Volume 45: Light Skin vs Dark Skin

“Don’t forget, you must pitch the OLD BLACK MALE vs. THE YOUNG BLACK MALE. You must use the Dark Skin Slaves vs. the Light Skin Slaves. You must use the Female vs. the Male. You must also have your white servants and overseers Distrust all Blacks, but it is necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us. They must love and respect only us. Gentleman, these kits are your keys to control. Use them. Have your wives and children use them, never miss an opportunity. If used intensively for one year, the slaves themselves will remain perpetually distrustful. Thank you, gentleman.”  –Speech delivered by white slave owner Willie Lynch, on the banks of the James River in 1712

            I was talking to one of my frat brothers recently about settling down. He expressed an interest in finally relinquishing the life of a free-swinging bachelor, in exchange for a rare opportunity at a serious relationship with the right woman. Now… I’ve heard this song a thousand times before, and within days male friends have gone back on promises of monogamy-but everyone is in fact getting older and perhaps there was some sincerity to his revelation. I became intrigued by his newfound change of heart and asked him to describe his ideal women-perhaps in the naive hope that I could help him find her. He then began to describe his ideal woman as a “light-skinned dime-piece, with light eyes, long hair and a body.”

My face bore a look of disappointment as I was suddenly reminded of how big an idiot he is at times. My inner nerd recalled an Abraham Lincoln quote: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool then to speak out and remove all doubt.”
I sensed that I already knew the answer that would follow my next question, but I proceeded to ask it anyway. I asked him why he would only entertain dating a light-skinned woman. He looked at me and said, “I can’t mess with anyone darker than me.”

            My face stood twisted in discomfort, as I felt the souls of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks simultaneously turn in their graves and call him an idiot. Disappointed, however not totally shocked at his Neanderthal statement, I proceeded to inquire about his latest verbal blurting. Although he actively has sex with sistas of all shades of black, he was making an attempt to explain his preference. He explained that although he could sleep with a multiplicity of shades, the woman that he eventually settles down with must be a perfect ten…in order to keep him faithful. He felt as though sistas who are light-skinned presented the highest levels of outer beauty that he had witnessed in Philadelphia, and therefore were his choice for relationships. He wanted a girl with what he classified as “nice hair” because of the lack of real hair found on sistas in Philadelphia. Real hair is rare here, so therefore sistas with long silky hair captured his interest. His philosophies on dating made about as much sense as the insane homeless men in the park who talk to the pigeons.

            I was saddened to see that an educated man in his late twenties could still be color struck. I can’t front…I too used to chase after the light-skinned, long hair sistas…when I was about 15 years old! I came to college-and an HBCU at that, and discovered the plethora of sistas who existed outside of Philadelphia. They came in all shapes and sizes, complexions and hair types. Some cultured, some moronic. Some prudish, and some promiscuous. Hearing some of his statements made me realize much of the post-slavery brainwashing that permeates many African American minds to this very day. The infamous Willie Lynch Letter that I was shown during my college years guaranteed a full proof method for controlling black slaves for another three hundred years if used correctly. Outlined in the letter were a number of differences among the slaves for white slave owners to exploit in order to keep them distrustful and envious of each other. Differences in class (House Negro VS Field Negro), Hair (good hair VS bad hair), Sex, Age, and Skin Tone were used for control purposes. Willie Lynch believed in the controlling tactic: KEEP THE BODY…TAKE THE MIND.

            To be perfectly honest, I know lots of educated idiots. There are many people out there who are educated, however are not intelligent. Intelligence is having the capacities to reason, plan, solve problem or think abstractly- the ability to understand and profit from experience. Education merely is the end result of a series of tasks or tests, whereas there is knowledge acquired by learning and instruction. A man who passes all exams with a D has met the minimum passing requirement for education, however cannot be taken seriously as an intelligent man. And such is life. Today we still have black people, some who are fearful of attending historically black institutions of higher learning. Instead they opt to go to predominately white colleges and are brainwashed into believing that they will get the good jobs first, over their peers who attend an HBCU. It’s almost laughable, as I’ve had these debates countless times with close friends who attended nearby West Chester University and Temple University-friends who made a mockery of my HBCU education…to find themselves in the same training classes with the HBCU alum upon graduation. Could a post slavery mode of thinking be to blame for this? It’s quite possible.
            Maurice Freehill once asked, “Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark, or the man afraid of the light?”

