Brown or Pink? We’re all just People
I read something here on Medium today, and it raised a lot of points for me. I would like to make them here. The writer was considering the wording used for the skin tone of people. As I see it, there are white (who are not actually “white”), brown (the most accurate of the three) and black (for anyone darker than tan, usually Africans or West Indians).
The writer went rather more deeply into it, to a bit of a crackpot level I believe, but some of it I agreed with. I shall share the points that stood out to me, and my responses.
I get what this person means, but it just isn’t going to happen. And that’s not a very representative photo of brown, tan and pink people…
As for no black people, how about this young lady? A very successful model I might add, her black skin has done her no harm in the world at all.
Her name is Khoudia Diop. Beautiful young model from Senegal. I personally would say she’s actually black. There are others out there like her. So I would say to the writer, no, maybe I haven’t met a truly BLACK person, but they are out there. It’s also just an umbrella term for the darkest complexioned members of society.
I mean, if the writer has never realised this before, it clearly isn’t a very prominent issue. Of course I know that so-called “black” people are often not actually the colour black, and so-called white people are not often the colour white. It’s not something I would’ve only just clued in about.
Black is also the beloved colour of goth culture, in the Far East it symbolises health and wealth, and warding off evil in Indian culture. It’s the colour of mystery, sophistication and class; think “little black dress”, “black suit & tie”.
Oh no, I’m not letting this one pass. Allow me to list all the many, MANY shades of black hair dyes for instance… (a subject I know all about);
Deep Black, Ebony, Liquorice, Blue Black, Deeply Wicked Black, Metallic Black, Soft Black, Midnight Black, Ultimate Black, Intense Blue Black, Natural Black, Black Gold, Bright Black, Extra Rich Black, Cool Black, Purple Violet Midnight Black… the list goes on and on, and yes they are all slightly different to each other. So, I mean, just because the wonderful Merriam Webster doesn’t list the various shades of black does not mean there aren’t any.
Muhammed Ali was obviously a child when he said this. Kids are inquisitive, they ask some odd questions, and some difficult to answer questions! But I can answer these;
- Jesus is depicted as white with blonde hair because you live in a white majority country and people tend to see Him in their own image or the image of people they are used to seeing. In fact, everyone knows Jesus was Middle Eastern and would’ve been of tanned complexion, probably with brown eyes.
- The Lord’s Supper is depicted as all white men for the same reason as above.
- There are black angels. I don’t know what little kid Ali was referring to, but you can definitely find black angels in art for instance. Just look around.
White is also associated with ghosts, it’s seen as plain and boring, it’s empty. It’s seen as clinical and cold. It’s unimaginative and bland.
However, the symbolism of these colours and their use for naming groups of people are two completely separate things and most people would NEVER conflate the two separate uses!
No it’s not some big plan to keep black people down, and it isn’t strange at all. There is ALREADY a “brown” group of people. And black people always talk about wanting to be separate from them. There is a blanket term for anyone non-white, “People of Colour” (love the insinuation that white is not a colour! Probably the biggest insult of all), but many from the black demographic want it made very clear that they are not part of that group; they are black and want to be segregated from POC! So it seems to me that is where it comes from. If black people were happy to be part of the “brown” demographic, the label “black”wouldn’t exist. And the only reason it does appears to be because black people WANT it that way! So, maybe talk to them.
The link is to an unbiased source; “The National Museum of African American History & Culture”. Not a place I would expect someone to link to to prove anything!
That’s because white people don’t mind being part of that group regardless of our skin tone. From the whitest white redheads, who actually do face bullying, discrimination and hate to the more tanned end of “white”, we don’t feel a need to split ourselves up because x is more oppressed than y! As stated above, you need to talk to black people about this. Though being brown, I imagine you’d be told you should stay in your lane.
But black people don’t only exist in America. In the UK, they are black. Indians etc are brown, and the usual wide range of white skin tones are all white. So again the divide between what shade of brown you are, which is nothing to do with white people!
Yeah, I agree. I think it’s stupid to divide everyone up. I think we could just say black & white, or with your idea of getting it right it’d be more brown & beige. But it isn’t going to happen. You should talk to your black co-workers and you’ll see this isn’t coming from those pesky whites!!