Minority within the Minority

Nefateda Harlee, Staff Writer

How can you expect another race to respect yours if you don’t respect it yourself? African Americans are the only race that I know of that further differentiates themselves into categories due to skin tone. What many fail to realize is although Martin Luther King Jr. fought for freedom against racism many years ago, it is still a present issue. I know a lot of black people that would say that they have been treated with prejudice on a few occasions, yet those very same people show certain prejudices towards their own race due to their skin color, eye color, and hair type.

Once I had a job teaching a class of students who were between 6-9 years old. I asked them, “Who has the best face?” thinking that they would, of course, say their own.  Instead, they pointed to the little girl with the lightest skin complexion. In shock, I continued by asking, “Who has the best hair?” The class pointed to the little girl with the curly hair. By this time I was very frustrated, but I continued on with, “Who has the best eyes?” Sure enough, they pointed to the little girl with hazel eyes.

So why did the kids think that?  Often advertisements are biased, showing little light-skinned, curly haired, hazel-eyed girls, and we have no control over that. However, what we can control is how we treat our children. If we constantly uplift that little dark-skinned girl with natural hair and let her know that her dark brown eyes see just as well as those hazel eyes she desires, we could make a big difference in a child’s life.

We have gotten carried away with the light and dark categories in our race. Who is anybody to say that just because one person is light in complexion, they are better than someone who is dark in complexion? Decades ago we stood united to fight this very prejudice, but now we have divided within our race and hold new prejudices.

Everyone is now eager to be “mixed” with another race or to selectively pick their spouses in the hopes that their children are born with light complexions and curly hair. I had a girl once tell me that she was  not black because her mother was Hispanic, Indian and black. She didn’t want to claim the percentage of her that was black, yet she freely uses the n-word whenever she wants.  I’ve never understood why people make it such a bad thing to embrace what and who you are. If you’re going to claim being Indian and Hispanic, but have a greater percentage of black in you, why not embrace all of the races equally? What happened to being “black and proud?”  Why do we even have these classifications?