            Someone sent me a link on facebook a few weeks ago http://afieldnegro.com/photos.html and when I opened it, I was directed to a site that was written under the moniker A Field Negro. The entry had numerous pictures of black male celebrities that were currently dating or were married to white women. Many of the interracial relationships featuring black male celebs I had already known about, but some were somewhat surprising to hear of. I had no idea that Michael Jordan after his breakup with his African American wife for years, was currently engaged to a white woman…not that I gave a shit either way! (laughs) But the writer pointed to a growing trend of African American men’s desires to do away with sistas and cling to white, Asian or European women-the theory being that men have grown tired of the ensuing drama that comes with dating women of color. Listening to the style of writing, I figured, here’s another angry black sista…expressing her displeasure with the increasing number of interracial relationships featuring successful men of color. But upon reading the About The Author section, I was surprised to find that the writer was a man. He appeared upset at the current state of black women in America and explained that successful cultured men would rather be with a white woman who could appreciate what they have to offer…minus the drama. I was shocked.

            My eyes surveyed the long list of pictures of black celebrities, photographed next to their white wife’s, and girlfriends: Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Eric Lasalle, Tim Duncas, Taye Diggs, Tiger Woods, Dennis Rodman, Wesley Snipes and many others. I never saw anything wrong with interracial relationships-the issue in my eyes not worth creating a site to vent one’s anger and frustration. Me personally…I date the sistas. I love the sistas…drama and all. (laughs) It takes a special type of person to deal with any person of color, but there’s nothing greater than the love between two people who share a genuine interest in each other. The only issue I have is when you have a person who has a ridiculous reason for refusing to date a particular race…specifically their own. I remember being a huge fan of Dennis Rodman, one of the NBA’s greatest rebounders in the history of the sport. Dennis Rodman lived an extremely controversial life-he said what he wanted to say…he did what he wanted to do. In the 90’s, he published a book called Bad As I Wanna Be. As a huge Basketball fan, I purchased the book, hoping to take a peek inside the mind of the NBA’s biggest enigma. Beyond the crazy hairdos, tattoos and piercings, Dennis Rodman was someone who grew up a very awkward child. He was fatherless and lacked direction. I recall him explaining why he chose not to date black women as a multi-millionaire celebrity. He stated that black women called him ugly as a child and made fun of him. He discussed losing his virginity at 22 years old to a prostitute in the Oklahoma projects where he was raised because no one wanted him. Awwww…(pulling out my violin to play him a tune) Black celebs really need to get over that shit. To refuse to date black women because a few made fun of you as a child is in fact childish! Who wasn’t teased as a child?!? It’s one of the worst cop-outs a man can ever use to justify foolish, infantile actions.

            Wesley Snipes is another color struck African American male celebrity, who refused to date black women because he said that they made fun of his dark complexion as a youth. He currently is married to an Asian woman and they have several children. If a man or woman happens to find love from another race…great. It’s never easy finding your soul mate and one’s soul mate doesn’t have to be of the same race. Love is love and love is a beautiful thing. But I personally can’t stand when people discredit their own race (or any other for that matter) and run to the arms of another, simply because they have the right complexion to get the connection.
            I laugh every day at Tiger Wood’s stupid ass. Woods is one hell of a golfer, but in my eyes, he epitomizes the modern day Uncle Tom. I watched an old CNN interview of Tiger Woods when he was about 21 or 22 years old. The interviewer marveled at his accolades in golf and asked him how it felt to be an African American golfer fighting for respect in a sport dominated by older white men. He spoke on his hard work and mental preparation, but even in his early twenties, something seemed strange about Woods. He appeared highly intelligent, but seemed hesitant to speak on his African American and Asian ancestry. He still seemed to have no problems with being referred to as “African American” or a “minority.”

