Blonde Hair Blue Eyes Black Girl


Tamar 'Kush' Francis discusses how we view beauty in the Black community

From an early age children are taught that their looks matter. In  the 1950’s, Dr Kenneth Clark conducted a doll test with Black children  where he asked them to choose between a Black doll and a White doll based upon questions he asked them with regards to beauty, ugliness, good and bad behaviour. In 2007 a test of the exact nature was conducted to see if any progression has been made since then. The results indicated that 15 out of the 21 children preferred the White doll when asked which doll was ‘good’, the prettiest and the smartest. In her Dissertation titled “Blonde Hair, Blue Eye, Black Girl”, Kush from OBU examined how Black    teenage girls develop a concept of their own beauty.


The notion that the history of African people begins with the period of enslavement is misguided. Some parents  who have worked hard to assimilate into British culture may have left the African Caribbean culture bequeathed to them behind, so they cannot give sufficient  cultural grounding  and as a result young people may consequently feel culturally   inadequate and gravitate toward belonging to a pseudo family.


The linked histories of Europe and Africa and indeed America have not been truthfully conveyed in school curricular. In history lessons Africans may still be portrayed overtly and covertly as being of the lowest human order, malnourished, diseased and needy recipients of charitable organisations. This causes Black children to distance themselves from anything African, (even their heritage) and become philosophically estranged and psychologically confused


One of the enduring legacies of the MA’AFA (Kiswahili word which means great disaster and terrible loss usually referred to as the transatlantic slave trade) is the perpetuation of a colour caste system institutionalised during African enslavement. Lighter skinned African people, or indeed the dual heritage children born as result of extensive and systematic rape by slavers of African women were often afforded marginally better treatment at the hands of their enslavers.


If for a minute we imagine the western standard of beauty as a pyramid: it undeniably places the natural features of the Black African woman  (e.g dark skin, , wide nose, )and; the features of the White western woman with fair skin, long hair, firmly at the top and second to none.


Showing positive images of everyday Black women seeks to undermine, tarnish and destroy the great efforts of the colonial western beauty empire to keep Black women under bondage and as the greatest consumers in the cosmetics and hair industry.

Black women have been forced to make one of two choices. The first choice is either rejecting the notion of colonial beauty altogether and attempt to repatriate some power of their own identity The second option, which is the popular choice for  many of Black women, is to gradually make an attempt to climb their way to the top of the pyramid, by way of body augmentations, hair weaves and/or  skin bleaching.


Let us remember that White racism aims to create a world where many people believe that White is associated with all good things and Black with all things bad. Everyday definitions, expressions and images are used to reinforce the association of Black with bad and White with Good.


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