Thursday, December 13, 2007

Well, maybe not proud.

It looks like the old Rimi Sen post is picking up some heat. First there was the "just toeing the line" comment:
It's not that Indians think dark skin is ugly - they just think that it's not "ideal".... it's personal choice, not racism.

PS: Riya Sen and Bipasha Basu have dark skin and one of the most beautiful women in the world!
I've said my fair share of embarrassingly ignorant things so I'll let this one go unchallenged. I know I'm an outsider but when people call Bips "dark" I'm like, WTH do they call Johnny Lever?!?

Moving on. The discussion dissolved into this comment which sincerely made my jaw drop.
as a black woman speaking (half nigerian, half antiguan), i can't help feeling that we are the least desirable people on earth...i can't think of many beautiful celebrities who are 100% black.
I was still waiting for the punchline when I read this part:
i am surprised to learn that a third world country (india) is THIS advanced and can make very well-made movies.
I don't think that's the punchline but it sure was funny. (Not "funny ha ha" either.)
but africa (except north african/arab africans) and carribeans (expcept indian descended carribeans) isn't very beautiful and advanced and the traditions is not very nice too. the black african western culture is really bad too
The commenter takes a few moments to describe black Western culture (as relayed by Southern rap, no doubt) and she's still not done. To sum it all up:
i wish i can say that i am black n proud, but then i would be a hypocrite.

*moment of silence*

*another moment of silence*

I'm not the type of person to dis someone for being honest. If that's where you are in your emotional journey, then that's where you are. Granted, from time to time you have to assess whether or not where you are is where you want to be.

So, the primary reason I'm still up typing this when I should be easing my sleep deprived self into bed is because of the comment that followed which launched a petty personal attack on the previous commenter and included these choice words:
You being a black woman, I feel bad for you. You will never find a man.
Excuse me, WHAT?! I'm willing to tolerate some level of ignorance but I do mean ignorance, in the dictionary sense of the word: lack of knowledge, education, or awareness

I do not tolerate insult. Did someone just walk into my house, insult one of my guests, and try to sucker punch me at the same time?!


Lakeesha may not be down but I'm black, proud and will lay the smackdown.

As for the essence of her comment, most of which has been discussed here, the point about there being no 100% African celebrities is moot. (Un)fortunately? America is the entertainment capital of the world and most black Americans are "mixed" so that's the look you see on screen. Likewise, "the look" for Indians in America is brown--mochalicious brown. Well known Indian super hotties in the US probably wouldn't get hired for lead roles in Bollywood because they're *gasp* "dark".

So no, there's not many African celebrities but I don't think that's for lack of beauty. Miss World 2001 was Nigerian. It's more about of lack of proximity. Djimon Honsou's done reasonably well but he came to Hollywood via Paris. When the resources are there, the faces are there. End of story. Celebrity is an indicator of little more than a good publicist. Check out the website Jamati to see more African celebs if you like. [Random aside: the handsome fellow in the photo is a staff member from Invisible Children in Uganda. Check them out.]

Thanks for commenting lakeesha. Don't let the cyberbullies send you into hiding. Sing along with India Arie and holla back.


Hope & Glory said...

The first comment is completely correct - the term "ideal" would be very appropriate (though I've only known this word being used in feminism, it seems well-suited in the subject of race and racism also). I’ve started watching Indian films some time ago and I’ve watched a fair amount since. I’ve noticed that most of the main actresses and some main actors were “light-skinned” and there were some who many would confidently describe as “dark-skinned”, i.e. Shahrukh Khan, Riya Sen, those well-known Indian super hotties, and even Bipasha Basu. However, these actors/actresses would also be described “good-looking”. I believe this “ideal” is created by Indian media and not necessarily by Indian societies – the “ideal” constantly portrayed within Indian media may have had an affect on the mentality of Indian societies creating this fad that “light skin = beauty”. People would therefore point out the aspects of actors/actresses which conflicts with the “ideal”, even if it is the slightest difference (hence, Bipasha Basu – she is seen as dark-skinned to many Indians, whether you think so or not – it won’t change their views and their view of the “ideal”) – nevertheless, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a negative thing – it’s just a fact [in relation to the Indian’s ideal]. For some reason, some people see the word “dark” as offensive… why? It’s an adjective, not an expletive. And if a person thinks dark is ugly, then so be it – it’s their opinion, racist or otherwise. You should also consider how a white person would describe a non-white person… it’s possible to a white-person, any non-white person may be seen as “dark-skinned”. T-hype, you seem like an educated person who wants share your views of peace, tolerance and unity amongst various groups of people – how could you stoop so low by “laughing” at Lakeesha’s comment about how advanced India is? Do you think that your Indian readers would laugh with you too?? By the way, India is definitely an advanced country and they do make very good films (as expressed in your blog entries). Instead, you should’ve emphasized that physical beauty is no match for inner beauty and goodwill… very disappointing. I agree with Lakeesha’s first line in her comment - what’s up with black people’s obsession with straight hair?” – you should’ve thought of that before criticising another nation’s fad –like the first comment said: “it’s personal choice, not racism”. Rimi Sen’s opinion is her own, not India’s.