Once Woods won the prestigious Master’s tournament, his popularity was sky high. African Americans began to watch intently when he played. It was shortly after that he requested not to be called African-American. He referred to himself as Cablasian. I was done with that fool. We all know the story from there- torrid affairs with various white women. To his credit, I will say that his Swedish model wife is beautiful! (laughs) Fuck Tiger Woods. Another example of someone who refused to accept what he is-someone who looks in the mirror and sees something different that we do. I just find it very ironic that the very same people who he wanted to assimilate with…the people he choose to identify with…are taking away his money and destroying his reputation. Perhaps now he is beginning to realize that no one is above reproach, and at the end of the day, millions of dollars and a posh, lavish life will not buy you respect among your race or the races of those who choose to oppose, embrace or expose you.
            To the women of the world (specifically the sistas) who feel pressured to fit a certain stigma that television force feeds down our throats, understand that no matter the shade of your skin, the length of your hair, or the proportion of your bodies…African American women are beautiful and to be celebrated. I love a sista with locks just as much as the sistas who may choose to get a perm. Unfortunately, the brainwashing is not just in the hands of MTV and BET. If you ever stop and watch the news, every news anchor is an attractive woman with light or white skin and long hair. What the hell is that about?!?
Sistas…we love y’all and I apologize for the idiotic ramblings of some of us brothas out here and our warped perceptions and expectations. Hopefully in this world where many are still color struck, you can still continue to mesmerize and turn the heads of those who can appreciate you for who you are, and the Queens can find their Kings…no matter the age, race, or class.

“We reversed nature by burning and pulling a civilized nigger apart and bull whipping the other to the point of death, all in her presence. By her being left alone, unprotected, with the MALE IMAGE DESTROYED, the ordeal caused her to move from her psychological dependent state to a frozen independent state. In this frozen psychological state of independence, she will raise her MALE and female offspring in reversed roles. For FEAR of the young males life she will psychologically train him to be MENTALLY WEAK and DEPENDENT, but PHYSICALLY STRONG. Because she has become psychologically independent, she will train her FEMALE off springs to be psychological independent. What have you got? You've got the Nigger WOMAN OUT FRONT AND THE Nigger MAN BEHIND AND SCARED.”  –The Willie Lynch Letter and The Making Of A Slave: The Breaking Process Of The African Woman

“Take all the fools out of this world and there wouldn't be any fun living in it, or profit. “ –Josh Billings

…These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray


Volume 44: When Jealousy Strikes

“Love may exist without jealousy, although this is rare; but jealousy may exist without love, and this is common.” –Unknown

            If you were to look up the word love, you’d be likely to see a plethora of definitions and opinions of what it is. Some would say it’s a strong positive emotion of regard and affection, like a man’s love for his work. Others will say it’s a profound, passionate affection for another person, a sexual passion or desire.

As beautiful as love is, love is never present without jealousy. Francois de la Rochefoucauld once said, “Jealousy is bred in doubts. When those doubts change into certainties, then the passion either ceases or turns into absolute madness.”
(Yes…I have an “inner nerd” that often retains tons of useless information like that)
            So what causes jealous love? The truth is, there are many things that can be credited to a jealous counterpart. One of the most common reasons for jealously is the assumption of infidelity and the perceived notion that one could be intertwined in a love triangle. In virtually every love triangle, the arrangement is unsuitable to one or more of those involved. One person usually winds up getting hurt-sometimes literally. A common love triangle involves one person, torn between two other suitors of vastly contrasting personalities. One of them could be a nice guy type that treats you good, and the other a physically attractive bad boy that is potentially dangerous. Eventually, choices must be made and the nice guy is often perceived as “too good to be true” and the bad boy winds up becoming the more desirable partner. Unrequited love and jealousy go hand in hand with love triangles, and although rare, some love triangles have ended in murder, suicide or long lasting aftereffects from the rejected lover.

            The only thing worse than a love triangle, is being accused of being in a love triangle by a jealous mate. Yes…it’s true. I too have been accused of creeping with someone else’s girl. Think I’m bullshitting? Well, here’s my story:

“The ear of jealousy heareth all things.” –The Holy Bible

            I wasn’t always a Photographer. Those who follow my Random Thoughts or know me personally know that I was quite the fashion design student at Cheyney University. It was the summer of 2000, and I was a 20 year-old looking for work during the summer break from college, aspiring to be a fashion designer. I was given a retail sales position in the Men’s Department at the Lord & Taylor department store on City Line Avenue in Philadelphia. I had gotten my first car just days ago- a metallic purple Honda Accord SE. A college student with a $16,000 car and a five-year payment plan would likely think, “How the hell am I gonna pay for this?” but I was on top of the world. I was getting screwed with my menial retail job, paying a mere $6.50 an hour, but I was also working as a Photographer’s Assistant (and 2 years later became a photographer myself) and that money more than made up for Lord & Taylor’s slave wages.

