Are we less African just because our skin-tones are lighter or because some of us come from family backgrounds with interracial marriages? I speak for the lighter-skinned, the mulattos, the half-castes, and the albinos.
One day on my way to a morning Public Relations lecture at the University a few years back I noticed an edition of the African Magazine being sold on the road side. I slowed down to see who was on the front page and what it said. What I saw didn’t surprise me but made me angry. That day we were studying about how the media portrays certain people and places in a certain way and often creates a false representation or perception. For instance, how America is portrayed as beautiful, wealthy yet it has some quite impoverished places, slums and people on the streets going a day without a meal. Or how Africa is commonly portrayed with pictures of little dirty and malnourished children despite the several aspects of beauty, development and healthy children present on the same continent.
My mind wasn’t quite settled and I asked why even the African Magazine was only showing really dark-skinned ladies to represent African women and why the only time I saw the picture of someone light-skinned on the cover—she had to be someone wealthy, famous and influential as if this is what a lighter-skinned African lady would have to possess to qualify as purely African in a publication.
There is this wonderful community of talented poets I used to spend some time with over the weekends listening to interesting and intelligently written poetic pieces in the Lantern Meet at the National Theater. Again, while there I noticed so many poems on the theme of racism and discrimination focused only on two groups—the black and white. My question then turned to ‘where do the rest of us belong and if every race should blame the other then which race do we belong to and who do we blame? I ask on behalf of all those whose skin-tone cannot be wholly called white or black—for those of us born with lighter complexions, children of interracial marriages, mulattos, the yellow, brown and red people as presented in the satirical book of the Insect Play by the Capek brothers.
I guess those of us who belong in-between and about may rightfully place our quarrel with the white and black. Yes. If the black claim the white man treated them as slaves and insult the white skin then they insult us too and when the white insult the black then they insult us as well in the process. The better option—it is high time both sides stopped the bickering about whatever happened in the past, awake from the racial grudges of our histories, realize that the white and black man today is not the father but the grandchild and thus should not be made to answer for the sins committed by ancestors on either side.
If white and black want to fight each other over something then let either side pick a new theme and please leave colour out of it. Otherwise those of us in-between and about will arise against both and there will be no winning sides.
We are African enough despite our skin-tones or family backgrounds and there’s no debating it! The same goes for our friends in India, Haiti, the Arab world, Europe and the US who don’t look ‘white-enough’—they too should not be made to feel like they don’t belong just because of their skin-tones.