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.