Feb 12 2014

Phenomenal On So Many Levels

Wow! This was an awesome read. It was recommended by a book club, so this was my first time reading any of Ms. Cross’ work. And may I say that I have TRULY been missing out. Skin Deep was absolutely PHENOMENAL. No doubt. Period. The story was well crafted. The characters were well-developed. There is symbolism galore, as well as drama and suspense. (With a HUGE twist at the end! I never saw that coming.)

Now to the story: Nina was a complex character, with an interesting perspective on things. She was a beautiful, strong-willed, well-educated woman who came from a strong support system. Her “cross to bear” (if you call it that) is that in addition to her flawless beauty, she is a very fair skinned Black woman with blue eyes. Nina is aware of the special treatment and privileges she receives because of her fair skin, blue eyes, beautiful hair and body, etc. So much so, that she strives for equal opportunities and treatment for herself and others. Her father is a famous African-American musician. But her biological mother, who she knows is white, is a huge secret. A secret that she has spent years trying to find out about; even though she has a wonderful relationship with her Mama who raised her.

While on her crusade for equal minority relations and a MLK holiday at the college campus where she teaches and volunteers, she meets an interesting man named Ahmed and his beautiful daughter, Ebony. She is intrigued by Ahmed, who is totally rude and obnoxious towards her. And she instantly bonds with Ebony- who is desperate for stability and unconditional love, attention and guidance from a woman. The only problem is that Ahmed loathes Nina and what he feels that she is and she represents.

I won’t give away anything additional, because I want you to read the book and follow their journey yourself. As other reviews have said, this is a complex but beautiful story. Even though Ms. Cross wrote it many years ago, I believe that the themes and sub-plots are still prevalent today. Outstanding job Ms. Cross! (It was so good that I purchased her second book before I was half way finished with this one.)


Jan 3 2012

Mexicans Recreate ‘Black Doll-White Doll’ Experiment to Measure Skin Color Preference South of the Border

In an attempt to measure the degree to which Mexican children are affected by the legacy of European colonialism and the present day images they are bombarded with via the media, researchers in Mexico conducted an experiment modeled after the famous 1940’s Clark study that was designed to measure skin color preference in black American children.

Mexico’s National Council to Prevent Discrimination, or CONAPRED, are circulating a video in which children who are mestizos, or half-Spanish, half-Indian, are asked to pick  the “good doll,” and the doll that most resembles them. The children, mostly brown-skinned, almost uniformly say the white doll was “better” or was most like them.

“Which doll is the good doll?” a woman’s voice asks one child.

“I am not afraid of whites,” he responds, pointing to the white doll. “I have more trust.”

Mexicans who viewed the video online said that they were disturbed but not surprised by the results.

Some comments on the video have noted that the options were “very limiting” in that the children were offered only black and white, or good and bad as choices.

“It is a poorly formulated question, it is pretentious,” one viewer said on the website VivirMexico.

Others say the study reveals a deep-seated prejudice that is taught to Mexican children from an early age.

Wilner Metelus, a sociology professor and leader of a committee advocating for Afro-Mexicans and black immigrants, said the doll video shows the prevalence of racism and the need to educate young people.

“The Mexican state still does not officially recognize Afro-Mexicans. There are few texts that talk about the presence of Africans in Mexico,” Metelus said. “We need a project in the schools to show that the dark children are just the same as them, as the lighter children. And not only in schools; it is also necessary in Mexican families.”

Luz Maria Martinez, a leading anthropologist on Afro-Mexican culture, said, “We do not know how to value the indigenous culture, which is very rich, or the African culture, which is as great as any in the world.”

by Kathleen Cross for rollingout.com


Jun 16 2011

‘Black Like Me’ White Author Darkened His Skin to Write About "Being Black"

Today is my birthday. And Tupac’s Too.

Another June 16th human being I really love is John Howard Griffin.

6/16/20 – 9/9/80

I hope you already know all about this man, but if not, he was a White anti-racist who grew up in the South and wanted to do something to reach the hearts and minds of White Americans, most of whom were in denial about the conditions under which Black people lived.

Griffin conducted an experiment in 1959 (years before the Civil Rights movement) that included shaving his head, darkening his skin with lamps and pharmaceuticals and living as a Black man in the deep south.

Though he endured for several weeks, he ended up cutting the experiment short, as he found that being a Black man was too difficult for him to maintain for long. He wrote a book about his experiences that made him a celebrity and (to some) a villain.

“Nothing can describe the withering horror of this. You feel lost, sick at heart before such unmasked hatred, not so much because it threatens you as because it shows humans in such an inhuman light. You see a kind of insanity, something so obscene the very obscenity of it (rather than its threat) terrifies you. It was so new I could not take my eyes from the man’s face. I felt like saying: “What in God’s name are you doing to yourself?”

“Suddenly I had had enough. Suddenly I could stomach no more of this degradation- not of myself but of all men who were black like me.”

“When all the talk, all the propaganda has been cut away, the criterion is nothing but the color of skin. My experience proved that. They judged me by no quality. My skin was dark.”

Mr. Griffin knew when he conducted his experiment he would forever be putting himself at odds with those in America who didn’t want the ugliest realities of racism to be exposed and so vividly expressed by someone White. After his book “Black Like Me” was published in 1961 he and his family received continual death threats. They left their Texas home and eventually moved to Mexico.

“John Howard Griffin was one of the most remarkable people I have ever encountered…He was just one of those guys that comes along once or twice in a century and lifts the hearts of the rest of us.” -Studs Terkel

Here is an excellent article about Griffin’s life, his experiment and his writings: JimCrowMuseum <<–Highly suggested reading!