"All Black everything." -JAY Z
The revolution is being televised. The face at the forefront? A racially ambiguous woman named Samantha.
*Disclaimer: I am not bi-racial. I will not be speaking on behalf of the bi-racial experience. However, I sure as hell am Black. So best believe I'll be talking about that.
First, I know people are about to start chanting "bi-racial erasure" at me before even reading the entirety of this piece. Go ahead. I'm not going to stop you. However, I will advise you to give this piece 7 minutes (or less) of your time before you start the chanting.
Let us begin.
So I recently started watching Dear White People. If you don't know what this show is, don't you worry, imma break it down for you in a spoiler free manner. Dear White People is a Netflix original series (if you don't have Netflix, sorry boo). The show is based on the the campus of a predominantly white, Ivy-league institution. The show is a widely broadcasted visual of the difficulties that students of color, who are widely underrepresented on college campuses across the world, face day to day. The show places emphasis on the realties of being Black at a PWI (predominantly white institution). Some of these realities include, but are not limited to, fighting to get your issues heard by administration, fighting for better representation, fighting/trying to collaborate with other student organizations of color, etc. While the shows principal characters are predominantly Black, the protagonist, Samantha White (Logan Browning), will be the focus of this piece. Samantha operates a student radio show, called Dear White People, which she utilizes as a medium of fighting the blatant racism on her campus. She is frequently calling out her university's administration for their lack of involvement in race-related issues, blatantly educating her white peers on the politics of race, and creating a strong and present voice for her Black peers. Samantha is leading the revolution.
But get this... Samantha's right hand girl is Joelle Brooks (Ashley Blaine Featherson). She supports Samantha (even when she is temporarily shunned by the Black community on campus), she is also involved in the Black community on campus, and when it comes to boys, Joelle tries to persuade Samantha to go for the one of the popular, Black boys on campus who is sprung over Samantha.
Joelle has dark skin.
Hate to break it to you, but Joelle is the epitome of the sidekick. Joelle is the classic image of the pretty, dark skinned, Black girl who supports her (perceived to be) prettier, more popular, well-liked, light skin friend and all of her issues.
Throughout the history of the Civil Rights Movement and now, the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a direct correlation between the leaders of each movement and lightness in skin tone.
To put it quite bluntly, they all light skin (I kid... for the most part).
Maybe the word "all" is a force. Instead, I'll say "an overwhelming percentage."
I'll call this the Rosa Parks syndrome of the movement for Black equality.
PAUSE. I think Rosa Parks was a revolutionary and outstanding leader in the Civil Rights movement. However I, unlike the trash history textbooks that they gave us to read from 1st grade until 12th grade, will not overlook the fact that Rosa Parks was not the first Black women to refuse to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama. In fact, 9 months prior to Parks' demonstration, Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat in a similar altercation with a bus driver in Montgomery, Alabama. Read up on it. Telling Claudette Colvin's story and her achievements does not negate the importance of Rosa Parks' demonstration. Sharing Claudette Colvin's story is giving credit where it's due. It's calling out the system of prejudice that has been in place for centuries, and demanding an answer as to why it is still being utilized in 2017.
The Rosa Parks syndrome is when they replaced dark skin Aunt Viv with light skin Aunt Viv and thought no one would notice.
The Rosa Parks syndrome is when, in the entire cast of Black-ish, there is not one person who even comes close to having as much melanin as someone such as Lupita Nyong'o.
Speaking of Lupita, the Rosa Parks Syndrome is when Twitter blows up about how Lupita and Rihanna are bestie goals. It is then followed by Twitter users saying that Lupita looks like Rihanna's smart, best friend that plans how Rihanna can use her sex appeal to scam rich, white men. Jokes. Y'all really think that's all Rihanna and Lupita can do?
The Rosa Parks syndrome is when people chant Black Lives Matter, but are quick to say that colorism isn't relevant to the movement.
The Rosa Parks syndrome is being called an angry Black bitch. It's being told that you're pretty for a dark skin girl. It's being called unapproachable, jealous, and dirty. It's when Shirley Chisholm was the first woman to run for president, yet the majority of Americans STILL have no clue who she is.
Y'all better put some RESPECK on her name.
The Rosa Parks syndrome is when Black leaders actively hide the Black faces who support their movement. It is constantly wishing to see dark skin women in leading roles on television. It is also having to deal with people constantly throwing Viola Davis in your face when you demand for greater representation in Hollywood. It is having to hold on tight to shows like Insecure and Chewing Gum, because they give you hope.
Apparently, the brown paper bag standard still exists.
I'm tired of the Rosa Parks syndrome. I had high hopes that Netflix would come through for the dark Queens - the revolutionary sisters with skin like Black gold.
Now, for all my Queens with lighter complexions, trust, I didn't forget y'all. You too are apart of the revolution. However, imma call bullshit like I see it. And right now, there's a lot to be called out.
I'm one episode into Dear White People and I'm already feeling a bit dejected. I'm hoping that somewhere between episodes 2 and 10, that Netflix will prove all of us wrong.
**Disclaimer: God's good grace brought this blog to life.