Light-skin privilege is an unspoken rule
Posted: Friday, August 20, 2004
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Many would like to believe their special white or light-skinned friends and family are somehow above being racist. This is understandable, as many will consider it disrespectful to their parents, other family members and friends to admit to others that their family and friends are racist, and are part of the oppressor group to some degree.
Usually people operate as if truth is a democracy, so they do not weigh arguments properly, but instead they play for popular support. This keeps most people personally dishonest. Anyhow, this is my personal take on some comments here.
This 'we are all oppressed' line is also the line that whites use, as many of them are also oppressed in the white-dominated system. This is because the White system is about materially enriching a few White males while all others are expendable. Many whites tend to play down the privileges they get in the system and use the line, "let us all get together to fight the system".
Many mixed blacks of lighter complexion do not know how ugly that sounds, as they are not the ones on the receiving end of the worst in the system. They are not the ones who the system negatively impacts the most. Mixed blacks even play a part in the sustained oppression of dark-skinned blacks. Generally speaking I find that lighter-skinned mixed Blacks are very tolerant of token accommodations, as these usually materially benefit them first ahead of darker-skinned Blacks. So the line, "let us all get together to fight the system" that seems to play down the privileges and abuses from light-skinned ones, can be taken to mean that we should all get together to promote light-skinned people.
How people interpret language and speak is conditioned by their direct experiences, together with how they have informed themselves. If dark-skinned Blacks lack an awareness of the development of European thought together with the origins of what Europeans co-opted badly from Africa, they are not in a good position to express themselves in their own best interest, or give more enlightening interpretations to things. Everything they speak or do will be about sustaining White dominance. They will in effect be making moves which run counter to their own self-interest, and which further, are anti-black.
Mixed-race people do understand the language of oppression, but many lack the deeper sustained experiences of the system to move with urgency. Generally speaking, they remain unable to feel and act from the urgency of the dark-skinned Black experience. Remember, I said that many Blacks also are not as sensitive because of their ignorance of the system, and of history in general. Many are unable to properly articulate their experiences.
Dark-skinned Blacks who are very sensitive and receptive have one or two things in common. They have deliberately studied the history and/or they have received very traumatic negative experiences in the system, which allowed their senses to be heightened. These Blacks are usually more sensitive to the movements in the system as well as to the motivations of people. Some can falsely feel that we have special problems instead of realizing that we may have special insights.
Whites and light-skinned mixed-race people are at a material advantage in terms of this corrupt Eurocentric system, but they have a natural sensitivity disadvantage.
This is the gap that light-skinned ones do not perceive, and since this English language was not developed to express the feelings of Blacks in general, and to an even greater degree the feelings of more sensitive darker-skinned Blacks, we are left continually looking for better ways to express ourselves. Others do not get the depth of what we say. We must use the same words, but our understandings are not the same. Later I will give an example of this.
Light-skinned ones who engage Black issues are usually more preoccupied with bridging the racial divide than with rooting out the problem, so the moves they find acceptable will usually be unacceptable to a more informed Black-skinned kinky-haired person. Also, since most people have a poor perception of self, they tend to promote their image as the ideal. This can come over as just a token shade away from the white saviour complex. Generally speaking, from my personal experiences, I find informed light-skinned ones to be more into symbols than substance; they are more comfortable with language than with meaning. They confuse information with knowledge, and are unable to identify with legitimate experiences that do not conform to their assumptions. They are more into the show of doing than into real service.
There is no getting around the fact that lighter-skinned people, for all of their good intentions, cannot be as directly sensitive to the system as informed darker-skinned Blacks, and by extension they are also less receptive to many forces. If they have integrity, they will always be aware of this and other truths when they see and hear them, and can use that to guide their conduct like all others.
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