The Ongoing Culture of Self-Hatred Is Still Present Among Some Black Folks
Anyone who has been meticulously perusing prominent Black websites over the past week or so has probably come across an article that was written by Orville Douglas. Douglass is a Black Canadian journalist who has made national and international headlines with a recent column discussing the self hatred he has internalized and consumed due to the fact that he is Black. Yes indeed, the Black blogophere (and all other avenues of social media) have been dutifully dissecting, critiquing, discussing and certainly reacting and responding to Mr. Douglas's article. Douglas has engaged in stroke of public relations genius.
Mild sarcasm aside, no one can deny that his piece has punched many Black cultural and political pundits as well as readers directly in the face with its frank, intense, brash, unrelenting, searing and in many cases witnessing heartbreaking prison that has gripped this young Black man with a vehement level hate, disgust and resentment, both toward himself and those who share his racial heritage. His recent interview with CNN commentator Don Lemon was candid and engaging. I will admit that when I first read his article, I was stunned. In fact, I had to reread the piece to make sure that my eyesight was not blurred or that my imagination was not running wild. A second thorough read confirmed that what I had previously read was indeed accurate. My sanity was still intact.
I felt myself aching with sympathy for Mr. Douglas. I could almost feel his hurt, isolation and other forms of distress through his lacerating, "take no prisoners" article. In all honesty, prior to his column, I had never read any piece where a person (in particular an educated Black person) had been so candid in how so little they thought of themselves. To those of you who have not or do not intend to read his piece, Douglas discusses rabid disgust with his physical appearance. He mentions how he is angry at his "large thick lips," ( his description, not mine), broad nose, and being despised by the larger (read White mainstream) world on a daily basis.
In fact, he was probably being painfully honest in his remarks. As someone who grew up with parents who always instilled pride in me and my siblings, I can honestly state that I have never resented the fact that I am Black. Have I ever wondered what it would be like to be a member of another race? Yes I have. I have also thought about how my life would have turned out if I had been born female, in another nation, disabled and other possible scenarios for that matter. Moreover, I have never harbored any self-hatred due to his fact. That being said, I am old enough to realize the cold, hard reality that his perceptions of himself are not an isolated case.
There is too much evidence to confirm that Orville Douglas is far from an aberration. Any astute observer of past and present history is well aware of the fact that from the moment Africans arrived on the American shores there was a deliberate effort by some to demean, humiliate, disregard, manipulate and mistreat people of African ancestry by various extralegal methods. This exercise has taken place for centuries. It should come as no surprise that such self-hatred is deeply embedded within more than a few of our brethren of all ages.
We can see it in the tests that are given to young Black children and pictures are shown to them where far too many see White dolls as prettier. We see such self -hatred manifest itself when several Black pro-football players consider a perverse, crude, cruel, loudmouth, misfit, White linebacker with a history of disciplinary problems more representative of Blackness than a young, sophisticated, cultured, well-educated, reserved Black man. We see it in the plethora of YouTube videos, Twitter hash tags, Black-oriented websites and other venues where a number of Black people are perennially one another or have something negative to say, about Black men, Black women, Black culture or Black people in general.
This is further compounded when we routinely see ourselves frequently depicted as drug dealers, prostitutes, lazy, less intelligent, dishonest, shiftless and in other retrograde images. Such a level on ongoing negativity can certainly take its toll. For much of our history, Black Americans have often been targeted as scapegoats for much that is deficient, dysfunctional, immoral, amoral or just plain wrong with the world. In many avenues in our society, Black Americans (in many cases other non-Whites for that matter) are seen as "the other." For the less enlightened we are people to be objectified, tabloidized, sexualized, racialized and largely despised. The fact that Douglas is Canadian gives us some insights to the apparent racially regressive attitudes of some of our neighbors north of the border. Perhaps being introduced to positive representations of Black history culture would be a tremendous benefit to him.
One can only hope that Orville Douglas can free eventually himself of such psychological misery sooner rather than later for the sake of his physical and mental well being. The reality (and he obviously knows this) is that he was born Black from the womb, is Black in the present and will stay Black until the tomb.