Anti-Blackness; A world wide epidemic
I wish there was another sentence with which to start this story, but there is essentially no corner of the world where Blackness and by extension Black people are valued and loved as much as Whiteness is. Not in America, not in the Caribbean, not in India, not in Asia and not in South America. Black self-image and love is not even safe in the land where most of us can trace our roots, even Africa is not insulated from the pervasiveness of the inherent value of the White image as skin bleaching is an all too common practice, even upon the African soil.
So, where did this idea come from? Initially, Africans were separated from European contact by both advancement and distance, but at some point the Europeans began to close this gap and began to approach African leaders with offers to take their prisoners of war as slaves. This would begin the centuries long devaluation and degradation of Blackness as a line of demarcation was set around African people as the only people who Europeans could legally enslave. This is the root of White Supremacy, or the systematic positioning of Whiteness as superior to Blackness in social, economic, cultural and other circles of human hierarchy. Although much has been made recently of the idea that race is not an actual biological concept, this division is rooted in the fact that it was essentially legal and very much encouraged for Europeans to enslave anyone with darker skin than them. Later in the Americas this would morph into a stringent enforcement of the “one-drop rule” or the concept that one drop of African blood was enough to make the offspring of the White, European descended slave-master and the African slave considered a slave because the Black blood overpowered the White blood.
So though race may not be an actual division, racism is no less felt across the globe than sexism is, in fact in many cases these two issues converge much to the chagrin of women of color living at the mercy of a White and male supremacist power structure. The idea of race not being an actual valid classification biologically has not stopped the line of demarcation from being drawn at the tint of a paper bag. In history, and in certain cases today, darker skinned individuals face extreme prejudice and even hatred from entire countries as the dark legacy of colonialism and imperialism live on in those who were conquered and forced to adhere to the social strata that was imprinted upon their consciousness. These days, America may be devoid of anything that looks like the “one-drop rule” on the surface, but if you examine the experience of how lighter skinned individuals are treated, you will find that those who identify closer with the Black Experience are generally treated as Black, though sometimes a little better than those who are darker skinned. See the curious case of the way that some of the opposition that President Obama has received from the Right is not because of his policies but because of his pigment. In some of their eyes, he’s just Black enough for them to want him to fail despite the fact that his failure is essentially the failure of America as a country. This too, is White supremacy. I cannot recall a time in American History where politicians would rather the President fail than the country succeed as a whole. I use this as but a visible example of the line of demarcation that still exists in America, a residual effect of the “One-drop rule” that still rules social interactions.
The events in the Dominican Republic have stoked the sleeping fires of anti-Blackness and have resurrected ghosts of a genocide as the government has passed a ruling which is eerily similar to the 1937 massacre of darker skinned Dominicans who looked Haitian as well as actual Haitians. The ruling of the Dominican version of the Supreme Court is essentially that anyone who is of Haitian descent, either Dominican or Haitian, must submit proof that they are residents of the country; however in true social and ethnic cleansing form, the government has made it nearly impossible to do so and this may well result in the forced deportation of massive numbers of people. Add to this the simmering smoldering embers of anti-Haitian violence instigated by Dominicans, and what we have here is a government that essentially signs off on the oppression and intimidation of an entire group of people for no other reason than that they are “too Black” for us to accept as our own.
Give. Us. Free.