PAPER BAG TEST: IS THE TEST STILL RELEVANT TODAY

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“Who should receive the better treatment?”


the test

The paper bag test is a test that was given to Black people in the past to figure out how much privilege should the person truly have in society. It not only is what enabled certain Black people to go to schools, it aided in controlling who worked jobs, dated/marriage, and who lived in certain neighborhoods. But what it ultimately did was create a divide in the Black community. Because now it was a way to pin two sides against each other even though socially and ethnically they were the same group. This would go on to create decades of turmoil in America.

dating in America

Now, as we put this in its proper context today, we have to acknowledge the fact that this is not how things are done today. But what about dating in society, is this still a reality? Because there is still this coloration mentality of who gets treated better, the dark skin or the light skin Black people. And there are still people not only in Black communities, but also outside that choose to go with the light side. Black people choose for the idea of having children that look more racially ambiguous as to thwart off issues that child will face in life. And any other group so that their child don’t have to deal with the racial tension. Because people will automatically assume that person who is lighter is non-Black.

employment

Hiring someone that looks more biracial is seen as being very neutral in respects to color. The darker the person, the more intimidating the person is seen as. So you hire the lighter person because they will make people feel a lot more relaxed on the job. And what this does is creates a friction as well within a community. Where now if you are lighter, then you feel tension from within your own group. Yet both of you are still in the same social position. Because that lighter person attaining the work is still on a conditional basis.

community living

Living in certain neighborhoods, you may be seen as more accepting than if moving into the neighborhood being darker. Because the lighter you are, you’ll be perceived as a couple that is more racially ambiguous. And if your children are born, chances are they look more like they are “supposed” to belong in the area. Then again, walking around that neighborhood when your child is dark as night can tend to arise suspicion. And now you are faced with a decision to stay and deal or to move from the area. So to be honest, there are still social aspects of the paper bag test that still keeps two groups within a group disconnected and bickering.


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KWANZAA: DAY 1, UMOJA

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“Community involvement.”


Yesterday was day one of the celebration Kwanzaa. Day one focuses on Umoja, which is the community, familial, and ethnic unity. For those of you that don’t know what Kwanzaa is as a holiday, it was created back in the late 1960’s as a celebration to acknowledge those of African heritage. There are seven core principles, and yesterday was the day of that principle Umoja. And if you are African American, what does Umoja mean to you? I grew up in a predominantly African American family, but we celebrated Christmas my whole life. Now that I am an adult, I more and more lean toward the celebration of Kwanzaa. One of the reasons is because of the capitalist view of the holiday that is Christmas. But that is just a small aspect of the Christmas holiday. A second reason is that when you come from such a dismantled community, a holiday celebrating the uplifting of you becomes quite important.

And what I have noticed about the holiday is that it has grown year by year in popularity. More people are joining and leaving Christmas in greater numbers. Because of what it promotes, which brings me to day one. The community, family, and ethnic group’s togetherness. Nothing else in America is designed to uplift Black people. So with an introduction of Kwanzaa, it becomes very special. Bringing together friends and family, members of the community, working on a common core belief. And that belief is to take care of the people around you. Not just the ones who you share a kinship with, but the ones who live right next door. And with so much fragmentation, who could blame anyone for not wanting to take part in the festivities.

Day one is very important, if not the most important day because without that close bind between friends, family, and community, it becomes impossible to have the other six days that lead up to the last day. So I say Umoja, build relationships and get o know those around you. As well as strengthen the ties of kinship that already exist.


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CULTURAL APPROPRIATION: HOW AFRICANS RECEIVE AFRICAN AMERICANS IN AFRICAN ATTIRE

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“Is it and to what degree?”


There is this unspoken relationship that is between the indigenous people of Africa and those of us who were brought over to the Americas is ongoing. There is this constant disconnect that they really don’t care for us in the states. And the converse feeling is that we tend to look at them not as fondly. But lately I have noticed more and more of the African American population wearing traditional African attire. And then the question comes up regarding is this a form a cultural appropriation. And in my opinion, it is seen as cultural appropriation because it is not the culture in which we have here in America. Culture is not necessarily being the same skin tone.

But I want to know to what degree is this cultural appropriation? And how is it received when we as African Americans wear attire from Africa. Because from my understanding, the print in the clothing of African attire tells a story. In America it looks nice to those of us who wear the clothing. Me myself, I have never worn any clothing that is synonymous with Africa. All the clothing I wear is of this country that is America. Interestingly enough, I have been asked by numerous people before ever hearing me speak am I from Africa. And my response has always been no, but I found it interesting that people would ask. But this does not qualify me to wear such attire not of America.

This topic has always been brought up about us regarding everyone else in attire we created in America. But I never stop to ever think about it as cultural appropriation when we as African Americans wear the clothing of Africa. Then again, how do Africans receive non-Black groups such as Europeans when they wear African clothing. I will admit, I have seen European men and women wearing African clothing and it always appeared odd to me. And not odd like why are they wearing it. But odd in the sense of, “Hmmm, this is different.” And that feeling has come from the notion that I know that they didn’t create it. It just looks less authentic than when a non person of color is wearing the clothes. But this also goes both ways. I don’t tend to see African Americans bothered by Africans wearing clothing we made popular in America.

