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Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas
I've been thinking a lot about Christmas gifts over the last few weeks, which would make sense because between my step family and my "real" family (I don't like calling them that as my step family is every bit of real) I have nearly 80 nieces and nephews. If you think I buy gifts for all of them, please have your sanity level checked. The aunts and uncles usually draw 2-3 names out of a hat and focus on those few people.

Anyway, this has nothing to do with them, but I thought I'd share for the fun of it all. A few days ago, I asked one of my good friends who happens to have a 6 year old daughter what I could get the child for Christmas. I was honestly expecting to hear something like "Bratz, Barbie, Disney MP3 player..." but my ears deceived me. Instead she told me that if I wanted to get her any toys, that they had to be afrocentric in nature and that she would only allow black dolls in her house.

This sista is really on her Militant Pro-Black shit this yeear, and that's something I don't know if I can wholeheartedly support. But because she's been my road-dawg for years and her daughter is the most precious little person I know, I'll respect her wishes. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about supporting my people and celebrating my blacktitude. I'm not about to pull a Michael Jackson and dye myself glow-in-the-dark white or anything, but I really can't get behind this mentality.

Hate me if you want to, and I know that I've been sitting on this race thing for a few posts too long, but it's my opinion and my blog so in the words of my good friend Jamaul...TUFF!

It's one thing to want to know and celebrate who you are by honoring your ancestors, your people, and your culture. But to go on some militant-ass "Black or nothing at all" trip is insane to me. I know our people have been through some horrendously jacked-up stuff in this country and we've been opressed, repressed, and had our hair pressed. I also recognize that there is a certain level of white privilege in force in our land, sometimes those benefitiing from it are completely ignorant to it. Yes, white supremacists and all out racism exist in this country, but to respond with an all or nothing militant attitude doesn't really solve anything.

I understand my friend's desire to make her daughter see the beauty in black people by getting her black books and black dolls. Makes all kinds of sense. But to limit her to playing with only those toys that are Black Like Me (that's a reference to the book...you should read it) is on the same plane of thinking as a White Supremacist's. Isn't that self-segregation? Haven't we been fighting for up-teen hundred years to end institutional segregation. To teach your kids to isolate themselves culturally like that (i.e. regard black and nothing else as beautiful or acceptable) is EXACTLY THE SAME CRAP WE'VE BEEN FIGHTING AGAINST. What sense does that make?! Now before you go throwing stones at my head or crucifying me for that last statement, hear me out.

There are countless races and ethnicities of people living in our country and the world. Each and every one of them has a beauty about it, even those who have sketchy pasts. Wouldn't it make sense to teach a child how to appreciate the beauty in all cultures rather than solely the one they represent? Yes please, go ahead and teach your children about the culture you most closely identify with, so they know that their own culture is unique. I chose my word carefully there...unique. I didn't say "better than" or "the only beautiful culture". When a child emerges into life knowing that his or her culture is special, beautiful, and unique then he or she can be a fully engrossed citizen of the world. When we limit our children's cultural experiences to one or two cultures alone, then they are not able to truly appreciate the beauty of all skin colors, ethnicities, religions etc. For example, my nuclear family celebrates Christmas and Kwanzaa. My grandmother (God rest her soul) was Jewish, so she celebrated Hanukkah only. It would have been a disservice to me if my parents had taught me to only appreciate Christmas and Kwanzaa but shun Hanukkah because it's different than what we do at our house.

I get damn sick of people saying, well we have to preserve only our own race because collectively we've been dragged through the mud. Newsflash people, we're not the only ones it has happened to. Ever heard of Native Americans/Indigenous People? Hell, most of their race (I know there are lots of tribes, but I don't know a better word to use...pardon my ignorance, but I'm still doing research) got fucking erradicated. Destroyed and pushed onto small, tiny reservations and left to live in poverty. Do you have any idea how many Native Americans are currently living below the poverty line in conditions that you and I can't even friggin imagine? These people used to roam free in this country, but now the relative few that are left mostly live on Reservations. Yes, for the most part, many still hold on to their traditions and maintain those traditions at the center of their worlds, but they also realize that in order to survive, they need to appreciate the other cultures around them and work with them. Hell, at least more of our people made it through slavery with some dignity intact. And what about the Jews? The Holocaust was not made up. And they manage to keep their traditions and history sacred but not always to the detriment of other cultures.

I'm not ranting so much against Pro-Blackness as I am aganst Pro-Anything-To-The-Exclusion-Of-Everything-Else. Damn, for once can't we just be Pro-People rather than trying to divide ourselves? I'm not so naive as to think that we can all exist on some Kumbaya shit either, but damn can we (the collective universal We, not just black people) for once see the beauty in each other?

Hatred--it's really very passé.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Gunfighter said...

Well said!

Blogger Sister Toldja said...

I disagree. While I played with other toys as well, I had the "Afrocentric" ones in great number and ALL of my dolls were Black. I once got a White doll in a grab bag and was devistated. At your friend's daughter's age, it's very important that she has playthings that help her to cultivate a race-postive and gender positive idenity. The media at-large is pointing her in one direction and it sounds like Mommy is working hard to point her the right way. I don't think she's gonna end up hating anyone, but she needs to understand just how beautiful little Black girls are. Cause the world will do it's damndest to tell her otherwise. Personally, I think Barbies and Bratz are awful for girls of any race. They look like whores and have a very unrealistic body type. And the Bratz are creepy, like Rihanna. A white doll may either disappoint the girl, or be her favorite because she's different.

Two Children's books that your friend and her daughter may like as gifts:

Shades of Black-A Celebration of Our Children
Nappy Hair

The former was given to me by a former employer, who was White and knew I loved things like that for Black children. The second one is cute, as well. These are my coffee table books, LOL. You can even ask her mom about getting a book that celebrates diversity amongst children.

Blogger Sister Toldja said...

I disagree. While I played with other toys as well, I had the "Afrocentric" ones in great number and ALL of my dolls were Black. I once got a White doll in a grab bag and was devistated. At your friend's daughter's age, it's very important that she has playthings that help her to cultivate a race-postive and gender positive idenity. The media at-large is pointing her in one direction and it sounds like Mommy is working hard to point her the right way. I don't think she's gonna end up hating anyone, but she needs to understand just how beautiful little Black girls are. Cause the world will do it's damndest to tell her otherwise. Personally, I think Barbies and Bratz are awful for girls of any race. They look like whores and have a very unrealistic body type. And the Bratz are creepy, like Rihanna. A white doll may either disappoint the girl, or be her favorite because she's different.

Two Children's books that your friend and her daughter may like as gifts:

Shades of Black-A Celebration of Our Children
Nappy Hair

The former was given to me by a former employer, who was White and knew I loved things like that for Black children. The second one is cute, as well. These are my coffee table books, LOL. You can even ask her mom about getting a book that celebrates diversity amongst children.

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