India’s view: dark and …. …. ugly?

Oh, and I’m glad you’ve mentioned Djimon Hounsou – he’s so underrated.

nic said...

>> i am surprised to learn that a third world country (india) is THIS advanced and can make very well-made movies.

Well hate us if you want to, we have well-made movies because we have people with the right sensibilities. Also we are just plain lucky to have inherited almost 5000 years of music, dance, fine arts,culture and tradition. This does give us an unfair advantage.

As for the third world country bit, for your info this year India has already surpassed Japan with the largest number of Asian billionaires and its only a matter of time that India will be among the top 3 economies of the world. While most people in India implicitly understand that its only a matter of time before the clock turns a full circle, there seems to be a surprising amount of ignorance among the general public in your part of the world on where the world economy is heading.

And finally T-hype perhaps you could reflect on why the opinion of people from this third world country matters so much to you. You would probably get some answers there. Your Indian readers are definetly disappointed with you. They expected you to be above such petty behaviour.

t-hype said...

h&g, thanks for commenting.

I kid you not nic when I say I had drafted an (moderately) elegant response to h&g's response early this morning only to see your comment in my inbox and realize that I didn't actually click "publish" before closing my browser. *sigh*

So, I'll cut to the chase, I did not mean funny as in "hey, let's laugh at this" I moreso meant definition 2: "differing from the ordinary in a suspicious, perplexing, quaint, or eccentric way : peculiar." By saying it was "not funny ha ha" I was trying to communicate that it wasn't something to laugh about. It was an awkward play on words that fell flat.

[I now realize that 'funny ha ha' only translates properly in speech but that's another matter.]

I was trying to point out that the orig. commenter not only has low regard for her own culture--and by extension, herself--but she also greatly underestimates India based on similarly faulty beliefs. Basically, her logic is ill on both points.

It would be hella corny and juvenile for me to respond to an anonymous comment by someone who might (but might not) be Indian by dissing an entire country. I can see by your comments that that's how it sounded but that's not even close to what I meant.

Charge it to my head not my heart.

janeheiress said...

I didn't misunderstand your reaction to that comment, t-hype, and don't see how anyone could think you were demeaning Indian culture. My own thought was, "Haha. Is her knowledge of India based on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?" I admittedly don't know much about the country or culture beyond Bollywood/Indian themed movies and other bits and pieces I pick up (and I'm frustrated that non-western history/geography isn't more emphasized in my country[America]'s education), but I also avoid making ignorant assumptions and hope I would keep my mouth shut about any topic rather than expose my ignorance in a comment that sounded so derogatory. But then again, sometimes it's hard to tell how things written on the internet will be construed.

BTW, I'm with h&g about Djimon Hounsou, he's a great actor. And your blog is great too, keep it up!

Hope & Glory said...

Re: Oh yes, now I understand what you meant >> I don't think that's the punchline but it sure was funny. (Not "funny ha ha" either.) << - you should've just used the word "peculiar" instead of "funny" ("funny" is too ambiguous). I suppose that Lakeesha was comparing her culture with another culture (which shouldn't do because they're completely different to each other) and only seeing the negative things in her culture as opposed to the postive things. It's a struggle with herself and her identity - instead of giving her a hard time, we should instead help her to see how brilliant her culture really is.

MoJo said...

Wow! I can't help but think your post, T-Hype, was a bit misinterpreted. As a reader of your blog, your posts indicate a person, eager to learn of and from new cultures and that the "funny" comment was in reference to another person's surprise at the sophistication of Indian cinema.

In regards to the post that sparked the controversy. I just have to say that sometimes love of one's identity can be a very difficult thing for a person to achieve.I wish her the best in her journey and hope that she will one day be able to see beauty in people of Sub-Saharan African descent.

Much Love