Racial Cliches Challenged From A Black British Perspective

After posting my last blog post I have been inundated with responses on Facebook and Twitter. One response in particular from  a family member accused me of ‘baiting’ the ‘race’ issue! This did not sit well with me because as far as I was concerned my blog was written in response to Dhaliwal’s article in the Evening Standard.

This led me to thinking about the cliche responses which counteracted the backlash of Dhaliwal’s opinions in the comments section of his article on the Evening Standards website. The popular counterargument was that ‘black people love playing the race card’ as if being racially abused is some sort of game. Maybe it’s a game for the people doing the bullying but it certainly isn’t fun for the individuals on the receiving end of the abuse which is often hard to identify or quantify as racism often involves an invisible power structure hidden within institutions and cultures worldwide.

The next issue which affected me while analyzing my feedback on twitter was when another family member was tweeting about racism. My cousin is ‘mixed’ which I do not have a problem with, but I found it strange that two of her tweets were focused on black men who chat up lighter skinned black girls with cheeky chat-up lines as racially disrespectful. Surely if the black guy finds the ‘light-skinned’ girl in question attractive then he is not intending to offend her but to get to know her better.

I do not agree with the term ‘lighty’ or greeting ‘Oh lighty’ I don’t talk to women like this but after reading Dhaliwal’s article I just was not in the mood to hear another person negatively stereotyping ‘black’ culture. Also in my experience with going out with ‘light-skinned’ women I have found that many ‘light-skinned’ women are confident about there complexion and often refer to it sexually or flirtatiously to their men in a playful way. As long as the ‘black’ man is not being aggressive with the term there should not be a massive problem; some people may actually enjoy talking to each other in flirtatious slang.

My cousin also went on to criticize ‘black’ women who look at ‘white’ women with ‘black’ men as if to say ‘your taking all our men’ . I have heard this expression time and time again but I have never experienced this first hand. In response to my cousins second tweet topic I had to remind her that in many country’s around the globe ‘black’ men are still attacked or killed for dating ‘white’ women. It was not too long ago that ‘black’ men were hung by their necks from tree’s for being accused of sleeping with a ‘white’ women by groups of ‘white’ men.

As a ‘black’ man with experience of dating ‘white’ women I have found it intimidating at times when you are seen in public with a ‘white’ woman as people tend to think you are a ‘gold-digging-rapist’ who is going to beat her up like Chris Brown or Mike Tyson. You see the issue with ‘black’ men dating ‘white’ women is that there does still seem to be a double standard as ‘white’ men never have to deal with the constant fear of being attacked by the state or a group of rednecks in the countryside or while on holiday somewhere in Europe.

A ‘white’ man is more likely to have access to more employment opportunities in contrast to  a ‘black’ man who may be prevented from attaining high levels of success due to institutionalized corporate racism. This can have a greater affect on how both men can potentially provide for his family. A ‘white’ man possesses more freedom of movement as he is less likely to be targeted as a terrorist or drug dealing criminal by immigration and more likely to blend in with western life in cities and towns worldwide.

A ‘white’ man can move away from an ethnic community or area if he feels uncomfortable with any negative attitudes facing him, his black woman and his children. On the other hand a ‘black’ man could move to the suburbs with his ‘white’ wife and have to deal with more racism than he received from his own community. Sadly some ‘white’ men still look at ‘black’ woman as commodity, trophy or accessories which make them look cool to other ‘whites’ or down with the ‘blacks’.

The sad part of this story is there are thousands of people out there like my cousin who don’t know who their Grandfather is due to the racial attitudes in 1960s Britain. In the 1960s white men would sleep with black woman but disown there own flesh and blood often leaving the role of step-father to a black man. This is similar to the slave families in America during the 17th century were it was common for black women to have children with her slave husband and slave master. This is a small part of the history which provides an understanding of where the light-skinned dark-skinned divide came from. Essentially it doesn’t matter how light your skin is your always capable of having a black child or grandchild.

This problem is when people forget that black people have always raised ‘lighter-skinned’ black children from the slave ships, to the plantations, from the colonies up until modern times. So to generalize and stereotype black people as racist although this may be true in some circumstances is on no way on the same level as what has been going on over the last 500 years. Playing divide and rule is illogical, distancing yourself from your history just leads to more confusion because if you do not know your past, how can you know what future your capable of achieving?

Don’t get it twisted, I love my family to death. But I have to explain how I feel. I’m not just going on about race but I am also concerned with fathers. There are some great black men out there like my grandfather who brought up children who were not there own or even there own race and loved them like there own while society mocked them and the child.

Unlike my grandfather the man who fathered my uncle did not stick around to see his son grow up. This white man moved on and forgot about his own son, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and concentrated purely on his white wife and children that he went on to have. This white man could be still alive somewhere  living a lie ignoring his own flesh and blood. This man chose to disown his son because as far as he was concerned my uncle was a nigger and so were any of his children and his grandchildren. This is disgusting and an example of someone who never knew what being a real man is all about.

I think people often overlook the real issues-I didn’t mean to be so autobiographical but I feel that this story explains a little bit about how me and many other ‘black’ people view things relating to representations of ‘black’ men and families in Britain. There are still things which have happened in Britain that the majority would rather turn a blind eye to. It becomes easier to invent new identities and forget about the past. But the past never dies. My grandmother might be dead but what she did with the help of my grandfather means more than any political identity people want to use to cover up the ugly truth of Britain’s issues of race.

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