Rapper Yung Berg recently said he was a pro-wash-n-wear, anti-“black butt,” self-described racist for lighter girls raising the hackles of many. He’s an idiot, but he’s also more proof that were not going to get past the color issue in black culture if we don’t talk about it.
“Young who now?”
It’s so hard for The Snob to keep up with the rappers now-a-days. Not so dissimilar from the 80s and 90s when everyone was an “MC” or “DJ” something or other, today everyone’s a “Young” or a “Lil’.” I get them all confused. They all have neck tats. They all dress like they were gang raped by a Hot Topic and Pharrell Williams. They all rap about how their penis is the most magical, awesome penis in the history of penises. They all disguise disgusting “jump off” freak fantasies and love ballads. (See: “Bust It Baby”) They all look like they have mouth herpes. So let’s just say, The Snob is not a fan.
The Snob is a fan of men who can conjugate subject-verb agreements. Who are pleasant conversationalists of cool and collected demeanor. Who love their mothers and are respectful of the opposite sex. And have a real name, not some childish nickname, but a grown up name like Keith or Hakeem or Jacob or Wexley. Anything you can actually print on a business card. Hell, I like a guy with a business card. But Young-Lil-Super-Penis? Not interested at all.
That’s why I was slow on the up-take when my readers kept trying to drop hints about this Yung Berg character. I was using him in my celebrity photo layout because of how utterly ridiculous he looked (re: Hot Topic sexual assault). People were trying to let me know “the color game” was in full effect mode with this rascal.
He’s a little racist, he said? Not down with “black butts?” A “swimming pool test?” For me it was laughable because Berg was breaking one of the Secret Council of American Negroes’ Ten Commandments:
Thou shalt not divideth our sisters into “wannabees” and “jigaboos” for purely aesthetic reasons.
I’ll give Berg negative two points for honesty in both the sexism and the colorism apparent in that statement. I don’t believe his apology. Any man who gets grown on the radio and straight up says light is right wasn’t misspeaking. He likes ’em straight and pale. Great. Good to know.
And I’m going to say what countless black women already know — a lot of men think like this Yung Berg character. A lot. Most though tend to remember the commandment and keep their mouths shut. Even a slight inference for a preference for the Halle Berry end of the spectrum will reward you with side-eyes, death-stares, curses and roots placed upon you. This is largely so because our society has already decided who’s beautiful and we are not it.
It’s a sensitive issue.
To be routinely told over and over you are not desirable, admirable or a symbol of femininity can be devastating on the ego. A rejection of “baby hair” and brown gel and the fantasy of a woman who looks perfect at all times and farts Chanel No. 5 is essentially a rejection for any black woman who doesn’t look white enough.
Since the majority of us can’t do anything about not being born named Becky with wash-n-go hair, Berg’s statement is a pretty crude thing to throw in the faces of countless black women of all shades.
We were all raised in the same society where the Western ideal of beauty is the most coveted. For all the efforts at self-esteem boosting like “black is beautiful,” “I love dark women,” “I love dark men,” “blacker the berry the sweeter the juice,” the struggle in the face of blond ambitions continues. You could put up a buck naked, baby-oiled up, mile-high poster of Naomi Campbell, Djimon Hounsou, Serena Williams and Tyson Beckford and, sure, it would cause traffic accidents on the interstate, there would still be some people thinking, “But what is Zoe Kravitz doing?”
It irritates when black people go into denial about this as if we’d fixed the color issue in 1979, when people are completely divorced from the idea of why they want straight hair or the creep factor surrounding of guys I’ve met who’ve asked me to toss my hair around when it was straight. This is some deep seeded pathology and all the Serena Williamses in the world are not going to cure it. As long as the Western standard is the standard, even if it’s only the standard in our subconscious minds, people are still going to say foolish things like “swimming pool test.”
We should no longer get mad at this sort of ignorance and just call it what it is — tacky. I have a strong “just date the white woman already” policy for all men who desire light-skinned women then give them hell the whole time for not fulfilling their Aryan allusions, balking at us when we wrap our hair in scarves and being annoyed when we wear our hair natural because we want to give the perm a rest.
I don’t hate these men for wanting what they want. They get their negative two points for honesty as well. Now please, go date the white woman. Stop making us brown skin and lighter women miserable. I already knew I didn’t want Young Berg before he opened up his mouth, but now that he has, what have black women actually lost here? Getting this fool out of the gene pool is a net gain. I wish more people were honest about it so we could actually discuss the issue and get some of the pathology worked out for the sake of our children. I don’t like to see little black girls and black boys growing up thinking Heidi Klum is the prototype. Yes, she’s gorgeous, but a lot of other women are too. There needs to be an expansion in our definition of beauty.
We also need to get
to a point where we can talk about who and what people find attractive without being accused of being a colorist (or worse yet, a sell-out). Now Berg straight up embraced colorism even going so far as to call himself a “racist,” so he doesn’t count, but not every black man or woman who is dating or married to a different ethnicity or a partner much lighter than them is a self-loathing hater. We don’t need to over compensate for the lack of dark love by hating on pale people. There was a period when I was in college where people looked at me like I was insane for finding Allen Payne attractive when dark skin men were in style.
One, ew, I don’t believe in treating people like fetishes. If dark is “in style” that implies it could go out of style and good looking should never go out of style.
Two, they completely ignored the naked Tyson Beckford calendar I owned.
I feel pretty secure in my love of all things Negro so I’m fine with saying Keanu Reeves is hot and that Russell Wong could get it almost any day of the week, but it does irritate me when people make inferences that because I love incognegro actor Wentworth Miller and the green-hazel-eyed TJ Holmes I must have black man issues. (I do possess an inappropriate love for Isaiah Washington and have only the most longing and prurient desires for actor/musician Leon but Hollywood doesn’t present me with an abundance of photography of them like it does for Miller.) The Snob has always loved “the spectrum,” not just a solo shade. I don’t think you have to ignore how delicious Daniel Sunjata or Lisa Bonet is to make up for the lack of dark love in popular culture. You can embrace both, boost both and use them as examples of the variety of beauty within black culture.
Much like having a perm doesn’t mean you’re a bougie sell-out, sometimes saying you think Jennifer Freeman is hot is just about Jennifer Freeman being hot. Leave out the litmus tests for racial pride and focus on the actions, or in this case, words, of individuals who are unabashed in their “no pressing combs need apply” standard of beauty.
There’s nothing wrong with loving any part of black beauty. It’s the hate that has always been the problem.