May 19, 2010

Category: Real Talk, TV/Film

Wannabes & Jigaboos

Conceited. Pretty. Entitled. Ignored. Ugly. Marginalized. The Wannabes versus The Jigaboos is a psychosocial battle of the Light-skinned versus the Dark-skinned. Cafe au lait, high yella, and red boned on one side. Chocolate, ebon, and tar baby on the other.

It’s so crazy illogical to me that in 2010, even with a happily married and madly inspiring wannabe President and jigaboo First Lady, we still don’t see that Black is Black is Black. No matter how light or how dark, Black folks are still subjugated, exoticized, shot, raped and imprisoned more than white folk. And because of these reasons and so many more we each have, regardless of shade, our own issues, our own insecurities, hang-ups and struggles.

To this end we usually (and stereotypically) hear how females are affected by colorism— especially dark-skinned sisters who are bombarded by glamorous images of women like Halle Berry in movies, Michael Michele on TV, Liya Kebede in magazines and Beyonce in music videos. No doubt colonization, slavery and racism linger in our brain cells and bloodstream far longer than they do in history. And so the saga continues: Light is right and we desire to look more like our oppressors than our ancestors. We all have to be re-educated in order to respond differently, intelligently, proudly. And this education has to happen at home. Looking at Anderson Cooper’s feature on CNN on Monday night about skin color, I was reminded of how easy it is for self-hatred to take hold of our young brown babies if they aren’t taught to love themselves. Self-esteem has to be instilled y’all.

But dark-skinned girls are not alone in the struggle to be understood. My fairer toned sisters have their own complexes, issues and beefs. In light of Lena Horne’s transition last week I watched many of her interviews and was emboldened by her dignity to act supremely despite knowing her scenes would later be removed for Southern consumption. Hearing her tell Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes that she wouldn’t dare try to pass filled my spirit with unspeakable job: “It never occurred to me to be anything than what I was.”

Last week I also interviewed Sanaa Hamri, the music video/ film director who just helmed “Just Wright.” Sanaa, who is fair in complexion, struggles to find balance between Hollyweird’s obsession for images of Black buffoonery and with hiphop’s obsession for girls that look like Cassie: “When I used to do music videos I fought long and hard about the female leads I would use. I’m mixed and so I think I’m more sensitive to showing the richness of our many skin tones. You know the fascination with light-skinned girls that have that look is not a problem exclusive to NBA players.”

All of these realizations swooned and swirled in my head and reminded me of Jessica care Moore’s poem, “Even The Light Skinned Girls Are Sick of The Light Skinned Girls.” Less indictment and more insurrection, this poem is a cathartic revolutionary release of Wannabe/Jiggaboo anguish, aggravation and angst. Some salve for our beautiful Black messed-up selves.

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8 Responses to “Wannabes & JigaboosComment RSS feed

  • MML
    May 20th, 2010 10:08 am

    keep writin! your voice is so f’kn on! sharper & sharper…

  • sharon
    May 20th, 2010 10:57 am

    great post, nicole!

  • Bilqis
    May 20th, 2010 12:50 pm

    Wannabe President & Jiggaboo First lady is priceless!! LMAO Nic!! It’s sad but true that our people still have this hang-up. I was blessed to have a family that thought I was beautiful and had me gassed up thinking the same thing without any care or concern for color. Even though my grandmother would say crazy crap like when you date, date lighter to brighten up your race! (Mind you she’s a little wannabe who married a jiggaboo making a rainbow spectrum of offspring!!) I still managed to be okay with my get down honey brown complexion. Unfortunately that changed up somewhere around puberty when I started noticing boys and noticing they seemed to notice my light-skinned good haired sisters more than me. It made me question my beauty and struggle for a long hard minute. I even adopted my own version by preferring to date light skinned men because they seemed to appreciate my shade a little more than darker brothers. I’ve since grown and got back to loving who I am but I’ll have to admit there is still an underlying current that still gets sparked every now and then. I’d honestly say that the only thing that keeps me from having real issues with it is that I have so many amazing light skinned women in my life that I love with all my heart for the spirit of who they are as people. I can also see their beauty without it being a threat to my own. I’ve also seen that they have their own struggles to with not being seen as black enough or wondering who’s digging them for who they are or just what they look like. We all got our issues.

  • Tiffany
    May 20th, 2010 2:06 pm

    Good one!!!

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

  • Julia C.
    May 20th, 2010 3:23 pm

    Funny, your spot-on post comes on the heels of me viewing “When Big Lips Don’t Work.”

    I guess addressing colorism’s is the air. Keep it up.

  • Karen
    May 24th, 2010 10:05 pm

    Bravo Nic. As a dark kinky haired sister I gave birth to a light wavey haired child and am always mistaken for her nanny. It’s crazy to me the feelings that this has brought up in me. I do find their reactions funny though after they find out I’m her mom.

  • theHotness
    May 26th, 2010 1:39 pm
    Author's Reply

    @EVERYONE: THANK YOU so very much for the compliments and the love for my blogging!!! It never fails to make me feel better.

    @Bilqis: Great points. All of of perceptions and mis-perceptions begin at home. We are taught, however subliminally, to love and hate ourselves. My best friend growing up was bi-racial. I honestly never saw her as better than me. I liked her hair until one day I tried to come through the thick tangly curly heap and realized that ish was even more complicated than my kinky curly ponytails. We both suffered discrimination. Me from the boys in my elementary school and she, initially, from her birth mother. It’s tough for all Black girls and loving ourselves and each other is surely the beginning to ease that pain.

    @Julia: That was an interesting article!

    @Karen: Wow,my friend wrote about that for theHotness some years ago. A great article that I will forward to you. Stereotypical on some many levels!

  • Girl
    July 12th, 2010 10:11 pm

    Good writing! Something to think about..