kylie jenner

I sometimes like to believe that social media isn’t an accurate reflection of the pulse of our generation, but sadly, I think it might be. In fact, not altogether sadly – there are a lot of great things coming from social media. Some things though, are disheartening.

Not least, the increasing popularity of the “‘black’ white girl”.

Kylie Jenner’s lip fandangle hit the internet some time ago (I can’t keep up with the trends), and she joined the ranks along with her sister in becoming the latest white woman  praised for a feature that generally, although not exclusively, belongs to black women as if no black women before her existed with said feature. It’s old news – Kim’s rear end being praised as some sort of revolutionary object, braids on the catwalk touted as a ‘new trend’, blue eyed soul getting more air play than black folks just singing.

The “‘black’ white girl”, is essentially just another spin on an age old trend of celebrating black features, culture and essence more  when it is exhibited on or in non-black bodies.

Interracial couples are increasing in number and without examination of the trend and the factors contributing to it, we could naively view this as a wholly positive move, bringing us closer to the racial utopia of our dreams. However, white supremacy manages to ruin everything and unfortunately there appears to be a trend amongst some young black men where the epitome of womanhood is a non-black, more specifically white woman, who exhibits all the features that classically belong to black women.

Scour the underbelly of black twitter and you will find a substantial enough number of tweets from black men celebrating ‘snowbunnies’, and crigeworthy hashtags like #whitegirlwednesday or #snowbunnysunday.

What makes this different from hashtags like #blackoutday or #blackbeauty? Quite obviously because the context is entirely different. These hashtags originate with the intention of affirming a group of women  (black women) who are often either sexually fetishised or dismissed as ugly. White women are venerated world-wide as the standard of beauty and there is absolutely no need to continually affirm a standard of beauty that is already incessantly celebrated to the point of being pathological.

Additionally, the problem is that the celebration of white women taking place amongst a certain class of black men is generally alongside the degradation of black women, while at the same time strangely praising white women who have the ‘sexual’ characteristics commonly associated with black women. I say sexual, because it primarily focuses around big buttocks, big breasts and big lips. Never are black women’s skin tones, hair texture or broad nose seen as a standard of beauty by these men. (This is also in fact degrading to women (to everybody) as a whole, as women’s body parts are dissected and assembled merely as a means for male pleasure).

The reason this is important is because it has so many ramifications for the community. The black communities wealth will lie in its ability to pool economic resources and unify in the face of oppression. If young black men absorb, even subconsciously, the idea that whiteness has inherent value and that black femininity is less valuable except as an ‘add on’ to  white femininity, it becomes increasingly difficult for the sense of unity so needed to resist the the institutional and overt racism faced by the community, to develop.

Because despite the white women who genuinely love and respect their partners,the vast majority of the women who have fought for justice, lead the marches in Ferguson and Baltimore, lead the calls for justice for black men who die in police custody in the UK, have been black women. Lose them, and we lose the struggle.

My future daughter deserves to grow up in a world where the men who look like her will not pass her over because they ‘need a girl like Kylie Jenner’, but where her features are celebrated just as much as on her body as that of a white woman.

asian prejudice

On Saturday evening, I stretched my legs out after a long day (it was communion at church – beautiful, essential, but well over 2 hours), and decided that I was going to braid my hair. So I threw on the new Zara coat that I’d fought off the animals at Westfield for (Boxing Day sales – don’t do it, save yourself), and ambled down the road to my local hair shop.

I browsed through the different varieties of afro-kinky hair, and settled on one that for some reason was called ‘Cuban Twist’. I snorted at the hair companies that are suddenly touting five different curl creams for natural hair, when a year ago they only sold relaxers, paid for my hair, and left.

On the way home, I started thinking about a conversation I’d had with an Asian friend of mine where we’d briefly spoken about anti-blackness in the Asian community. I thought about my trip to Nepal and the overt prejudice I’d encountered there. And I thought about solidarity.

