Monday, November 30, 2009

Being Black In America ~ Or Not So

I admit I missed the flap on the Huffington Post about Sammy Sosa appearing at a fund raiser shades lighter than he was remembered as a baseball player. A skin softening regimen he told those who questioned him.

Leonard Pitts wasn't buying it. Pitts, a columnist for the Miami Herald, is one of my favorites. He tells it like it is. He also minces no words about what it's like being black in America. In a column that appeared mid-November he took Sosa to task for having changed his skin tone. In fact he excoriated him for attempting to flee his heritage.

Letters afterwards took Pitts to task, excusing Sosa much the same way Michael Jackson was excused for the same action. To date Sosa hasn't had his features altered. I'm sure Mr. Pitts is wondering if that's far behind and if so will no doubt have much more to say.

In today's column he answers one of those letters and references the video below. It is as revealing as anything I have seen as to how far we have not come regarding how blacks feel about themselves.

Here we sit smug with the fact we've elected our first black President. He has an attractive wife and children. Blacks are well represented throughout his administration. How many of them, especially the women, have not paid some homage to white style. Especially with their hair. Listen to the young girls in the video. Be aware of the age range. Prepare to have your heart broken.

It could be said we have failed them but I think not. I think their own have failed them. Their lack of being comfortable in their own skin, with who they are, is distressing. What a way to grow up. Wanting to be something you cannot. Is it any different than a chubby youngster wanting to be, say, a ballerina while knowing deep inside it would never be? No. I think not. It goes much deeper.

How, at such a young age, does this happen? It isn't generational problem. It is a people's problem. That lack of self esteem runs so deep a child feels it from the elders who surround her. Some outgrow it. Don't they? I don't know. Michael Jackson didn't. Sammy Sosa perhaps didn't. How many others, who haven't gone to quite such lengths, didn't?

It gives race relations a new layer. New to me anyway. What will it take to teach children such as these that they can be anything to which they aspire, regardless of the color of their skin or the texture of their hair! Those shouldn't even be considered hurdles.

They have a very public role model now. The President of the United States. Perhaps that will help. One can certainly hope.


Margie's Musings said...

The video did not load at all Mari. But I certainly agree with your remarks.

Word Tosser said...

I saw on one of the day time shows about this woman who was in denial of being black and said some nasty thing about those women in the audience who were black... I thought at that time.. what a shame. It is in the same line of sadness I had when I learn 40 years ago that women of Japanese decent were straighten out their eyes to be Americanized. Why do we, make some of these people feel inferior? And yes you are right why weren't their parents teaching them to have pride in who they are? I'm sorry but Sammy looks grotesques in his lighter skin. He was a handsome man before... sad, very sad... It is like those who get a nose job, after it is done and said... they are still sad and inferior complex is still there.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why he(Sosa) has lightened his skin. I did ask my dermatologist about Michael Jackson. He had vitiligo (sp?) and stated that was the reason his skin became white. He may have been telling the truth. My doctor said that when the disease is very serious, one remedy is the skin whitening process. It is very painful and not to be undertaken on a whim.