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Facebook, Black Self-Hatred and "Colorism"

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LeBron James vs Steph Curry. Denzil Washington vs Eddie Murphy et al. These days "blackness and colorism" are all the rage. You hear distressing conversations among Black people about "light-skin" versus "dark skin" as if these pigmentation variants determine the extent to which someone is "black." And social media, in particular Facebook, has only helped to reinforce these stereotypes. The mental vestiges of the Black slave past is hard to shake and manifests itself in ugly self-hate when Black woman and men believe that the measure of individual success, and to be accepted in society, is all about how "white or light" they can become.

The utter stupidity of this position, apart from exposing the basal nature of Black self-hate, is the futility of bleaching and altering skin tones to obfuscate one's Black genetic predisposition. That's because no amount of make-up or use of skin bleaching substances will every change the fact that if you were "born Black" you will die black -- not matter how much you try to alter that fundamental appearance to "look white." Still, skin bleaching is not unique or special to the Black community -- African American and Caribbean. Today it is big business, a billion dollar industry, in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and elsewhere where dark skinned people, running away from their genetic history, are bleaching their skin to become more "lighter" and thus more "acceptable" to white society.

This neo-colorism is the result of self-hatred, a pervasive inferiority complex, and low-self esteem in the "oppressed classes" and their identification with the oppressor. By embracing the cultural, societal and other attributes learned by centuries of being told that "you are worthless" Black people consciously and unconsciously hate their Black pigmentation and see it as an impediment to success. They secretly wished they were white. It is a position reinforced in the United States in almost every aspect of Black life that is always seeking justification and validation from whites.

For example, in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Lebron James, the greatest basket baller of his generation is vilified and held to a far different standard than shooting maestro Steph Curry who "looks white" and is more accepted by the white mainstream media. I'm not here suggesting that Steph Curry has not embraced his Black cultural heritage or identifies as white. The fact is that Black people come in many, many different shades and hues. So that light skin does not make one "less Black" likewise dark skin makes one "more Black." Nobody can call Malcolm X "less Black" because of his light skin tone or assume that Martin Luther King and Marcus Garvey were "more Black" because of theirs.

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In today's sports world, dominated by the largely white mainstream media, a tall, intimidating Black man and "complete, all round great basket baller" who could arguably obliterate a Steph Curry in a one-on-one match up, is castigated at every turn while the other, through no fault of his own, gets a free pass. Lebron James has set aside $48 million for an education program for poor young and disadvantaged Black children to go to college. Little or no media coverage. He's married to his childhood sweetheart and not given to the "normal" philandering of successful basketball players. No commendation. He's carried more of the weight for his team than all other NBA players combined. But he's a crybaby.

That kind of Black self-hatred -- a lashing out at dark skinned people and a preference for "light skin," is a not a new thing. It used to be that Black kids with straighter "white" hair had "good hair" while those with "curly, kinky hair" had "bad or N***er hair." Today, the Black community is one of the biggest consumers of hair straightening as well as skin bleaching products. Indeed, the preference for "light skinned or brown skinned" Black people is rooted in the slave past. Their light skin came from the rape and/or cohabitation of Black female "house slaves" with their white owners. Black skinned slaves mainly worked in the fields and did not have access to the "Massa" as these women who worked in the house and in the kitchen. Over time, these Mulatto children, the bastard spawn of the forced or consensual cohabitation between Black female kitchen and house help and their "Massa," came to look down on and hate their dark skinned brethren -- a situation that manifests itself today with the social "preference" throughout American industry for "light skinned" Black people. Ah, how I remember Martin Luther King about "content of your character and not skin color."

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But let me switch to Facebook/Social Media as part of this narrative since I'll deal with this issue more in depth in future articles.

Every day I get the urge to cut or unfriend some Black people on my Facebook page because of their unnecessary and elitist sermonizing as if they have a direct telephone line and number to their big father in heaven. Facebook has become their religious/church pulpit. It's their stupid misuse and lack of understanding of social media in general, and Facebook in particular, that was and is an Internet platform created and designed to promote and encourage "conversations" between "friends." That's it. Your "personal relationship" with your God is not my business or anybody's -- that's why it's personal. Moreover, I don't bloody well care. So please don't shove your "blessings" down my throat -- I might choke. But you know the type - arrogant, self-serving, and seeking validation from all of us because "they are truly blessed."

