourself is a strong term. You would not want to live if it's it that strong of a feeling.

I feel self esteem has to be instilled in you when your youngs but it's an on going progress pending on your walk of life.

I never had black dolls or black books but I never felt less of myself because of my complexion/race and there is a good majority of my schooling when I was young I was one of the only few people of color in the school.

Brooke said...

Thanks Rene,

Well, the question posed by Ox was if you could hate yourself and NOT KNOW it, so it's possible you could have these deep-seeded issues subconsciously and live your life accordingly while not being suicidal. If your parents tell you all your life that "light" is right and that your hair has to look a cerain way in order to be considered beautiful, then you'll believe it. If you don't fit the stereotype of what is considered beautiful as it was taught to you, you can hate that part of yourself and always strive to be something you aren't based on some arbitrary standard. Some people may not even be aware of it.

Anonymous said...

okay, I had to comment...

i have natural hair; i cut my relaxer out about 6 years ago and i have never looked back; it takes me less time to do my hair now than when i had a relaxer...

i also cut my hair off because i wanted to know why i felt the need to "conform to superficial standards of beauty set forth by a european ideology". (<--i was drunk when i came up with that but hear me out.) i sat back and thought that most decendants of african people have a TOTALLY defferent texture than 90% of the world so with somehting so rare, why am i changing it?

i think my hair is healthier and more beautiful than when i had a perm but i am not going to knock someone who choses to get a relaxer; i live in a glass house and i choose not to throw stones!

Georgia Peach said...

Loved the blog today good look Brooke I like the modifications you made. Ok - it took me a little time to get through the text of the blog and all the comments, but I have to say that Ox - I agree with your wife NYC is one of the most racist places on earth despite all of the diversity that lives here. I grew up in GA and had never been called the N word to my face until I moved here to NYC and was walking around the wrong hood in BK. Go figure!

I think that it's interesting that you mention your friend rocking the cropped natural Ox b/c I wear a short cropped natural myself. I love it, but as a person who has done both the natural and relaxed thing believe it or not I find that when I have straighter hair the folks that respond to me more positively are my own people. With cropped, natural hair white folks love me more. Go figure again! I personally feel more confident when my hair is short and natural, so maybe the energy I put out there is one that people just don't want to F with, but all in - I made the decision to love myself despite what others think. That's something that's hard and you have to work at and it won't change over night for a lot of us. Hopefully we can all make the decision to instill as much love and hope in our children and family members so they don't have to deal with all the issues that are rooted in self hate.

That's just my two cents.

Brooke said...

I won't comment on hair since I did that blog already...but is anyone else still wondering what this conspiracy theory is from I Am Legend? How is Karen gonna leave us hanging like that? :)

Serena W. said...

The comments are great! This post really has people thinking and you are sooooooooooo right Maalik. I'm now "conscious" lol! Well I was conscious when I rocked my relaxed aka "temp." Sigh. Also I'm supposed to be this calm, cool, relaxed sista because of my hair. I am that but don't rub me the wrong way. Jill Scott even talked about how people perceive her because she rocks her natural. Madness.

Georgia Peach it's so funny, I thought it was just me. Out here in good ole Dallas, home of the good ole boy network I have a lot of friends who are white and that is fine! They love my hair!

Now tell me why you got some black folks (and really they are everywhere) that have asked. "Why did you do that to your hair?"

I ask...why did I do what? This is me and who I am.

Instantly you can tell they are taken back and say...well what happened to the perm and all your long hair?

And I told them with a smile, I left it in Brooklyn last May at a shop called Tendrills and never looked back. Some people are really not happy with themselves and like the old saying goes...misery loves company. Don't fall for it cause they'll have you wrapped up in their misery.

Serena W. said...

Yeah we need to know what's the theory girl!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think the jury is still out on this one, but I want to thank Brooke for bring in the question from the post full circle. Clearly from a lot of the comments, there is a menacing level of denial and self hate going on from what we have all observed in different situations. What GeorgiaPeach said is not in a vacuum. And we should reiterate, just because someone has a afro or not does not impact the righteousness, morales, and cultural "down-ness" if you will of that person. Word.

After watching the documentary Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy Degruy Leary, I do feel there exist an often (I'm going hi-jack this word from Brooke) repressed doubt about the validity of ones external characteristics. The root of that denial definitely goes back 500 years during the inception of slavery. I would suggest people watch that joint, very eye opening.

phillygrl, please hook us up with the I am Legend conspiracy. I'm dying over here..don't let me google that joint. LOL

Anonymous said...

I feel people can not feel good about yourself and not know it. It's just how some people by a lot of materialistic items make themselves feel happy but can't be in a state of just "being" and be content.

Brooke said...

I don't know if I agree with that completely. What if you've been conditioned that way, to feel that buying things for yourself is "pampering" yourself instead of having an addiction to shopping. Some people may truly believe that's what happiness is. It depends on what you have to compare it to. Just like alot of addicts may not realize they have a proble. I know alot of people who drink excessively, but are functioning alcoholics. They feel that because they go to work everyday and can support themselves that they don't have a problem. You can be an alcoholic and only drink on weekends, but may not see yourself that way based on the picture that SOCIETY paints of alcoholism. So you could be in denial and not even know it.

Anonymous said...

Rene, I usually agree with you, but fam, on this one, I'll have to disagree. Check out this quote from Carter G. Woodson. This quote sums up the danger in denial of cognitive dissonance and basically taking the wrong pill had Morpheus offered it to any one of us if we were in the Matrix:

"If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one.”

phillygrl said...

ok, the consipracy theory..sorry, I totally forgot to come back!!lol!...He says that Will Smith spends the latter part of the movie trying to help some white woman gain freedom at the cost of his life, Will wants to help this woman & her white son( the woman looks to be latino or somehting, but not white--but son looks white) to freedom to continur future generations. Now, the zombie at the end who is trying to get to him through the lab glass door, is mad b/c HIs girlfreind is the one on the table that Will is trying to revive,,anothe white woman, so this White Man( zombie) , wants his woman( tht will has( a white zombie woman) , & he( will) is trying to save the owrl & end his own existence so a white little boy can continue Earth's white poulation, etc, yo can see.....he is a consipracy theorist..I can name a million books, movies, etc.. that he has comments like this's very nerve racking & pessimistic view of the world....--& we are not together, but i still have to hear it in general my nerves!!...

Brooke said...

yeah, that's a bit of a stretch :)

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