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Light or dark skin, we're people

By Jamah Butler, staff writer
On March 6, 2014

  • Uplifting spirit — Gospel rapper Aaron Swuth performs during a concert to raise money to buy new robes for the Contra Costa College Gospel Choir Friday at the Hilltop Community Church. The show attracted a diverse audience. Michael Sue / The Advocate

As a young man of African descent in the 21st century, the struggle for equality does not seem to be as external as it once. Instead, the struggle has become a much more internal thing.
I have seen many positive strides in my life in regards to race relations. The America I grew up in is not the America where intolerance was widely accepted and promoted. People of different races are welcomed and encouraged to interact and engage with each other. My parents always taught me to live the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to treat others as I would have them treat me.
Following this advice throughout my life has allowed me to become a much more open-minded individual, making friends with people of varying backgrounds and experiencing their cultures.
Of course, nothing is perfect and racism still exists on some level in this country, but I do believe things will only get better. However, in the case of me, and other African-Americans, a lot of the work needs to be accomplished on our own.
At this point in American history, the African-American's biggest opponent is not another group. Our biggest enemy is ourselves.
The African-American community has constantly found faults and abnormalities within our own skin, cultures and lifestyles and historically have turned against each other.
Once upon a time, the mottos were "black power," and "black is beautiful." But this has degenerated into an argument over which is better, light or dark skin. The argument is not new, but it certainly does not need to continue. When my grandparents tell me their stories of marching for civil rights and the end of the Vietnam War, of the gatherings that united all shades of black and white and even other races, I continuously contemplate on what made my people regress over time.
The situation we face as a community does not allow us to turn against each other. Light skin and dark skin means nothing when so many black males are victims of homicides or incarcerated for really nothing other than the shade of their skin.
Our skin tone is null and void when our women are becoming infected with HIV and AIDS at an alarming rate nationwide and are being left to raise children on their own.
These are learned behaviors. Continuing these cycles will only continue to harm the African-American community. Labeling each other and bickering over superficial differences only further harms the community as a whole.
My lighter skin tone does not make me better than anyone darker than me, and a darker skin tone certainly does not make anyone worse. We are all equals with our roots in the motherland, and we can embrace who we are without deriding others.
There is nothing wrong with being dark with full lips, a big nose, and a head full of kinky hair. If you are mixed, that is OK too.
I do not know all the answers nor am I an expert on race relations, but the plight of African-Americans would greatly be helped if we could stop fighting about each other's differences and learn to accept them.  


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