The relationship between the black and Asian community in the UK has always been somewhat complicated. On the one hand, when my grandparents first came to this country, every brown person, regardless of whether they came from the East or the West Indies, or the African continent was termed ‘black’. Black became a political identity, a supposedly unifying term in the face of rather overt and clearly institutionalized racism. Over time, Asians no longer ‘needed’ black people in order to progress. They developed more economic power than the black community as a whole, and the term black became reserved more or less for those with African descent. As racism became less overt, the need for solidarity diminished.

I remember a few years ago, the tensions between the Black and Asian communities in Birmingham erupted. Some Asian owned shops were damaged, people shouted at each other in the street, there was a public spotlight on something that had been festering for some time. Around that time, a documentary came out, part of which used secret camera to film conversations in the Asian community where they discussed black people. Some people were shocked at the level of prejudice within the Asian community.

Really, there should be no surprise. There are probably a number of reasons as to why there is such a high level of anti-blackness in the Asian community.

Historically, many countries in Asia operate on a caste system, in which skin tone plays a partial role. I was shocked by the level of skin bleaching when I was in Nepal – major brands like L’oreal, Garnier and Vaseline plastered slogans like ‘fair and white’ ‘intense whitening cream’ ‘white beauty’ all over their products. Watch most Bollywood movies and you would swear that Indians exist in one shade of extremely light brown, although any visit to India would tell you the complete opposite. Although there are many black people who are light skinned, and lighter than some Asians – there are more black people who are darker skinned. It’s not surprising then, that the self hatred in terms of skin tone that plagues the Asian community expresses itself in anti-blackness.

Additionally, the images of black people exported to many Asian countries are dominated by white mainstream images. There are of course exceptions, but hip hop culture, ‘oppression’ films (slavery, poor people, black kids being ‘saved’ by the middle class white teacher/person), and skewed depictions of black sexuality probably aren’t helpful in fostering any kind of positivity towards black people.

Not to mention the fact that White supremacy, by nature, is hierarchical.  South Asians have become in the UK, and in America (along with other Asian communities), a ‘model minority’. Ignoring the completely different history of how Europeans operated in Asia in comparison to Africa and the Caribbean, and the overwhelming effort to dehumanise Africans, the Asian community is subtly compared to the black community. The underlying tone is that if the Asian community manages a certain level of economic success, why can’t the Black community do the same? (A form of racism which also ignores the varied communities within the black community. Black Africans and Black Caribbeans have different educational outcomes and social outcomes, which in itself proves the enduring effects of slavery on Caribbean communities).

It is only natural that Asian people will seek to find a way to separate themselves from Black people in a system that rewards anti-blackness. To be Black is to be at the bottom of the pile. And who wants to be at the bottom?

It’s up to the younger generation to challenge the legacy that has been handed down to them, instead of mildly accepting the prejudice of their elders…

Thought? What are your experiences?

inter1

So according to national government statistics, or some sort of group masquerading as some sort of official type conglomerate, 50% of black men in this country and 35% of black women are in relationships or married to people who aren’t black. ETA – people have mentioned that I need to provide links to studies , statistic etc so here they are..(http://www.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/socialchange/research/social-change/summer-workshops/documents/unionsbetweenblacksandwhites.pdf) (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1120963/Ten-cent-UK-children-mixed-race-family.html)

Now I know this is a controversial topic, so I’m gonna start out by apologising to those people who are going to be offended by my opinion. Opinions are like university degrees nowadays – pretty much everyone’s got one, they’re all important in their own right, but some are more useful than others. Mine might be useless to you, that’s cool.

I have to put the same disclaimer at the beginning as I initially put at the end of this piece. I am not against interracial relationships. I am simply discounting the popular narrative that interracial relationships are automatically positive for racial progress. Please re-read that.  Please, please actually read the entirety of what I’ve written instead of jumping on certain things that might rub you the wrong way. Thanks :-).

