Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Color-Struck" Folk

I don't know how many people outside the Black community understand the term "color struck," but I met some people yesterday who need their pick in some dictionary next to the words.

Color struck people are those who have a sort of self-hate for their blackness. It's not hard to spot these folk. They are the ones who shuck and grin the minute they see someone white, light-skinned or with "good" hair. Put them in a crowd with 40 intelligent, friendly, decent people and they will only gravitate toward the ones lighter than themselves. Usually they make fools of themselves.

Yesterday, we had a h.s. grad party for one of my nieces. My niece is bi-racial (Native Alaskan and African-American) and she is light-brown skinned with long, straight hair. She's cute. What can I say? All my nieces and nephews are cuties - the dark and lighter ones - and I never think much about their racial heritage. Until I meet a color struck Negro like the one I met yesterday.

This woman walks in (late) to the party. We are scattered around the house and yard with kids and adults all having a great time. I'm sitting there on the deck with a family friend (white), my sis-in-law (Inupiat), my nephew (black), one niece (bi-racial), and the graduating niece (bi-racial) is standing right at my shoulder.

This woman's daughters were already at the party. Nice girls. Beautiful girls. I mean, these girls could be models. I teased them about being such "pretty girls." Their brother - a nice-looking and sweet-natured young guy - dates my niece (the bi-racial niece) and is out of the state for a while. Their dad was there. Nice guy, mingled and seemed to be enjoying himself discussing grill techniques with my brother and my nephew, teasing my niece about her drink-making skills. Having fun with everyone.

The woman shows up & I'd never met her before. I noticed though that she resembled the cute young sisters of my niece's boo. I smiled and welcomed her by introducing myself as "T's" auntie. "You must be ___'s mom," I said. My sis-in-law, sitting next to me confirms this and tells the mom my name and then introduces my other niece and my nephew.

This woman looks PAST me, PAST my nephew (who is the host, by the way), and just about KILLS herself raving over my older niece. "Oh! I saw you at the graduation ceremony! Your hair was different so I almost didn't recognize you..." (She's touching my niece's hair as she says this.)

I glance over at my sis-in-law who is just smiling and watching this like, WTF?...But, no biggie. I sat there another couple of moments while this woman skinned and grinned at all my bi-racial family members and never once again looked at me or my nephew.


I got up and wandered back into the dining room and mouthed to my sister and a friend (both black, of course), "Color-struck alert.) The dining room has a view of the deck so they'd already noticed.

After a couple of minutes, Miss Thang eventually made her way to the dining room where we had the food set up. I couldn't be rude, so I pointed out where the paper plates and all were. "Help yourself," I said.

Still being polite, I then offered to introduce her to the rest of the table. She told me her name and I did the intros. She started fixing a plate and I left that woman a.l.o.n.e.


It's been a long time since I've seen such ignorance. And this is a woman with grown children. This is a woman from the South. This is a woman with cornrowed hair and skin as dark as mine. This is a woman with a job and life experience.

I told my sister that now we know why this family had kind of glommed onto my niece from the get-go. I mean, taking her on family vacations, buying her expensive gifts and acting like their world will end if she ever breaks up with their son... I guess they have hopes the kids will marry and pro-create and bleed some of the darkness out of the family blood.

Good thing I was too tired to care as much. I'd had a long night before and that day was long enough. I made my excuses and took my tired behind up to catch a nap. Two Pina Colada's and a dose of Black Ignorance will do that to ya!

**smh** and **singing**: "We shall overcome... some day...."