March 26, 2011

Black - Stay Back - Brown - Stick Around

The rhyme which is the title of this post refers to a deep and abiding stigma surrounding skin color that originated, of course, in mainstream society yet continues to plague the African American community.  The infamous brown paper bag tests were insidious games of the early twentieth century in which little black children created clubs that only accepted children whose skin was lighter than a brown paper bag.  I have written fiction about this phenomenon, and it has been the focus of much social psychology for the better part of the twentieth century.  Black folks continue to perpetuate the tropes of slavery in which the light-skinned mulatto slaves were allotted some of the privileges of whiteness by doing the work of domestic servants and living in the plantation house in close proximity to whites.  While the dark-skinned slaves were relegated to slave shanties in close proximity to the other chattel and the field in which they toiled from sun up to sun down.  Through miscegenation, the whites in power created a slave class system predicated on skin color.

This is our history, our American history; however, it is regrettable that this history is still relevant discourse today.  It has been my hope that when we ushered in a new century, some things would become fodder for the history books.  However, colorism is still alive and prospering.

Right about now, the naysayers (most likely the colored folk who are reading this) are refuting this assertion.  They are most likely under 30 and believe they are the new "enlightened" generation of black folks.  Well, think again.