Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Light-Skinned Men Organize!

Although I couldn't get permission by press time to post the following email I received from film producer Sheldon Lane, I'm going to chance it anyway. All that can happen is that I'm asked to remove it. However, I think this post is important enough to risk punishment--as long as it doesn't involve water-boarding. Read it and tell me if you don't agree.

Light-Skinned Brothers Start Voter Registration Drive For Obama

New Group Organizes For Change!

Extremely pleased that the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama is "bringing light-skinned brothers back", a new organization of black men of very light complexion have launched a voter registration drive aimed at "getting every light-skinned brother to the polls on November 5," said the organization's founder, Dan "White Boy" Williamson.

Williamson organized Light-skin and Interested in True Equity (LITE) to give men like himself a platform to share their experiences for healing purposes and to advocate for equity, especially in the dating game and in the entertainment world.

"Through my research, I have found out that we still do well in corporate America," he admitted.

"(But) these dark-skinned brothers have been on top of the dating and entertainment games for a long time," said the 40 year-old Williamson.

"It's been about 30 years and it's about time! I knew things were looking up for us light brothers when Wesley Snipes got into all that tax trouble with the IRS, " he added. "Folks asking if Barack will paint the White House black if he gets into office. I hope not. I hope he paint it high yella. Call it the High Yella House. That will stop all the cruel ridiculing."

Light-skinned activists also point to the recent incident with Tyson. The male supermodel's recent public display of nakedness was simply another sign that the winds of complexion popularity are changing, explained Williamson.

"He's desperate because he's not the 'it' guy anymore," said Williamson.

The Coalition urges all light-skinned brothers in politics, entertainment, and those in the dating circuit to take their games up a notch because "the playing field just got level again."

When it comes to light-skinned black folks, a double standard seems to exist. I'm not sure how much of an issue it is now, but back in the day light-skinned men were considered weak and effeminate. Except for Ron O'Neal's Superfly, there was rarely any light-skinned, or high yella, male movie heroes. From Richard Roundtree's Shaft to Calvin Lockhart's Rev. Deke O'Malley in Cotton Comes to Harlem to William Marshall in Blacula, chocolate brothers were definitely happenin'. True, there was always a Harry Belafonte or two, but the majority of black heartthrobs looked more like Sidney Poitier. I remember my best friends, The Twins, admonishing me not to go out with "yella mens" because they were all latently homosexual. How's that again?

Yet, on the female side, light-skinned women fared better than their darker sisters. Why? In fact, a lot of light-skinned women were actually biracial, but either were coerced into the One Drop Rule, or readily accepted their blackness without attempting to claim their other heritage. Check out Halle Berry today, and in the past stars like Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Lonette McKee, Irene Cara and Jennifer Beals. All of them are either biracial or multiracial, but were presented as being only black. Their lighter skin made them more desirable in Hollywood than the average brown-skinned sister, yet they were still considered monoracially black.

How did browner skin come to be associated with masculinity in the first place? Well, I'm not going to attempt to answer that here, but if you have any ideas I'd like to hear them.

Ah, if only Wesley Snipes would speak to us, but he's too busy applauding his incredible good luck in the photo above (which I snapped at the Pan African Film Festival).

Until later, I am...

Your Hip Hapa,


Cherryl said...

hi yayoi, it has a lot to do with the fact that darker skinned blacks worked outside in the fields, hence the term "field nigger".

whites were more comfortable with lighter skinned blacks, so if light skinned blacks who as you said were usually bi or multiracial (sometimes even children of the slavemaster) were on plantations they were the ones usually in the house, as in the term "house nigger".

to this day this mental color hierarchy implanted in our minds by slavemasters remains - we truly have a caste system here, with the lightest and the richest usually on top in america, and the poorest and he blackest on the bottom.

great blog!

Yayoi Lena Winfrey said...

You're absolutely right, Cheryl.

Further, this light skin/dark skin caste system is evident worldwide. Just look at any country--even, Japan. Darker-skinned Okinawans are considered "peasants". And, using rice powder for make-up was practiced by Japanese women who considered themselves of a higher class.

Thank you for your comments. I appreciate them.

Your Hip Hapa,

APGifts said...


Actually --- this concept that so many people have
-- that the lighter-complexioned chattel slaves “had
it easier” or “thought they were better” than the
darker-complexioned slaves – and / or “worked
in the big house” while the darker-complexioned
“suffered in the fields” -- is all VERY MUCH AN
URBAN MYTH which, (in nearly every way that’s
possible) defies the true historical recorded account.

The historical record shows that those enslaved
people who were of a lighter-complexion (i.e.
mulatto-lineage) and that were found on the
continental United States during the antebellum
(chattel slavery) era were actually treated MUCH,
MUCH WORSE than were those enslaved
people who were of a darker-complexion.

In fact, record shows that most of the White
people (specially the White women) tended to
look upon the lighter-complexioned slaves as
being mere 'mongrels of miscegenation' (resulting
largely from the rapes caused by overseers); in
their disgust at the sight of these slaves -- insisted
that they be "banished to the fields"; and also
then purposefully reserved most of the 'big house'
positions (ex. mammy, cook, driver, etc) for the
darker-complexioned slaves --- who most of the
White people perceived as being "more loyal,
docile, less competitive" -- and, equally important,
of a skin tone which could never cause them to
be mistaken for 'white' or a possible member
of the plantation owners' own family.

And this maltreatment was generally even much more
so the case if the lighter-complexioned enslaved
person was 'suspected' (by a wife, sister or daughter
-- who ran “the big house”, while a ‘male’ family member
ran “the plantation”) of possibly being the offspring of
a plantation owner (or his son, father or brother).

Books by Deborah Gray White; Paula Giddings; J.
California Cooper; bell hooks’, etc. expose the truth
about the urban-myth and show that the lighter slaves
received NO special treatment and were (as mere
"mongrels of miscegenation") usually treated much
worse than were darker-complexioned slaves.

Hope this information is helpful
& that everyone has a great day. :D

-- AP (