14 July 2008

Brothers & Sisters

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the longest running Black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, typically known as AKA. To celebrate this milestone, Mattel is releasing the AKA Barbie. After reading about this at Jezebel and reading some of the comments I started to really think about the history of Black organizations and some of the deep conflicts I have with them.

Black organizations in this country have an illustrious history in the United States, many forming at places and times when just the idea of creating spaces for Black people to excel and challenge the minority was nearly unheard of. But at the same time, so many organizations were preoccupied with the "image" that they were projecting to the same majority, which is why we have the prevalence of "paper-bag" tests and other standards which devalue Black beauty and traits. And I'm being completely open here. These practices were not limited to one specific organization or group. And this is not a condemnation of the AKAs. Some of the women I most admire are sisters of the organization. But ...

This is an issue that many Black organizations would like to sweep under the rug. And just as I believe we (Black people) will never be free until all people are free; I, too, believe that Black people will never be mentally and emotionally free until the -isms and schisms within our community are addressed. Every stage of the fight for civil rights and equality has been marred by colorism, sexism and homophobia and what most recent history books will tell us is that we, sometimes moreso than our oppressors, are good at covering up these injustices.

During my college career one of my best experiences was the Third World Transition Program (TWTP). What I loved about TWTP was that it was the first time I'd ever seen people openly and honestly admit to the various prejudices that exist among communities of color, without placing blame on White people. It wasn't just about acknowledging how we'd been oppressed by the majority but also coming to terms with how we continue to oppress ourselves and each other. Those are the types of discussions we need to be having. What's the point of gaining the power to oppress ourselves?


salty wenchar said...

oh ok, so you actually writing 'smart' shit on your blog. uh huh, interesting.

shananigans said...

Oh girl. Glad you made it over.