April 11, 2011

Reflections: Light Skinned Girls; Homophobia in Hip Hop

Each month, we highlight some of the reflective posts of our work study students. Unedited, they blog about observations, experiences and thoughts about diversity in their lives as seen through their lenses.

Reflection from Ariel:
To Put It Lightly

Lately I’ve seen a lot of these ridiculous pages on Facebook and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I’m talking about the racy ones entitled “I <3 Light Skinned Girls!” and “Light Skinned Girls Are the Best.” Don’t even ask me how I found these pages but trust me it wasn’t out of vanity and let’s just say I was appalled by what I found on them. Basically they are just continuing to repeat very popular stereotypes of light skinned/mixed-race women: Exotic, Identical. Artificial, and Superficial. The majority of these pages interestingly enough are posted by men who feel the need to put up risqué pictures of famous women such as Meaghan Good and Rosa Acosta who only share one thing in common, light skin. Men find that attractive for apparently all the wrong reasons and it apparently infuriates others to start petty hate groups such as “Light Skinned Girls Are Evil.”

As a light skinned young woman I always feel as if I always have to be conscious of what I say around people when it comes to talking about my appearance in terms of my skin tone. Sometimes I feel that I cannot say I like my completion because then people will take it the wrong way. I may sound cliché but beauty really does come in all different shades. I’m just trying to embrace my own. Can’t we just all get along? In our society why do we attribute skin in the first place to non tangible concepts such as a person’s worth, intelligence and especially to beauty?

You can’t escape it. Our American culture has been infested with superficial messages which indirectly hit us from other avenues such as music. The first example that pops into my head is Lil Wayne’s song which debuted in 2009 entitled “Every Girl.” When you watch the music video which has an array of women who represent different ethnicities, body types and skin tones one would assume the lyrics would be just as diverse. Sorry to get your hopes up for those who haven’t listened to the song yet but the first words that come out of his mouth are, “Uh, I like a long hair thick red-bone.” But then again the song is talking about men who are trying to sleep with practically every girl in the world, not praising all of the women in the world.

This concept, however, goes way back, way before for people were practicing colorism on public forums. Even further back before southern rappers were first praising redbones, yellow bones and light bights. To a time where “paper bag tests” and “comb tests” was serious business, determining ones fate or existence. It is something that is so deeply rooted in our subconscious that we have forgotten where it derives. Something that wasn’t even started by the African American community but by a force that attempted to divide us as a people: white supremacy.

Reflection from Astopheline:
Homophobia in Hip-Hop

The offensive language in Hip-Hop music has always been the reason I do not listen to it. This genre is known for objectification of women of color, homophobia, and racial slurs in its lyrics, and this has kept a lot of people from listen to it. Although it is important to point out that there are some Hip-Hop artists who do not use any of the items mentioned above in their music, the overwhelmingly majority uses them. This aspect of Hip-Hop has contributed to the decline in its sales and banning of certain albums from various stores. Out of the offensive items that are common in this genre; “homophobia” is the most frowned upon and has greatly impacted the decline of Hip-Hop. As 50 cent states; it is becoming clear that if Hip-Hop artists want to maintain their careers they have to accept and respect the LGBT community regardless of their personal feelings. This approach should benefit everyone involved; because the artists will get to maintain their successes, and the LGBT community will no longer face torment from these artists. No one is asking Hip-Hop artists to feel a certain way about the LGBT community issues, rather their music should not be a source of agony for this community. This is a country that supports free speech, but the speech should not contain elements that hurt another human being to his/her core. Therefore, it is important that more Hip-Hop artists gain 50 cent’s understanding on this issue.