The Many Faces of Black Self-Hate

The Many Faces of Black Self-Hate
M.D. Wright

Self-Hate is a very touchy subject in the Black community. There are a myriad of reasons for this, many of which are unique to the Black experience in the Western Hemisphere. This is not a case study or a dissertation, but more of a passing thought that was stoked by my viewing of “African Americans: 1500-1800″ on PBS recently. I have held my thoughts pretty close to the vest for the most part, because Black people tend to get offended whenever confronted with strong opinions (and even worse with FACTS), particularly when it is something that uncovers some nasty truths.

The practice of someone (inaccurate as it often is) going out of their way to conceal their blackness and exult whatever non-Black lineage (true or not), phenotypes or anything of the sort is hilarious. Listen to some people — whose ancestors were merely dumped off the wayward and lost ships sooner — tell it, and they’re a LOCATION and not an ethnicity. If your skin is Black and your ancestors are Black, you are Black. Not African American, not that LOCATION (“West Indian“) but Black. It does not matter if you have Taino, Arawak, French, German, East Indian or even Chinese — and listen, there are plenty of people in the Caribbean and South America with several of these bloodlines, this is not to say “Ignore those bloodlines and just say you’re Black,” but stop trying to go out of your way to erase any type of Blackness from your lineage. It is embarrassing and it tells a lot about a person.

The thought that permed/relaxed hair is “more manageable” has been one of the biggest lies and farces in the past 100 years. It is pretty hilarious to listen to someone who is uncomfortable in their own skin (and hair) ramble on and on and making excuses about why they do these things to their hair. While I am not making a values judgment on whether someone SHOULD use those products — because I personally couldn’t care less and certainly have no liberty to tell someone one way or the other anyway — I laugh at the assertion that chemically-treated hair is “easier to manage.” It’s a lie. And those who utter it know it. So do those who hear it uttered. The underlying issue is the most disturbing thing about this, it says that outside pressures to conform to an accepted norm outweigh one’s own personal pride in their heritage, phenotypes and naturally-occurring hair. Again, someone who conforms to such narrow-minded and utterly foolish ideals is someone to be looked at through squinted eyes.

The ol’ “Crabs in a Barrel” phenomenon doesn’t have to be rehashed here. We all know it when we see it, and we know when it is taking place and when someone is simply being jealous.

One of the more obscure, but very prevalent forms of this self-hate that exists is the practice of some — whether they are a quota-filler or truly arrived on merit — who wants doors and red carpets rolled out for them, but the minute another “one of them” (i.e. another Black person) wants to have the same opportunity, they slam the door shut with more fervor than any SUPPOSED oppressor or agent of the “oppressor” (I am SO not talking about White people in general, but the establishment and who’s truly behind all of that — call it for what it is) ever could. You see this a lot with civil service/political jobs, you see it sometimes in professional sports, the entertainment industry, even at your local paper-pushing 9 to 5 job. These Uncle Ruckus types are more concerned with how non-Blacks view Blacks (and Uncle Ruckus specifically) that they think that anyone but a boot licker should be shunned and hidden from view, as if there is a modicum of embarrassment if they are revealed to the public, there will be a shunning to follow.

I have heard so many stories ranging from mixed/or second-generation removed from White children whose parents, grandparents or aunts/uncles hid their offspring and younger nieces, nephews and grandchildren from public view, because if it were gleaned that those children were of their lineage, that they’d be run out of business and out of town. Believe me, I have. I could go on and on here, but again, it is not a dissertation and more or less a passing thought.

Be sure to tune into the series on PBS, it is a six-part series and will be very revealing.

Henry Louis Gates 1


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