Even though we think homeboy has “the wrong idea about life” does we think he does make some points worth exploring more deeply. A Canadian man who describes his skin color as a “personal prison” has drawn a lot of attention and criticism for an essay he penned for The Guardian. The author, Orville Lloyd Douglas starts out by lamenting how no one ever wants to sit next to him on Toronto’s public transportation, despite his good hygiene and how he eventually concluded he was experiencing the “fear of black skin” phenomenon that we document on BOSSIP regularly. He decided to tackle his own issues with self-hatred, and starts his essay by exploring the teachings of Frantz Fanon (this guy is smart, Fanon is great at describing the psychology of race and racism) but rather than ignoring the issue of black self-hatred as he admits he is supposed to do, he dives right in:
There is also a fear by some black people that discussing the issue of self-hatred is a sign of weakness. There is a discourse that black people engender: that black is beautiful. But the truth is, the image of blackness is ugly – at least it’s perceived that way. There is nothing special or wonderful about being a black male – it is a life of misery and shame.
A lot of black men don’t want to acknowledge the feelings of disgust we have for ourselves. It is considered emasculating to even admit the existence of such thoughts. I think my own self-hated manifests from the exterior, from the outside world. It is born out of the despair and the unhappiness I see within a lot of young black men.
I can honestly say I hate being a black male. Although black people like to wax poetic about loving their label I hate “being black”. I just don’t fit into a neat category of the stereotypical views people have of black men. In popular culture black men are recognized in three areas: sports, crime, and entertainment. I hate rap music, I hate most sports, and I like listening to rock music such as PJ Harvey, Morrissey, and Tracy Chapman. I have nothing in common with the archetypes about the black male.
There is so much negativity and criminal suspicion associated with being a black male in Toronto. Yet, I don’t have a criminal record, and I certainly don’t associate with criminals. In fact, I abhor violence, and I resent being compared to young black males (or young people of any race) who are lazy, not disciplined, or delinquent. Usually, when black male youth are discussed in Toronto, it is about something going wrong.
Honestly, who would want to be black? Who would want people to be terrified of you and not want to sit next to you on public transportation?
Who would want to have this dark skin, broad nose, large thick lips, and wake up in the morning being despised by the rest of the world?
Having disgust for yourself when you don’t embody any of the negative stereotypes for your race doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense to us, and we don’t see a damn thing wrong with dark skin, thick lips or broad noses but we agree it ain’t fun waking up with the whole world hating.
Still, Orville makes some good points about society needing to be more open about issues of self hatred. He writes:
Not discussing the issue doesn’t mean it is going to go away. In fact, by ignoring the issue, it simply lurks underneath the surface. I believe a dialogue about self hatred should be brought to the fore in the public sphere, so that some sort of healing and the development of true non-label based pride can occur.
Of course, I do not want to have these feelings, to have these dark thoughts about being a black man. However, I cannot deny that this is the way I feel. I don’t want to be ashamed of being a black man; I just want to be treated as an individual based on the content of my character, and not just based on the color of my skin.
Poor Orville needs a damn hug, but how many other black folks are walking around with these feelings? How do we motivate our people and communities to keep them from falling under the spell of the outside world who says we’re not beautiful, trustworthy or deserving of love and recognition?
Self-hatred is a muhfugga ain’t it?
You can read Orville’s entire piece HERE