And in the end, it’s not about who wears the clothing of what other culture. A lot of people are protective because people tend to run it off as their own. And then they disregard where they found this idea. And now the world credits this person for something that has been in existence for centuries, if not longer. And what it does is that it cheapens the cultures identity. And to Africans as with many other groups, they don’t look at their clothing as a mere fad, but an extension of their identity.


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What’s Black and White?

Recently in the news, the topic of race and racism has popped it’s head once again. Let’s first be clear, Race is the classification of a species with similar physical characteristics. We as humans are one race that belong to the same group. Now there are other species that are similar to humans; the obvious being Apes. There is a one percent difference between us and our Ape friends, which is fairly close. Racism is the prejudice against a race that is different than your own, more often seen as ones’ superiority over another race. So let me get this straight, Humans are racist against chickens. No, humans are racist against cows, but that doesn’t make sense either. So how can two people from the same species be seen as racist against another. Well, that’s where social relationships come into place. A human is not capable of being racist being that we belong to the same race. But man has figured out a way to get the same species to feel that one group within the same species is better or the lesser in comparison to the other. How does manage to happen? If we evolved together how do you convince people that race is different? Well, from the out of Africa theory that stated we evolved in present day Ethiopia, and later ventured out into the world. Given that we didn’t have internet to connect us, as time went on, and we evolved, we eventually met up with our long lost ancestors. But there were no records of the out of Africa theory, they just ventured out. So with that said, there’s no wonder why groups of people clashed and fought with each other. Eventually conquering lands and forcing each other in slavery and other forms of subjugation and persecution.

As far as America is concerned, we have a color construct that exist in our nation. This color line has been in this country going back a few centuries. It didn’t start with the Native Americans, but with the Trans Atlantic Slave trade. There had to be e method to keep people from blending together because had this had happened, the slave owners would be wiped from existence. How, well for example, Black and White gives way to a more Black looking child. When that child is with Black, then the is still related to the White relative by blood, yet the stand a chance of being full Black. Now those words pop up again; Black and White. What is Black and White? Is it a color or more so is it an idea of some sort? Because yes, skin color can be classified as White of Black, but the idea of Black or White in America or the Americas is a social construct. For example, a man from France and a woman from Italy are actually interracial because they belong to two separate groups within the race that is human. But in America, they are seen as a White man and a White woman. How and why does this happen is a topic of discussion. From my understanding this is done so as to make people think they are different for self preservation reasons. Ethnically, America is extremely diverse, but color boundaries make creates fewer groups in the country. This is where you get the fight between Blacks and Whites.

Black people for the most part, due to the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade are unable to trace their ancestry. So anyone who bares our resemblance typically falls under that category. Germans, Polish, Dutch, Irish Italians, Sicilians, Spaniards, English, Portuguese, Swiss, etc. fall under White. Now Asians are different than Europeans, but Russians who are Asians, fall under White in America. Africans new to America fall under Black, and anyone East of Russia and the Middle East are considered East Asian. Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Tai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, etc. belong to the East Asian community. Now Latinos are interesting because Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Colombians, Venezuelans, Chileans, Argentines, and Brazilians all are under this category. But some of these people look more African so they fall under Black in the Americas and those that bare the resemblance of Europeans fall under White. So a Cuban that looks European is White in the United States and a Cuban that looks African is Black in the United States. Now both of them are from the same country, but become different as they come to the U.S.A. And why is this you say, once again self preservation.

But not also self preservation, but also as a way to designate your enemy. We place a color label so we can keep almost like a tab on groups of people we perceive to be different that ourselves. What ruins this whole plan is Latin America in the United States. Because a Dominican can be considered Black in America or White in America, but are of Mixed ancestry. You see how confusing it all is to someone who is from America, so understandably it will be to a foreigner. Another wrench throw into the game is religion. The United States has become so enthralled with labeling by way of skin color, we try to capture this same judgement with religion and it can fall short. This is why the fight against radicals using Islam to push their cause can be tough. Religion is a belief, with less than 1/3 of Muslim from Saudi Arabia and over 1 billion worldwide it’s nearly impossible to label. In the U.S.A., color constructing allows for you to go, this group is to blame for this and that group is to blame for that; how can you do this with religion. For example, Islam states that if life is threatened and death is imminent, act as your enemies to stay alive. How do you label a group that can easily blend into society if worst comes to worst. I’ll tell you how we come up with labels because we do it through Black and White. We use Black and White to categorize so much that we try to implement it via religion and it falls short.

The confusion of not being able to label puts some groups at what they consider a disadvantage. If we can not say what’s Black or White or Brown, how can one continue to oppress or place blame on another. Well Black and White are slowly moving away from color to an overall idea. Black is perceived as the lesser and White is seen as more in charge. With these color constructs slowly fading, eliminating into nonexistence, man must now choose a new paradigm. The new paradigm socially is class to place people in groups. Black and White will still be the idea for what’s rich and poor, good or bad, but social class will make it so that a poor White person (skin color) is Black (socially) and a rich Black person (skin) is White (socially). The confusion will forever exist as long as man continues to find ways to control the masses by making us feel we are more different than we are similar.