All Natural Flavor. No Black No. 9

About that Michele Obama "dark-skin" post. A few interesting responses. From Chet:

I confess my white ass has a hard time understanding this post, since Michelle Obama seems kind of light, to me. But I suspect I'm just not calibrated to "the line" when it comes to light vs. dark skin re: black Americans.

And then from TexasGirl:

@ Chet - I don't understand the post either. Sometimes I really feel white reading this blog.

I suspect pulling you guys out in block-quotes, isn't helping things. To the point about color, I think Amari gets it:

No worries. We Black folk aren't calibrated either. Ask five different Black people their opinions of who's light versus who's dark, and you'll get five different answers. It's all relative, and, as I've also found, it's all relatives.

I find that folks who grew up around mostly dark-skinned people have a much lower bar for what constitues lightness. Many of my dark-skinned friends think I could easily trip over it, while I'd put myself firmly in a caramel category. On the other hand, my family is chock full of light-skinned folks, so I tend to err on the side of thinking someone is brown when browner folks would categorize them as light.

If that makes any sense at all.

Heh, like most things about human beings, it doesn't. I generally describe myself, to other black people, as "brown." But in my house (where everyone is darker than me) whenever I say this, I'm laughed at. Kenyatta insists that I'm yellow, or red at best, and she's now recruited Samori to her way of thinking. Meh, the perils of family.

Anyway, this isn't even taking into account the seasons when Negroes start changing color, and the fact that eyes are known to go from brown to gray. I've never actually witnessed that last point. I tend to think it's something that girls, back in high school, used to say to elevate themselves from nickel to dime-piece. It's right up there with "My great-grandmother was Cherokee." Whatever. Ain't no Cherokees in West Baltimore.

Where was I? Oh yes, the deeper point. One reason why I resist explaining too much in my post, is because I think it's a good thing for white people, who come here, to "feel really white," as TexasGirl says. I don't define that as "feeling guilty" or any of that business, so much as a nagging sense of having to work to get it. I imagine that many of my black readers have spent some of their lives feeling exactly that way, just in reverse. My first years working professionally made me immediately conscious that I was black, and that there were many people (in fact most people) in the world who were not.

I think we all need more of that in our lives. Here at this site, I try to present the black world as it is, or at least, as I see it. No frills. No translations. Just immersion. I was never the type to go to an island and lay up in a resort. Or go to Paris and eat at McDonald's. I want to see how other people talk, walk and live. I want to see our difference. It's the wierdest thing, but that's where I find the humanity--not in the sameness--but in the small details which I never would have imagined. I don't know how to explain it, but that's where I find unity. And that's what I try to give you here. Just black people as we are. Fucked-up and beautiful. No tourist trap, just the raw.