Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Monday, February 19, 2007

A President's Day Quickie

Okay so I'm running out the door but I just stumbled on this editorial by author Trey Ellis. He's commenting on Blackness and politics and therefore on Obama:
I bit my tongue for as long as I could, reading essay after essay about Obama and his "blackness" that were about as insightful as if they'd been written in the era of Flip Wilson. Geez! Doesn't anybody watch the Disney Channel these days? The complexion of America has changed in the last thirty years.

His comments are interesting if not controversial as he takes his 1989 theory on The New Black Aesthetic and remixes it for a discussion on what he calls cultural mulattos:
A genetic mulatto is a black person of mixed parents who often can get along fine with his white grandparents, a cultural mulatto, educated by a multi-racial mix of cultures, can also navigate easily in the white world.
I hear Trey on the prevalence of cultural mulatto-ing. I mean my girl Nae and I have a whole run down on the pros and cons of attending Hunter High School for six years and how our real education came not so much from the literature we studied or the mathematical equations we solved but from our social interactions with boys and girls of all ethnicities, shades and financial backgrounds. We learned things about race that no book can teach and use those same lessons to this day in Corporate America. The whole theory on why do all the Black kids eat at the same lunch table just gets flipped to why do all the Black girls go out for drinks together after work? Do we straddle the fence of being in a Black and White world yeah I guess so. But does that straddling come into conflict with our Blackness. Nope not for us personally and not really for the white or Black folks we deal with. A few things about Trey editorial that I don't understand or agree with:

About Colin Powell-- truth is all my peeps whether they are born in Jamaica or born in England or born here will still say they are Jamaican because that is their culture and their family’s homeland. I don't ever hear any of them say they are Black American and furthermore I don't see what’s the big deal. Maybe I'm missing something here. Please y’all help me out!

This sentence here about Denise, Sandra, Vanessa and Rudy Huxtable:
The culturally mulatto Cosby girls are equally as black as a black teenage welfare mother.
I kinda disagree with him here because of the role class plays in how they rolled in their Blackness and therefore what they were exposed to and how that was played out. I mean the girls never talked about their hair and how different that was from their white friends. What Black girl in all white or in mixed environments never thinks about their hair or their skin complexion especially in the 80’s? (Of course this gets really complicated when we look at Sandra and Denise who in real life are both biracial and looked very much like the genetic mulattas they really were in spite of being cast as the children of two very brown-skinned parents!) In terms of Black culture it is still hard for me to say that the Huxtables were the quintessential Black fam. Just as I have a hard time swallowing that James, Florida and the rest of the Evans crew were the ultimate Black family. I know Trey would ask me was one fam more Black than the other and I guess in theory I would have to say no. It’s just in 2007 it still seems like these types of conversations in the first place do so much to stifle, contort and constrict definitions of all that Black folks are. Do Asians have these same conversations?

And then although I think Trey’s essay is engaging and definitely a good convo for the water cooler I do feel like his last sentence just simplifies everything. But maybe like me he was tight on time and didn't have a chance to say more so I won’t be mad. Alright I gotta bounce there's some President's Day sales I need to check out.


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Blogger Tamron Lohan said...

Interesting post!
And randomly, we were just talking at work about how Sandra being lighter skinned was ignored and never brought up! Willing suspension of disbelief, perhaps? Who knows. I guess that's '80s TV for you! One dimensional, don't ask don't tell, and don't worry - everything will get solved in 28 minutes, and it'll never get brought up again in any future episodes, unless someone "dies" or "goes off to college!"

2/26/2007 8:02 PM

Blogger charise said...

I'm late reading this. I think its an interesting post as well. The conversation about Obama's race in the mainstream media has really highlighted how stupid people still are when it comes to this issue.
Regarding the Cosby family, I always understood eye-rolling over the physical differences between denise and sandra and the others, however, I have to say that my family is a lot like that, so it's not totally unrealistic (and none of us is any milkman's baby). I do agree that it is unrealistic that the differences never came up, 'cause they sure as hell did in my family!
Also, I have one issue with Ellis -- why use the term 'mulatto'? It's so dated; besides, he should be aware that it derives from the Latin and Old Spanish words for mule, a hybrid between the donkey and the horse. One guess who's s'posed to be the donkey.

3/08/2007 9:01 AM

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3/20/2007 6:45 PM

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5/19/2007 1:02 PM


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