Sunday, July 27, 2008

Put the damn brown paper bags away.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


"You can't get shit in this world as a black man unless you one of them high-yellow niggas that got good hair...like him," said the guy who owns the barbershop I go to the other day. People chuckled, but I was too preoccupied with my Blackberry to realize who he was referencing. I took a break from the email I was drafting, glanced up and say everyone in the room looking at me.

"What?!? That's fucking bullshit," I responded.

"Nigga, if we both go outside and a cop walks by, he's gonna fuck with me before he'd fuck with you cus you a high-yellow nigga -- a house nigga," he replied back still edging up the person in his chair. "I tell my son to hate ya'll light-skinned cats."

I put down my Blackberry; he had my attention.

"A house nigga?!? Really?!? In 2008?!? We're still talking about being "in the house" because of the color of my skin?!? You're being so fucking ridiculous right now."

He turns to another barber, "This lil nigga, on [my son's] football team is light and pretty just like that. I tell [my son] to fuck that light-skinned nigga up every chance he gets. But you ain't no house nigga though. I don't know what you is. You ain't even black. What you Dominican or some shit?"

"Nah," interjects the guy who cuts my hair as he puts finishing touches on the kid he's cutting, "that nigga Mexican or Puerto Rican or Colombian or some shit, nigga." People snickered, but I didn't.

"You ready, Juan Carlos?" asks my barber with a grin. It was my turn to get in the chair and when he was done I went on my way.

Driving home I thought about a lot of things. I wondered why black people consistently stigmatize each other and pull each other down like crabs in a barrel based on stupid shit like the color of my skin in relation to that of another black person. I thought about what on a macro level led us to this type of conversation and why in 2008 a man is teaching his son to dislike another black kid based strictly on the fact that he has lighter skin.

In its recent "Black in America" documentery, CNN referenced "colorism" -- a form of discrimination in which human beings are accorded differing social and treatment based on skin color. I intially dismissed it as an overexageration of something that happens on occassion to a very small number of blacks. Then I got a taste of it for myself.

Is this an isolated event involving a simple idiot or pervassive underlying issue in Black America. What's your take?

20 comments:

fuzzy said...

I really don't know what to say to this! Who does this? I have never been referenced to like this, so I wouldn't have any experience to share!

I do witness the pulling of each other, preventing our advancement as a people! Its the single and simple-mindedness of people like your barber that enable this mentality. That would be my last trip to that barber!

Joey Bahamas said...

It's both. I can't believe he said he tells his son to beat up another black person, or anyone for that matter, because his skin color is lighter. That said, for some on both sides of the color spectrum there is a kind of rift within the larger black community between darker and lighter skinned people. It is shored up by a history of separation and differential privilege.

Cash S. said...

It's definitely an underlying issue within the Black community. Its always been thought that light-skin blacks have it "easier" than dark-skin blacks. You would think in '08 it wouldn't be an issue, but it still creeps up every once in a while.

bLaQ~n~MiLD said...

HOLY SHIT!!! Jones you KNOW you should've called me about this! This falls in line with some of the things we were conversing about a couple weeks ago. My take...? "Pervasive underlying issue" (one of many) that continues to imprison Black Americans in this country!

As you well know I am not a fair skin brother, however, I actually had one of my cousins pull the 'house nigga' card on me a couple years ago! Given the level of ignorance that is prevalent in my family, I didn't waste my time digging him a new ass hole but it is scary that these individuals are able to procreate and foster these ignorant thoughts w/in their offspring.

~Damnit!

La said...

Oh wow.

No sir. This is not an isolated event of any kind. This is pretty much the everyday story of my life. Now imagine if you really WERE some other shit too AND you lived in the south AND you were a woman for whom this shit is infinitely more prevalent. BOO.

And teaching your kid to hate? What an idiot asshole you are.

18/yo/m. said...

Should have told him it didn't matter.
At the end of the day, in the eyes of white America, you're nigger just like the rest of them.

It's funny to me that dudes that have that very same bias as far as skin color, will run and fall over to open the door for a high yellow brawd with long hair and will find no problem clowning the dark sista with natural hair.

Damn shame, really.

tdh1980 said...

