I know the light-skinned coalition will send me a barrage of emails on this one…
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Years ago, I went out with a guy who was a proud Louisianan, born and raised. He also identified as Creole versus “just black”, as he said, and passionately talked about the history of Creoles. I was happy to see someone so invested in their history, but, on the other hand, as a student of African-American Studies, his near worship of Creoles made me uncomfortable. To me, the advent of Creoles represented a sector of blacks who were trying to gain some sort of white privilege and eventually failed, especially during Jim Crow. I remember reading accounts of Creoles shouting they weren’t a nigger and good white folk letting them know, “You are the worse kind of nigger because you think you are better than other niggers.”
On one of our few dates he told me I looked Creole. I immediately said, "I don’t look any bit of Creole." He tried to explain I looked like “old world blood”. What the hell is that you ask? Well, I asked the same thing… he said according to my features, skin tone and hair texture that I, “looked like someone who comes from a history of Creoles versus new world blood who just became Creole because of one Creole parent.” I guess Beyonce would be considered new world blood!
He explained how he looked more like “new world blood” and he wished he looked more “old world”. The self-hating light-skinned man was wearing my old world soul. I felt like I was transported to some bayou plantation in 1825 and just got done picking cotton with a slave who was hustling to get in the house. “Old world” and “new world” blood were terms I never heard before and I wondered if it was consistent with the Creole tradition or just his family.
Attempting to change the subject, I asked if his parents knew he was gay—he said yes and they were not happy about it. Then I asked how his parents would react if he brought home a guy to Louisiana. He said this, something I will never forget, “Actually, my parents would be happier if I brought home a guy who looked like you versus a dark-skinned black woman.” I was shocked.
“You mean they would rather you be gay then be with someone dark-skinned?” I asked. He said it was true and agreed that it was crazy. I thought having a Creole-looking partner was about children, but he explained it was more about perception. Never would I have thought in any black American culture that being dark-skinned would trump being gay.
On the other hand, I know someone who was never attracted to dark-skinned men (he once told me the ones he met just smelled “different”), but now he only likes dark-skinned men—and he bragged about as if it was an accomplishment. However, transferring your prejudices from dark to light is not an accomplishment… it’s the same baggage in a different city.
I will never be able to understand racialized preferences within black people. It’s one of the saddest and blatant examples of internalized hate. It transcends class, gender and in some cases, even sexuality.
Labels: LIGHT-SKINNED FOLK, Race
Posted by Clay ::
10:30 AM ::