By Yolanda Jacobs
I’ve received notifications about it in e-mails and read about it on Facebook statuses. The new talk is the upcoming documentary Dark Girls. Until last night, I hadn’t viewed the trailer, because I didn’t feel a need to do so. I already know this story. Not so much from personally experiencing the harsh color-based words, but from hearing them used to label my siblings. From what I’ve seen, the documentary is a commendable effort, one not lost on me. At the same time, it serves as a chilling reminder of how far we’ve taken our “regression strategy.”
As I stated in an e-mail response to a friend:
“Too much of what transpires in the black community is beyond belief when we take into account that it seems the same issues continue to be at the forefront decade after decade. It’s like reading Carter G. Woodson’s book,The Miseducation of the Negro, and realizing we’re still, over 50 years later, conducting ourselves the same way we were when he published it—and in some ways we’ve gotten worse. We haven’t progressed as well as we could have because, in many ways, we’ve been our own impediment. Yes, racial inequality, human rights transgressions and the like have played a great role, but for those of us who KNOW the deal, what have we really done to resolve these issues?
“Growing up, I remember one specific aunt who would ridicule my sister and brother because of their darker skin. My sister developed a serious complex behind it. I used to get so angry at my aunt for doing that that I would forget she was an older relative and fling rocks at her. That’s how upset she would make me, and it was the only way I could think to protect my siblings from her harsh words. The crazy thing about it is that she was darker than both of them. Now, who passed that on to her? It surely wasn’t my grandmother, because she loved some dark-skinned men and proved that by marrying one after the other.
“When I was stationed in Korea, I remember a train ride that took me deep into some of the Korean villages. Many of the Koreans living within those villages had never seen a black person up close. Do you know that quite a few walked up to me, offered me some of their food and reached out to touch my face? At first, I thought they were trying to attack me, they were so forward. One English-speaking Korean relayed to me that they were saying I had the most beautiful skin they’d ever seen. They were bowing and smiling broadly at me. I got treated like royalty the entire train ride, with them offering drinks and snacks repeatedly although I’d turned them down earlier. I still have a beautiful set of hand-painted chopsticks an elderly Korean lady insisted I take. Coming from Louisiana and being accustomed to the racially based remarks from whitesandblacks, this was definitely an experience, especially considering we’d been led to believe we were hated and thought to be ugly around the world.
“If we want the world to change how it sees us, we have to change. This change has to come from within. We were first destroyed from within before anyone was able to destroy us from the outside. It was W. Durant who said, ‘A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.’ That is our history, in a nutshell. Will we get it right in our lifetime? I’m not too sure because, for one, we’re too busy being the only ones dedicated to the practice of multiculturalism yet running away as fast as we can from the practice of black cultural unity.”
Until black people get it right, there’ll always be a need for documentaries likeDark Girls. In the same token, Carter G. Woodson’s book will remain relevant to our current time, whether it be 2011 or 2021, and so will the words of many writer scholars who came before us. We’ll continue to be the same story, because we have refused to change. And, to some extent, because we don’t know we need to change or because we think we are changing and that we are getting better. Nothing more than illusion that thought, but a thought nonetheless.
Self-hatred runs deep, and self-haters are known for transferring their hatred onto others. It’s how we adopted the thought process that we needed straight weave, perms, makeup, thinner lips, pointier noses, lighter skin and less ass. It’s also how we got to be so damn multicultural that we haven’t even noticed that we practice it to a greater degree than any other group of people, yet we benefit the least from it.
A crystal-ball glimpse into the world of modern-day blacks reveals an inner turmoil that is so dark, so mentally unstable that it’s no wonder a total implosion hasn’t yet taken place. Those who want their conditions to change are outnumbered every day by those who are satisfied, complacent or too afraid to disrupt the status quo. So, as a whole, we continue to practice our regression strategy. The one that makes us less threatening. The one that builds up other groups of people at the expense of destroying us. The one that convinces us that we must keep each other in our place, even if it means name-calling, backstabbing, killing and bickering.
It is that strategy that keeps all black movements, protests, books, articles, documentaries and movies in a repetitious cycle and state of relevancy. It is that strategy that leads us to always display the negative of who we are, if it means being noticed. To indulge in it, savor it and not want to let it go for fear our instituted pity party might come to an end, and then we’ll be left holding the bag of responsibility, which we should have held long ago. We don’t want to have to get off our asses and do something. That’s what we’ve had other groups for, despite them placing their foots on our necks as payment. We don’t mind being less, if someone else is willing to do more. We carry on in ways we know are not beneficial to us, because it prolongs that inevitable day. The day when it won’t matter about the latest documentary or sensational media story that adds to the stigmatization of blacks, because we’ll be forced to have to do as was said long ago: shit or get off the pot.