Funny you should mention this because I was just discussing the same thing with some friends over dinner last night, the agreement being that lighter-skinned brothers tend to have it easier when it comes to certain things.

Look at the major network news programs for instance. Most of the black dudes who serve regularly as hosts, anchors, and correspondents have fairer complexions -- Lester Holt (NBC), Russ Mitchell (CBS), Ron Claiborne (ABC), and most of the guys at CNN (TJ Holmes, Don Lemon, and Tony Harris just to name a few). The two men of color who have come closest to the U.S. presidency, Obama and Powell (though the latter only theoretically), are of the lighter persuasion. There has even been a media study done that found that darker-skinned black males are more often cast as criminal perpetrators in TV dramas.

It's quite clear that we still suffer the psychological ramifications of the Willie Lynch, divide-and-conquer method, as evidenced by your wholly inappropriate and uncalled-for barbershop experience. Furthermore, anyone who harbors that type of animosity toward any one group of people needs to seek help. However, I can't escape the feeling that society at-large remains complicit in perpetuating these types of racial issues, despite the fact that we should know enough as a people by now to simply "get over it."

Mr. Jones said...

Good discussion here, guys. I'll read and respond later tonight when I get home.

This guy is too much.

RocaFella07 said...

I'd have to agree with Fuz.

BTW, i hate people who are like those barbers...I'm just DONE!

;-)

Darius T. Williams said...

Definitely a bit of both - but it's barbershop banter. Really, some barbers can only do one thing good - and that's cut hair. I hate to stereotype barbers, so I won't.

I think a more important question is, you didn't give him your money - did you?

That Dude Right There said...

I'm with Darius on this one. People talk in the barbershop about nothing. That's why I walk in, get my hair cut, and walk out. I'm not there for the conversation.

And yes, there is an underlying withing the Black community. It always has been since Massa used our complexion to keep us separated.

ShawnQt said...

barbershops can be so ignorant, but it is like a freedom of expression for these guys.

I have a personal barber now, lol.

soulbrotha said...

Rent School Daze, chile.

DJ_ Host of Da Doo-Dirty Show said...

I agree... but that has been the way were are since slavery days... I will discuss more on Thumping Thursday on Da Doo-Dirty Show. Great topic by the way... especially after that cerade of a special "Black In America".. WHat a crock!

Mr. Jones said...

Fuzzy - I understand. If I wasn't so particular about who cuts my hair I'd be through with that place. LoL.

Joey - Interesting. Thanks for the feedback.

Cash - Damn shame, ain't it???

Blaq - Scary indeed.

La - Yikes! Oh, and when are you bringing yo ass to Bmore??? We need to have drinks...lots of em!

Mr. Jones said...

18 - I love how you grace us with a bit of profoundness every once in awhile.

And you are so right about that still a nigger thing.

tdh - What's the deal with that? Do I not notice it because I am fair skinned? Like, I NEVER think about the color of my skinn vis-a-vis someone else's.

Roc - I hear you, man.

Mr. Jones said...

Darius - Believe it or not this isn't the most ignorant shit I've heard there. Oh, and this wasn;t my barber talking the foolishness. It was the guy who owned the place.

TDRT - I usually do, too, but he brought me into the mix by calling me out.

Shawn - Does your personal barber do your pubes, too?

Soul - Ummm...ok.

DJ - What about it did you feel was most crockish?

tdh1980 said...

To answer your question, the way people are raised or socialized is what informs their opinions or observations regarding such matters. For me, a large part of it is my education. My degree is in film and media theory and criticism, so I'm constantly, whether intentionally or not, analyzing images of blacks that I see on a regular basis in all media.

BPS 2.0 said...

1) The paper bag test still exists due to the passing of it from generation to generation.

2) Sadly we have to work twice as hard in the world to be average but work five times harder to matter to our own people.

3) Black people hate on other's glory but don't know their story. So let them hate and don't reserve time for idiots. Let them wallow in it. The light skinned boy that gets hit all the time by the dark skinned kid will end up stronger as a result.

a rare gem-ini said...

holy hell you kept self control...me being a light man myself...and a militant graduate of Howard U.....the debate woulda been ON...falling on deaf ears im sure....but still woulda made me feel better gettin some things out there! lol

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