C is for color, or the lack thereof

I got interested in the issue of skin color – well, always.

I’m finding this a little weird. Because of my skin color, some of the Daughter’s friends don’t believe I am black, or African-American if you prefer (I don’t), so they don’t think she’s part black.

Her first set of friends are first- or second-generation sub-Saharan Africans, so I sort of get that. But I’ve been getting the same message from her American black and even American white buddies.

In fact, we were all at a play at her school this spring, the fourth iteration of Lion King I’ve ever seen. My wife and I were sitting a dozen rows behind the Daughter and her friends. At the intermission, she and one of her friends came back to where I was seated. She specifically pointed to my hand, pointing out the variated skin tone. “See, he’s darker there. He just has this skin condition.”

As I’ve noted before, the condition is called vitiligo. Incidentally, Chuck linked to Why you don’t say what you shouldn’t say to people who look “different”, including those with vitiligo far more severe than mine. Also see vitiligo queen and Artist Creates Dolls With Vitiligo.

When I was diagnosed with it, I was extremely cautious about going outside, so paranoid about developing skin cancer. I was much paler than I am now. In fact, there were black and white pictures of me from 2010-2015 and I do not recognize myself.

My forehead is somewhat darker, but, as you may be able to see, the top of my head is still lighter, and thus much more vulnerable to sunburn or worse.

I got interested in the issue of skin color – well, always. My mom was very fair, my father much darker, and her family was not pleased when they were courting, I’ve been told. Colorism does exist in many cultures.

And when Roseanne Barr made an offensive tweet about former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, Barr’s defense was that she didn’t know Jarrett was black. Her racial identification was well-reported, but also obvious to my eye.

Of course, race in America has been complicated in what is now the United States only for about four centuries. This is interesting to me: They considered themselves white, but DNA tests told a more complex story.

For ABC Wednesday

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

9 thoughts on “C is for color, or the lack thereof”

  1. Hopefully there will come a day in which skin-color will be no more interesting than eye- or hair-color or height, and will not carry such complicated social consequences as it does in these Untied States.

  2. You know there was a time in my life when I really LOOKED at one of my sister’s and wondered if there could have been a little *mistake* some time in the history of our family. Even though her ski is white, she seemed to have some “black” features. You know what I thought? COOL! A bit of mystery and exoticism! Who cares? The racism that exists in your country goes back to the country’s own horrific actions during slavery. Both our countries are ģuilty since we used Chinese to do the dangerous work on our railroad and refused News during WW2 and belittle other races and cultures. We all may have come originally from western European countries but we were all also immigrants that built our countries into what we have today
    We should aim for looking at others as fellow human beings rather than their skin tone or eye shape or anything else!

  3. you are my wonderful black brother whom I love dearly, no mater what ‘color” you are!

  4. The day World Tour ’06 ground to a halt by the intrusion of a Wild Animal, my car was totaled, but the only injury I suffered was sunburn on the top of my head, waiting for the tow truck.

  5. Although it does not bother me at all which colour one has, never did, I can image that it must feel weird … hope though that it does not make your life uncomfortable.

    Have a splendid, ♥-warming ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♪ (ABC-W-team)

  6. When my vitiligo becomes more noticeable in the summer, no one, except maybe the children I taught, has ever commented on my giraffe pattern tan marks or even seemed aware of them. That says something about our culture, I suppose.

  7. My parents were farmers from the Philippines. The Mama liked to brag she was fair because of the Spanish blood she inherited. She used to tsk at me, especially the darker I got in summer, saying I took after the Daddy. I don’t know if there’s still a prejudice against darker skin among the younger generations in the Philippines. I always thought for my mom’s generation, and maybe the one after, that having fair skin equated to being from the upper class.

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