A little local color consciousness

English: Curtis Mayfield performing for Dutch ...
English: Curtis Mayfield performing for Dutch televisie in 1972 Nederlands: Curtis Mayfield tijdens een televisieoptreden in Nederland in 1972 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I just took part in a discussion on the Black Unbelievers Facebook page about color consciousness. A young woman talked about an African-American co-worker who is ashamed of her complexion and may be passing along her values to her children. She has said that she does not want them becoming involved with dark skinned people. In fact she encourages them to stay out of the sun during the summer. My response was that this is a woman with a deep self hatred and that there are volumes about this topic.


I googled the term color consciousness in the African-American community and lots of books came up. I also remember that Marlon Riggs was very interested in the topic. Song writers like Nina Simone and Curtis Mayfield sang very movingly about this subject. It was no surprise that they were also very dark skinned. My sister told me you’ve got to play the hand that you’ve been dealt.


African-Americans have had difficulty accepting that concept as we continually attempt to lighten our complexion, straighten our hair and reshape our features to look more like the dominant culture in our society.

In this blog I usually deal with mental illness and rejecting one’s color represents a singular type of distress. If you look in the mirror and see yourself as lighter than you really are, that will impact everything you do. At times I have spent a lot of my time with white people, not because I wanted to be like them but because we shared certain ideas about how society should be changed. At the same time, I was not a part of the black church which cut me off from a large segment of the community. I believe that my life is more balanced and I can share what I have learned with others the way I did tonight with the Black Nonbelievers.


English: This drawing (pencil on a4 paper) dep...
English: This drawing (pencil on a4 paper) depicts singer, pianist and civil rights activist Nina Simone in the mid- to late sixties, the high-point of her commercial career. Her hair style (she was one of the first artists to publicly wear an afro) and emotive, slightly agressive expression are illustrative of her character at the time. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




One thought on “A little local color consciousness

  1. I had the pleasure of going to a Nina Simone concert in London twenty years ago. All I can say is what a powerful beautiful woman, proud of who she was, is and it was one of the most moving concerts that stays with me even till this day. I teach my children to embrace all cultures and enjoy the richness every human adds to this earth. Great piece.


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