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The ‘Other’ Dark Meat

What does a Filipino, Pakistani or Iranian give up or gain for the simplicity of being understood as persons in brown – not ‘black’ – skin? More importantly, what happens to the historically specific histories of domination and subordination that weaves their life experience of difference with that Africans, African Americans, and the Native and African influences throughout Latin America’s racial jambalaya?

eRacism’s emphasis on the social difference between race and color is reinforced by the cognitive dissonance that situates persons of African decent within a color scheme as a skin color that is different from what is visible to the eye. Most black persons of African decent are technically speaking a shade of brown. The history of persons with white skin or that are visually Caucasian identifying persons with skin darker than their own as ‘black’ is long and complicated.

The stigmatization of blackness presents an enormous obstacle, even to small boys. Last year, for example, the Department of Education reported that black children were far more likely to be suspended from school — even from preschool — than white children. Federal cases also show higher rates of public school suspensions for minority students than for white students for identical behavior, suggesting that racial discrimination against black males starts very early in lifeForcing Black Men Out of Society – NYT: Editorial Board 4-25-15

In a poem titled ‘Colour’, Malcolm X dissects the absurdity of people with white skin calling ‘black’ people ‘colored’ by actually focusing on the colors of their skin.

COLOUR

by

Malcolm X

When I was born, I was black.
When I grow up, I’m black.
When I’m ill, I’m black.
When I go out in the sun, I’m black.
When I’m cold, I’m black.
When I die, I’m black.

But you –

When you’re born, you’re pink.
When you grow up, you’re white.
When you’re ill, you’re green.
When you go out in the sun, you go red.
When you’re cold, you go blue.
When you die, you’re purple.

And you have the nerve to call me Coloured?

This post does not deal directly with the history of ‘white’ skin verses ‘black’ skin but rather examines the perspective of persons with skin that is not as dark or ‘brown’ as that of ‘black’ people with brown skin. In other words, ‘the other dark’ meat.

An interesting uncommon sense is on display when an Arab, Hindu, Persian, Latin American or a person of mixed race posits the visible color of their skin – ‘brown’ – as a category of diversity.  They proclaim themselves to be ‘brown’ as if ‘brown’ was a socially valid ‘racial profile’ distinct from persons of African decent who are just as ‘brown’ as these non-white skin persons. What is so unique about their social experience of difference such that they are ‘brown’ compared to persons of African decent with brown skin who are considered ‘black’? Referencing Whoopi’s ‘the bat joke’ post on this blog, is it the difference between ‘black angels’ and ‘bats’?

It is just as obvious that ‘brown’ people do not have white skin as it is that their skin like that of ‘black people’ is a shade of brown. How light must that shade of ‘brown’ be before it is afforded its own ‘racial profile’ nudging it towards ‘white’ and away from obvious associations with ‘black’? So again, the question is what is a ‘brown’ person in contradistinction to a ‘black’ person with brown skin if not a negative identification of the social experience of a life colored by the difference associated with being ‘black’? Is the identification of oneself as a ‘brown’ person a positive or a negative identification of self or ‘the other’?

The coercion of ‘sameness’ by effacing and eracing ‘difference’ based on how ‘white skin’ people simplify the distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is an ever present danger. This danger is perpetuated by how so-called ‘brown’ people internalize and express themselves as an unfolding of subordination and domination rooted in differences that are not ‘black’ as opposed to not ‘white’.

The notion of ‘brown’ people is a self-inflicted wound that is infected with a sense of self-loathing rivaled only by the loathing that being ‘brown’ implies for what ‘brown’ people understand and know as ‘black’. The idea of a ‘brown person’ being a self-inflicted wound is based in part on the fact that people who adopt ‘brown person’ as their racial profile jettison rich cultural heritages and ethnic ethoses in order to simplify themselves for the sole purpose of amalgamating into categories of diversity defined by subordination and domination.

We Burmese tend to be prejudiced against people with darker skin color. And that’s typical among Far East or Southeast Asian countries where lighter, paler skin is considered more prestigious and desirable. This 969 movement is preying on the historical and cultural prejudices we have as a society towards darker skin color.Dr. Muang Zarn

What does a Filipino, Pakistani or Iranian give up or gain for the simplicity of being understood as persons in brown – not ‘black’ – skin? More importantly, what happens to the historically specific histories of domination and subordination that weaves their life experience of difference with that Africans, African Americans, and the Native and African influences throughout Latin America’s racial jambalaya? Why bring so much to the table just to give it up in an apparent attempt to stake out a spot in the colour spectrum closer to ‘white’ than to ‘black’, that is, closer to a measure of sameness as opposed to a measure of difference?  What conflict of difference do they seek to abate, evade or ignore?