They alone. They have the inside track to God. They alone speak to him and for him. Every Sunday. Whining, griping, begging, cajoling and selfish. Praying for EVERYTHING on the day they said, "God rested." Then arrogantly assume that they alone are "blessed and highly favored!" What a delusional species!

Likewise, there are those with the wide-eyed "celebrations of life" behavior who nauseatingly keep telling us -- on and on and on - how amazing their husbands, children or wives, are and post a gazillion photos of ugly little Junior or Janice all dressed up in a bizarre 50-something year old's perverse version of "playing dolly house." This behavior comes with a full manual of "parenting by Polly" a holier-than-thou set of parenting techniques compliments these "super successful mums and dads." Yeeeech! Then there are those who give you a daily account of their dietary habits -- with photos, produce, recipes and all. An idiotic set of miniscule observations destined to drive you coo-coo. So from birth to death people are exposing every facet of their daily lives like never before. I say the age of privacy is dead and gone! There are also the "photo updates" of photo shopped images that EVERYBODY likes and comments about how "beautiful" these people are. I feel the vomit coming up!

Finally, there is the backside and the sh*t posture and squatting photos augmented and enhanced thanks to Photoshop and other media friendly photo editing apps that create a warped and distorted appearance of women trying to outdo each other in unbridled narcissism and vapid showoffism. I am always trying to fathom the level of insecurity or craving for validation that drive this peonistic behavior. This kind of self-indulgent promotionalism, Facebook boasting, I suspect, is based on a chronic and epidemic lack of self-esteem. When women have to augment and enhance their backsides to get noticed that tells you something! Then they'll turn around an accuse men of objectifying them!

So now every mother is the greatest, every child, poop and all, is the cutest, and every Creature from the Black Lagoon is blessed -- AND highly favored. Oh brother! To be fair I'm not against some self-promotion and I believe that people should blow or toot their own horns. And I also believe that all of us Homo Sapiens do possess the capacity to love ourselves, ergo, we all have narcissistic impulses built into our systems. But where this gets really skewered is when this love of self and corresponding self-promotion becomes unreal, fantasy-driven, larger than life, cosmetic, and extreme, consuming large chunks of people's daily lives. Then this self-serving phenomenon becomes dangerous and truly self-destructing.

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Thus, I don't want to hear just how exclusively "blessed your are" or "how highly favored you are." Those are just a set of words slammed together. They are meaningless without ACTION. You can SHOW us just how blessed you are by being sensitive to others, by having just a bit of humility, and becoming less self-centered and self-serving, and more people- serving. You can do a lot by developing the practice of creative thinking and not mindlessly posting variants of a developing issue/story (remember EVERYONE changing their profile photo to the French Tri-color during the Charlie Hebro massacre and becoming "I Am Charlie Hebro?"). At the time of writing this article everyone was trying to outdo each other by "sharing" their own versions of Muhammad Ali's life and death.

But let me be clear: my belief that Social Media, especially Facebook, is responsible for dumbing down people many not be shared by everyone. Its just that I don't care how many humanitarian causes that you gave to in 2001, what you ate last Sunday, which politician that you hate, and if you believe the earth is flat or the moon made of Swiss cheese. All of that is basically irrelevant to me, even harmless, though tiresome. But where this becomes particularly dangerous is when hundreds and thousands of people follow along without first RESEARCHING these fallacies and bogus claims for themselves.

With the advent of Social Media we've become a gullible, malleable, and supine species willing to out source our very thoughts. We climb soapboxes that we never built and then look stupid, as a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car, and wax perplexed and confused when confronted with a dissenting or opposing viewpoint. The upshot? People see a pretty photo atop all kinds of claims and packaged falsehoods sold as "facts and truth" and it's bought -- hook, line and sinker. And then "friends" share it again and again. Soon 20,000 people will believe that the moon is made of Swiss cheese and pigs can fly. When faced with the truth the conversation always starts with "well I heard somewhere that"." And "I saw a Facebook post that so and so said""

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)
 

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