Roots of anger start young

Yesterday, I was out with my almost 3 year old daughter and witnessed a rather interesting incident that only reconfirmed to me that the roots of Black anger as it relates to sistas and the fact that the anger starts young.

The girl and I were having one of our Momma and me times at a local cafe here in our small town, it’s a neat cafe especially since it’s owned by a gay interracial (1 partner is Latino, the other is white) couple who has a daughter almost a year younger than the girl. Well we were sitting next to their daughter’s playpen which they keep in the cafe since they work together, their daughter is a cute child, no doubt but as you can imagine she is a white child, not that there is anything wrong with that but I am trying to set the scene here so bear with me.

Anyway cute white child who I will call Z is playing and cooing in her playpen the way almost 2 years olds do, when a middle age white female customer on her way out, walks over to Z’s pit and starts carrying on with how beautiful Z is, yada, yada. Well my daughter, The Girl starts watching the exchange in that way that kids do when they see a kid with something they don’t have, after about 5 mins, middle age woman finally puts a sock in it and heads to the door but not before turning towards towards my daughter who had been intently looking at this exchange and saying you are a cutie too but keeps walking. The way she said it was as an afterthought. It was a what the hell kind of moment, for just a second a strange look flashed on my daughter’s face, yet in that second I knew that expression because even though at almost 3 she can’t articulate it, as a Cocoa brown sista who was attended predominantly white schools, I know that feeling. That feeling that says maybe I am not cute.

Now you may be reading this, thinking come on Black Girl aren’t you reading alot more into this… well  to be honest no, when you have as a whole, a group of people (Black women) who often will do anything to change their looks to fit the expected norm of cultural beauty (hello, relaxer, weave and blond hair on cocoa complected sistas) I don’t think I am reading too much at all.

Its one of the reasons that despite the fact that The Girl’s daddy aka my spousal unit is white, that the girl will never get a white doll from me, shit I look back at my own baby pictures and see me hugged up with a white doll and wonder what the fuck were Moms and Pops thinking.

No, in this society even at a young age the message slowly seeps in that white is the best, white is beautiful and its small exchanges like what I witnessed where in just a moment of time, I saw my daughter question why middle age woman did not treat her like Z, that start the long road to what at 35 or 40 becomes an angry Black woman.

Now off I go to get my iced coffee, until next time.

5 thoughts on “Roots of anger start young

  1. Hey sistha . i hear ya and your points are valid. thank goodness the little lady has a mommy to remind her that she isbeautiful! Black is beautiful and she can be proud ! ashe
    keep you head up mama
    lady soulshine WMPG radio, keep’n it pi in maine!

  2. It is scary how it starts so young. 3 is when children start to not only notice racial, etc differences but to assign value to those differences. Have you read the Anti-Bias Curriculum by Louise Derman-Sparks? It’s old (late 80’s) but still very relevant.

  3. Now you may be reading this, thinking come on Black Girl aren’t you reading alot more into this…

    Only a White person, having lived life in a bubble of White privilege, would think so. They have no clue how just how young it begins that Black girls realize that not only are females judged on their “beauty”, but that the society in which they lives views everything about them, everything they are, as not beautiful.

    I just found your site today from your comment on Raving Black Lunatic, (loved your comment, by the way). I’ll bookmark you!

  4. That’s why we need to reinforce our own standards of beauty…I have had to teach my own sons that same lesson…..about themselves and about their future wives or girlfriends..

    When I started making dolls it became apparent that that lesson did not come a moment too soon.

  5. As a young biracial woman in her 20’s who looks mostly white, I can still relate to this.

    Sometimes other black people were guilty of reinforcing this feeling in me too…esp. the ones who had bought into the notion that some attributes were “better” than others.