The landmine in labeling someone ‘black’
By Esther J. Cepeda

Here, it is possible to reformulate the question, yet again, of ‘brown’ people as a ‘racial’ profile, a category of diversity and difference. How do ‘brown’ people fit into the demography of subordination and domination? The answer is referenced in an earlier post on this blog, “Abbreviated Difference”, that warns of being defined and or self-explained negatively. If coerced, ‘brown’ fits in the demography of subordination and domination as not white with one caveat, not necessarily none-White. The pessimistic view of ‘brown people’ is that the ‘racial profile’ of a ‘brown person’ is a subtle statement that this new ‘they’ are not necessarily none-white. After all, brown is what white people are when the weather is good enough to give their skin a little bit of colour. If white people are willing to risk cancer to get a shade darker, it makes sense to some ‘brown’ people to risk subordinating the difference they represent to this vogue category of difference. ‘If you can’t be a model, walk through life like one!’

While being ‘brown’ may not in the end be a way or an excuse to be ‘white’ it is a desperate grasp of some measure of sameness. For some, ‘being brown’ certainly seems to be a way not be associated with the difference that colors the lives of millions of ‘blacks’ in North America, Latin America and Africa who are browner than most ‘brown’ people.

Brown

by

Tom States

When I was born, I was brown.
When I grow up, I’m brown.
When I’m ill, I’m brown.
When I go out in the sun, I’m browner.
When I’m cold, I’m brown.
When I die, I’m brown.

And you-

When you’re born, you’re brown.
When you grow up, you’re brown.
When you’re ill, you’re brown.
When you go out in the sun, you go browner.
When you’re cold, you go brown.
When you die, you’re brown.

But you have the nerve to call me ‘Black’?

Since obviously the difference between ‘black’ and ‘brown’ people is not the actual color of their skin, what social experience of difference colors the life and lives of ‘brown’ people? Is it the domination and subordination of ‘black’ people? Within the conceptual framework of eRacism, the difference between ‘black’ people and ‘brown’ people would be equivalent to the difference between life experienced as a Negra, Negro, Nigger, Niggar, ‘black’, Afro-American and African-American. Those who do not experience this difference be they ‘black’, ‘brown’, Arab, Indian or African-American are usually those who can in more ways than not afford not to experience it outside of their comfort zones.

otherdarkmeat

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
— Frantz Fanon (Black Skin, White Masks)

Miles Hodges: “Maskless”

Holding Onto The Other Half

the other half

30 Light skin Privileges Light Skin Blacks have that Dark Skin Blacks Don’t.

If we really care about Black unity we will focus on the topics that divide us and yes, colorism is one of them. If you ignore colorism you are a colorist. If you say it doesn’t exist regardless of the evidence you are a colorist. If you support people who promote colorism you are a colorist. If you see it happening and do nothing to stop it, you are a colorist. If you are silent about it you are complicit and you are a colorist. There is no room for negotiation or compromise. There is no middle ground. This is a great evil the must end. Read the countless studies on colorism here. Now you are wondering what we can do to end colorism. Take a look at 11 things you can do right now to end colorism.

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Curriculum Vitae

Tom L. States PhD Candidate

Fields of Interest: Political Theory, International Relations, Marxist Political Economy

Research Topic: eRacism - Conflicts of Difference

Education History: Williams College, BA Political Science; New York University, MA Politics; York University PhD Candidate

Languages: English, German

Hometown: Greenwood, Mississippi

Words of Wisdom: “IT” is what you are when you are young. Your youth mistakes certainty of the few things that you think you know for knowledge of things that it takes a life time to understand. With time and a few life experiences “IT” becomes the thing you pursue to give your life meaning. Somewhere along the way of having or getting “IT” you ask yourself, ‘Is this “IT”? Panic sets in when you realize that “IT” is your life. Fear and insecurity is that feeling you get when “IT” has not been worth a life time.

Bookshelf

Harvey, David. Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference. New York: Longman, 1996.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin White Masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove Press. 1967.

Cancian, Francesca M. Gender Politics: Love and Power in the Private and Public Spheres. Gender and the Life Course. Ed. Alice S. Rossi. New York: Aldine, 1985.

Sand, Shlomo. The Invention of the Jewish People. New York: Verso, 2009.

Lay, Shawn. The Invisible Empire In The West: Toward a New Historical Appraisal of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920's. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

Journal

Carothers, Thomas. Think Again: Civil Society. Foreign Policy Date, (Winter: 1999-2000).

Ober, Josiah. The original meaning of "democracy": Capacity to do things, not majority rule. Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics. American Political Science Association meetings, Philadelphia, (2006).