Looking at the statistics, it’s clear that black people are far and away the only group that dates interracially in such high numbers, especially black men. Most Asian men marry Asian women, most White men marry White women etc. (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/one-in-five-wont-marry-white-1002413http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/one-in-five-wont-marry-white-1002413)

There’s no doubt that it’s becoming increasingly more popular and according to many people, a sign that the people who date interracially are not racist – therefore we are as a society are becoming less racist, that love is colour blind etc. To which I say nonsense, doo-doo, and complete twaddle-wrap.

Firstly, it’s quite obvious that the vast numbers of black men especially dating and marrying outside their race is pathological. The fact that 50% (48% to be exact) of a group of men date or marry outside their race (primarily white women) is a clear sign of some sort of problem within that community, especially when this is not replicated by the vast majority of the male populations of other races. We can bury our heads in the sand and sing Kumbaya choruses and pretend that this is all wonderful and part of Martin Luther King’s dream, but frankly, it’s not, because the reasons why it is occurring in such high numbers are not positive.

1) Black people as a general group have deep seated psychological issues when it comes to self image.

You only have to look at a hip hop video, or a black rom com to see that black people in general idolise beauty standards that are not ‘black’.  A large proportion of  hip hop artists are dark skinned black men. A large proportion of hip hop video models are racially ambiguous. Looking at them, they could be black, they could be Latina or they could be a white brunette with some good fake tan. I know black guys who are as black as a pot of burnt rice who have only dated girls Beyonce’s shade or lighter, and then have the nerve to talk some excrement about ‘preferences’ and how everyone’s entitled to them. Of course you’re entitled to them, but if I’d been systematically brainwashed to believe that beauty was at it’s highest point when it was 5 shades lighter than me, then I think I’d try to revisit my preferences.

How many times have you heard a black person say that they want children with ‘good hair’ or ‘green eyes’? I’ve actually heard black women say they wouldn’t date someone because their hair was too ‘nappy’ (basically too African). This isn’t a small segment of the black population who talks like this, a sizeable amount of us have said or heard someone else make these ridiculous statements at some point.  I’m not sure how the majority of black men or women can be confident that their dating choices aren’t somewhat influenced by the negative images we have of black beauty around us. Little black boys internalise ideals of beauty that tell them the only acceptable form of black is Halle Berry, Beyonce and Rihanna. When they grow up, it doesn’t magically go away. The unhealthy veneration of mixed race people by black people is nothing new, and interracial marriage is only serving to feed this.

2) Many black men and women  who date interracially state that their reasons for doing so are because of issues they have with black men or women, or things that they believe other races of men and women do ‘better’.

If you primarily date black women and happen to fall in love with a white woman, it is entirely different to you spouting generalisations about black women or men as your reason for dating outside your race. “Black men don’t know how to treat a woman”. “Black women have too much attitude”. “Black men can’t handle a successful woman”. “White women are more easy going”. “Asian women know how to treat a man” “Black women don’t wear their real hair”. (Ever considered that black women are just trying to imitate the type of women that black men clearly find more attractive? i.e. Long hair, straight hair or wavy hair?) “Black men are dogs and they all cheat”.

I’ve said this once, and I’ll say it a million times. I know plenty of white girls with attitude. I know plenty of white men who are serial cheaters and treat women like crud. I’m not denying that there aren’t particular attitudes and behaviours that are more common amongst the black community, but a lot of these are to do with class and not race. Black men talk about black women’s apparent attitude, when they only date a particular type of women. I’m sorry that Shaniqua wasn’t wifey material, but have you ever considered that her life circumstances caused her to develop a certain type of attitude to cope? And that if you dated a woman with different circumstances, her attitude would be different? I’m sorry that Tyrone didn’t turn out to be the model boyfriend, but really, you were the one who wanted a Rick Ross lookalike. And you pretty much got a look alike and an act-a-like.

3) Some white women fetishise black men. Some white men fetishise black women.