    I remember being a little girl with extremely white skin and long puffy hair. I attended private school in the first 10 years of my life with mostly white and Hispanic children. Back then, I noticed that only “white” girls were described as pretty…particularly if they were blonde with blue eyes. Simply put, teachers were nice to them. No one told them they were stupid or funny-looking. I grew up believing that the only way women could be worthwhile is if they were “pure white” and beautiful in the conventional sense. To be white was to be special and beautiful. A girl couldn’t be truly pretty if she was fat, had acne, small breasts, hair that curled up too much, or dark skin. She couldn’t be a minority and be considered pretty…if she was Hispanic, *that* was acceptable because Americans like to pretend that Latinas are like average white girls anyway.

    Attending public schools with black children didn’t help my self-esteem. I didn’t fit in with them either. I was called ugly, mistreated by everyone, and made to feel ashamed of how I looked. It was in middle school that I met my ex, who was African-American. We didn’t start dating until we were both about 16 or 17 but there were problems with that, too.

    His momma did NOT want him to be with somebody like me. She would constantly make snide comments about how light my skin was and behave in a way that I can only describe as openly racist. This was a Black woman who obviously had severe self-esteem issues herself. You mentioned cocoa-brown sistas with blonde hair? Honey, she was it! She considered herself to be “light-skinned” despite being brown and she bleached her (relaxed) hair platinum blond, nearly WHITE…while criticizing me for having naturally fair skin and European features. I’m not with him anymore (and I’m better off), but I know that his mother had some type of mental illness she wasn’t aware of. She was a grown woman in her 50’s and deep down, I could tell that she wanted to be a white woman. She disliked biracial women but she secretly wanted to be one. She was very attractive but I thought of her as ugly after a while based on her attitude. Self-hate is not beautiful.

    His father was a bit nicer about it, but as a Black man, he had his own issues with not accepting African features. He once referred to my hair as “nappy”. I was offended because he had African hair himself! He’d had a daughter out of wedlock with a white woman. He was obsessed with wanting his wife (my ex’s black mother) to be “perfect-looking”. No wonder that woman was so bitchy! She was trying to be his ideal fantasy (a thin white blonde) all the time. She bleached her hair, worked out compulsively, and carried herself like a complete diva. She would disrespect me because she felt threatened by my light skin and white appearance. I wonder how she felt when her son later moved on to a “real” white girl? She wanted to be white, she wanted to be society’s ideal of beauty, and it showed in every aspect of her behavior. Very very sad.

    I can relate to what your little one probably felt that afternoon but it is up to YOU to help her internalize her self-worth. Instill within her the notion that she is beautiful whether or not some insensitive person decides to overlook her. Within my family, the darker children were praised while I was basically made to feel like shit. Most people say it was the other way around in their experiences. That person was simply insensitive to cultural differences, as well as the little things that kids pick up on. I’m engaged to a white man who is 14 years older than myself. I nearly had children with my ex…that in itself is another story.
    Without a doubt, when I marry my fiance and have children, I will brainwash them into knowing how beautiful they are! If somebody decides to dismiss or overlook them, my children will be prepared to deal with that. My heart would have broken if I could’ve seen your daughter that day. And although I’m not a “brown” sista like you, I’m still a sista who can relate to that very real pain and realization of being unworthy and unpretty in society’s eyes. I believe your observation of what happened was 100% spot-on. I had many, many moments like that in my own childhood.

    There was even a time when my ex, myself, his biracial half-sister, and his best friend were all out together. Most people (including some black folks) seem to be unaware that not all biracials have the same hair type. My ex’s friend obviously had a crush on my ex’s sister (who was a bit darker than myself and had curly hair). He made a comment like: “You’re light but she has PRETTY hair”. WTF?! Many black people have allowed themselves to be infected by this nonsense. What is “pretty”? Who defines what it is? Who makes the rules about what is acceptable and what is not? That’s what I want to know.

    Sorry about my VERY long post….I love your writing, though. I’m moving to Maine in about 5 years. Maybe we can have lunch? 🙂

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