            To be honest, Lord & Taylor was a pretty cool job. I got a great employee discount on clothes (When you go to an HBCU, it’s imperative to stay fresh), a consistent check every week, and the company of friendly employees. The majority of employees in the Men’s Department were young, and helped me transition quickly, without making me feel like “the new guy.” The women who worked there were no Halle Berry’s, but they were cool and their likeable personalities helped the time fly by during long shifts. At the time, I was the only one of the younger employees with a reliable means of transportation. Everyone else relied on the Bus. Most of my coworkers lived in nearby West Philadelphia and if they missed their bus after a long shift, it wasn’t uncommon for them to ask for a ride home. I would take the 4 of them (often three females and one male) on a 5-8 minute ride and drop them off at their homes-it was never an inconvenience. It’s just one of those things that nice guys do, Right?

            One day during my hour-long lunch break, one of the females in my department asked to get dropped off at the Shop n Bag grocery store, which happened to be in the same complex as Lord & Taylor, just on the opposite end end-about 150 yards away. It was common for her to walk over there during a lunch break on payday to cash her check at a local bank, which was located inside of the grocery store. Her asking to be dropped off didn’t inconvenience me much, because the distance was only a minute’s drive. She explained that it was raining outside and she didn’t want to walk down and back. Minutes later, here I amMr. Nice Guy…giving a ride to a co-worker in need. She got out of my car at the main doors and said, “Can you wait for me? I’m gonna cash this check and be right back out.”
I’m thinking to myself, Here we go… Give a Nigga an inch, and they take a yard. But after all, I was still on my lunch break and had only spent about 3 minutes of it so far. This wouldn’t take long at all.
            Fifteen minutes later…here I am…double-parked outside the Shop n Bag grocery store with my face is a scowl, suddenly reminded of why they say that Nice Guys Finish Last. She comes out after about 20 minutes and before she could enter the car, she pauses and then walked over to an older model Subaru that was double-parked on the opposing side of traffic, about twelve feet in front of me. A slender guy walks over to her and they begin to exchange words. I happened to have the music up and couldn’t hear a word of what they were saying, but it didn’t look good. Their arms were flailing in the air like they were arguing and on one occasion he motioned over in the direction of my car. I smirked to myself and continued to listen to my music- impatiently waiting for this dumb girl to get back in the car so I could enjoy what was left of my lunch. Moments later, he got back into his car and she returned to mine. “Jealous Mutha-fucka,” she mumbled under her breath …as I drove off to return to work.