We (black folk) are a race who seem to suffer from general amnesia. When has the ability of white people to have sex or procreate with us meant that they were no longer racist? Um. Where do you think all the racial mixing in the Caribbean comes from? There a sizeable number of white people who still describe black people as ‘exotic’ ‘exciting’, and rave about ‘chocolate skin’, how good black men are in bed, how black women are more spicy and passionate, how black men are more manly, and how ‘mixed race babies are so cute’.

All these statements are highly problematic and objectifying. What’s even more problematic is that some black men  and women are stupid enough to be flattered by these unhelpful stereotypes, and will go on to date and have children with these people. The offspring of these unfortunate unions often then grow up with defective racial identities and internalised stereotypes about themselves.

I’ve heard the most ignorant and ridiculous nonsense come out of the mouths of white mothers who have mixed race children. I know of people who have had their white wives turn around and call them nigger in the middle of an argument. I know of black women who have married white men only to be disturbed by their deep seated racial prejudices that were not apparent while they were dating them. Just because someone marries someone of another race does not mean they are not racist.

Black people often require very little from the white people they enter into relationships with – ignoring the fact that they have a shallow understanding of black history, white privilege and racial identity. I’ve heard many white mothers being offended when their children are called ‘black’. This shows a woeful ignorance of the politics of race in society and also the shocking lack of care the black man who impregnated these women took in being certain that the mother of their children was going to adequately equip their child to manoeuvre through society.

Many white people are socialised to be racist. They don’t choose to be, they are socialised into it, and many of them have prejudices and stereotypes that cannot simply be erased by having a mixed race child or dating a black person. It takes a significant amount for someone to change thought pattens that have been reinforced from a young age they don’t just disappear because you fancy Tinie Tempah.

4) Mixed race people are being used in popular media to perpetuate erasure of dark skinned black wowen n particular.

It’s quite obvious that presently there is a move for ‘black’ representation to be confined to ‘mixed race’ representation. Most adverts or television shows will have  a mixed race person, or a black person who looks mixed as opposed to a non-mixed looking black person. ( I say looking because phenotype doesn’t have a direct correlation with genotype, and there are any people who identify as black who look ‘mixed’/ or who are technically mixed and vice versa). It is a more palatable and attractive version of black to the general population and to black people. Mixed race black people are a way for companies, magazines, and governments to fulfil a quota of black people whist stating clearly that only a specific type of black is good. The type of black that is mixed with white.  The result is a marginalisation of non-mixed black people, especially women, which is only fuelling a divide between these two groups. I want to clarify, this is not the fault of mixed race people, or of people who marry interracially per se. This is the fault of a system of pigmentocracy that has been present in our community for hundreds of years. What the high levels of interracial marriage does do, is send a direct message to society at large as to how we perceive ourselves, how the relationship between black men and black women is fractured, and perpetuates the hierarchy that has already been created.Ultimately, advertisers, music video directors etc, present what they think will be attractive to the demographic they are targeting. Naturally, if a particular demographic has made it clear about their preferences in terms of attractiveness, they’ll cater to that. If the high levels interracial marriage were occurring outside the context of the historical colorism in the black community and the legacy of slavery, it wouldn’t be at all an issue it would be progress, but because it’s not, it IS an issue. These are cold, hard, unpopular truths.

What I’m not saying:

1)That no one should date or marry interracially.

2)That I will never marry or date interracially. (Although I openly admit that I’m wary, for the reasons I stated above)

3) That mixed race people’s ‘issues’ are any more than other people’s.

4) That mixed race children don’t have the right to self define.

What I am saying:

1) The high levels of interracial marriage are indicative of a deeper community problem.

3)Mixed race identity IS complex and IS something that needs to be discussed more.

4) We cannot love other people positively when we don’t love ourselves.

I hope I’ve generated more light than heat, and I also want to end this piece by saying that in an ideal word, interracial dating would not be a big deal. But in an ideal word there wouldn’t be a system of white, male supremacy. I can’t talk about this issue idealistically because that is not the world we live in.

Peace guys x