Dear Non-Black Minorities: The Division Is Real
Disclaimer: I am not here to hurt your feelings, but it is what it is. Sometimes feelings must be hurt to expose the truth and evoke change.
Here is my experience - Black people are at the bottom of every hierarchy, even amongst minority communities. The darker your skin, the less exotic, the worse off. Disagree? I understand if you do, but let me tell you about my experience before you throw me under the bus, the car, the earth, wherever you would like to throw me at the moment.
Let me explain...
As a Black girl growing up in the Bronx, I was surrounded by people of color, mostly Latino/a people, however, the celebration of diversity ended before it reached me. My brown skin placed me in the shadows of beauty and my 4c hair was despised as it laid unapologetically stiff and thick. As far back as middle school, I remember being made fun of because of my short, textured hair (the hair that, by the way, I manipulated with heat because of social standards of beauty). "Where is the rest of your ponytail," she said, as she, a Puerto Rican classmate, pointed and opened her mouth to humiliate me. Oh, and in high school, I remember a football player telling me I was pretty, only because I was on the lighter end of the melanin spectrum. (Did I mention he was a dark-skinned Black boy?)
"You cute for a Black girl"... no, he didn't say those words verbatim, but he might as well have. By default, my brown skin, wide nose, and short kinky bob put me at a disadvantage; one that light skin minorities will never experience. Your straight hair is close to the heaven they dream of, but my hair and dark skin, closer to the depictions of evil you see in movies. You see, frequently we are taught that the battle is between Black and White, when in reality, even in the most diverse settings, it is feels more like Black people against the world.
All the more identity damaging is the idea that to say I am African American is to silently place the word "only" in front. The idea of being able to extend one's roots to a specific country outside of the U.S.A has been glorified and seen as an exotic treasure to be praised. "Oh girl, you from The Dominican Republic?", "You from Japan?", "You from Columbia?" ,"You speak another language?" Seldom are we taught the rich culture of African Americans or reminded of the blood that was shed, so that many others might be able to one day come to America. Instead, we fade into the background, ununified, and continuously seen as less than interesting.
All of this is particularly troubling for those who are Black and female, who have historically been seen as ugly, only useful for her body, which 'massa' loves (yea, I said it).
But don't just take my word on the issues of color amongst minorities, peep these posts I came across on Facebook and Instagram recently...
Still don't believe me? Let's talk numbers (my love language).
Black women have low rates of marriage, and Black men are two times as likely to marry interracially, which supports the reality that "white-ish" is still right.
I mean, check out the below data from Quartz just a few years ago...
Black women get little love, not even from Black men! I know, upsetting right? It challenges our "everyone is equal" mentality and our "people of color" over the individual minority group mentality. Which leads us to consider...
Why are these non-Black minority groups looking so.... so....prejudice!?
The fact is, many minorities experience internal colorism that, by default, characterizes Blackness as ugly, evil and something to be avoided. Fact is, racism and colorism are at the base of their histories.
The Point: Being a minority does not exclude you from certain levels of privilege, or being racist, or strip you of your need to join the fight for making Blackness in America okay (BLM).
Now, with that said, excuse me if I talk myself up 24/7. Excuse me if I scream "I am Black and Proud." Excuse me if most of my closest circle is Black. Excuse me if I wear my hair unapologetically. Excuse me if I don't focus on other minority struggles for just a second.
As they say, in an emergency, put your mask on first, then help others. The odd thing is, as Black people, our masks have been ON way too long; allow us this time to take it off, and once again come into the fullness of who we are and what we deserve.
I am Black. I am Beautiful. I am Talented. I Have Rich History. Black Lives Matter (in the literal sense).