            I finished out my lunch break in the break room with my co-worker. An awkward silence loomed in the room, due to the parking lot confrontation witnessed just a few minutes ago. When my lunch break was over, I returned to the sales floor to earn my slave wages. As I partook in the monotonous duties of a retail worker- cleaning displays and refolding Ralph Lauren shirts-I began to ring up a few customers who had finally settled on their purchases. While scanning away and ringing up their items, I hear a voice say, “Ayo fam…lemme holla at you for a second.”
I look up, and stepping out from behind a mirrored pillar next to the waiting customers…was the very same guy that my coworker was arguing with in the parking lot while getting a ride from me. This mutha-fucka…is at my mutha-fuckin’ job! Are you serious?!? I had a thousand questions racing through my head. Is this guy some kind of jealous boyfriend? Is he here to fight? What the hell is this fool doin’ at my job?!?
So, I finished up my sales transaction and walked right over to him. After all, I didn’t do anything wrong. He stood about 5’9 and was even slimmer than I was. He looked as though he had been crying and seemed uneasy. I’m thinking to myself, Worst case scenario…he tries some dumb shit in here…Imma kick his ass up and down this sales floor easily…with my suit and shoes on! (laughing)
            He appeared nervous talking to me as I listened intently. “Look, I ain’t even here to fuck with you,” he said. “I just wanna ask you one question.”
My right hand remained clinched in a tight fist…just in case this idiot dared to try me. “Have you ever been to the house, or around our daughter?” I was standing close enough to smell the beer on his breath. I wasn’t even sure at this point if there would even be any reasoning with him. He appeared to be alone, though he was with a few others when I initially saw him in the parking lot. My patience was already wearing thin with this dumb situation. I had never been accused of messing around with someone else’s girl. I said, “Look…it’s not like that. I just work here and she asked me for a ride to cash a check. I don’t mess with any of these co-workers, don’t come to anyone’s house, and don’t deal with anyone else’s women.” He still didn’t seem convinced. Frankly, I didn’t give a shit. There were more customers that needed my assistance and I had no intention on swearing on bibles and taking polygraph tests. I told him that he could wait until I was done with my customers and we could rap-even bring her over to explain if need be. He sits on a fixture nearby, on top of some shirts that I had recently folded. Ignorant Bastard.
            You know, God works in mysterious ways. On that particular day at that particular time, our department is usually very slow and boring. Because I had some insecure moron at my job…today, business was insane. I had a line of people to deal with, and he just had to wait. He began to pace back and forth, which made me extremely nervous as I fought to hold back my laughter. My coworker was miraculously nowhere to be found. Eventually I get rid of all of the frenzied customers and looked for this mystery character. He was gone. I explained the story to one of the other employees amid all of her laughter at my unfortunate luck. I decided that I would express a few choice words to my coworker about her psychotic boyfriend coming to my job, confronting me about nonsense. Strangely, I didn’t see her for the duration of the evening. The next day I came to work, and she didn’t show up. Our manager asked if anyone had spoken to her to seen her that day. None of us knew her whereabouts. It was as though she vanished.

            The following day, I stood on the Men’s floor, bored out of my mind. As a began to ring up a sale for a customer, my register phone rang. In the event that someone calls the department store and has a question for our department, the dispatcher will transfer them to any one of the registers on the sales floor. I took the call. “Men’s department…Ron speaking.” There was heavy breathing on the other end. “Hello?” I repeated. The breathing became louder. I hung up the phone and continued working. Two minutes later, my register phone rang again. A familiar voice spoke out on the other end, almost in a whisper. “Ayo…remember me?” I began to shake my head in annoyance, because I realized it was the same moron from the other day. “How can I help you?” I asked, in my most sarcastic of tones. This game was beginning to become very annoying. The next words that followed I still remember crystal clear to this very day: “Yo…my girl… is gonna be coming back to work eventually. I’m telling you…If I ever catch you anywhere near her or with her again…I swear to God…I’m going to kill you.”

Now I was pissed. I never had my life threatened, and I wasn’t about to be threatened by some skinny ass nut-job who could barely make eye contact with me when he was standing two feet away from me two days ago.

            Now I’m from Philadelphia, and I refuse to underestimate anyone. Personally, I think he was just a dog without teeth, however those very same guys are the first ones to go running for a gun to solve their perceived problems. I knew not to take this threat lightly, so I actually did what most people in my situation would have done. I reported it. I ended up in the security office, filing a report with the officers on site, in the event that this moron would actually attempt to make good on his promise. They checked the tapes from the day that he showed up on the sales floor and they even had outside surveillance from the car that he arrived in. There was only one last thing that I had to do…inform my hood ass friends of this potential death threat. I figured if something were to happen to me…all hell was gonna break loose! (laughing) If I was gonna end up caught up in some nonsense for giving someone I wasn’t even attracted to a ride…then we would see if he was as crazy as the lunatics that I grew up with from the block. (lauging)

            My coworker never returned to work that day, and never returned to work at all. I had never seen or heard from the psychotic boyfriend either. Five weeks after the incident, it was time for me to return to college and turn the page to another chapter of my life. I never realized how quickly something as innocent as a ride for a coworker could trigger the jealousy of a jaded lover. Erica Jones once said, “Jealousy is all the fun you think they had.” I had learned to be very careful of the company that I keep. You read about love triangles and people who pay the ultimate sacrifice for a few minutes of pleasure with another person’s lover. You really hafta be careful…
“While intelligent people can often simplify the complex, a fool is more likely to complicate the simple.” –Gerald W. Grumet

…These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray…
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