I am not Black, I am Fair Skinned…
What do you think about this?
Wendy: Is it hard to be a black girl model?
Devyn: I don’t really consider myself to be a black girl model. I mean, I know what my ethnicity is, but I’m fair-skinned and I feel like I have an international look.
Naomi Campbell wasn’t happy about Devyn’s statement and Campbell was heard in the background saying things that I won’t repeat here. However, there are supermodels darker than Devyn, such as, Grace jones, Naomi Campbell, Iman and Alek Wek, who have all appeared in international shows for the world’s most popular couturiers. So what was Devyn thinking?
Her comment was considered to be outrageous, and it sparked controversy, but my guess is Devyn was just saying what many people think. I understand that dark skinned models have had to fight to get to where they are today, and she doesn’t want the stigma that is attached to it. I get that. As far back as the eighteenth-century, prominent scientists such as Robert Knox and his peers, went out of their way to prove that non-white people were genetically inferior to white people, and for many years this was the hypothesis regarding race. If you truly want to depress yourself, you can read Knox’s paper called The Races of Men. Nevertheless, between slavery, colonialism, and apartheid society has been told that non-white skin is wrong, unworthy, unsexy, the opposite of angelic, doesn’t sell, blah, blah blah. People read and watched those disseminated messages, until they believed and internalised them.
Internalised racism. How about that? Racism against yourself.
It is one thing to succeed in colonising a country, but when you have successfully colonised a mind, you have succeeded indeed.
Sandra Laing’s life story is an example of a family that never came to terms with its apparently black heritage, and it eventually tore them asunder. Sandra was born in apartheid South Africa in 1955, to two white parents. Sandra however, had afro hair and darker skin. The white middle classed, pro apartheid society that she lived in, considered her to be black, and her father had to undergo a blood typing test to prove that she was his daughter. I saw the biographical story, and I personally believe that he had love for her. He worried about her wellbeing, drove her to school on her first day, held her hand, consoled her…All the things that a loving father would do. But there was something sinister about this love, because her parents could not accept that she was black. They loved her on the condition that she must think herself white, and learn to behave like a white person. How does one do that?
At one point Mr Laing took his case to court and fought a legal battle in order for Sandra to be reclassified as a white person, so that she could attend an all white school. Her parents sent her on a series of dates with white boys, in order that she could be assimilated into the white Afrikaner society. The experience with the first guy she dated was just plain awkward. The white Afrikaners in the restaurant that they went to, made it clear that her presence, or her black presence with a white boy, was unwelcome. She eventually excused herself, went to the ladies bathroom and climbed out of the window to escape. (I would have just opted for the door.) She was driven home by one of her father’s black labourers, whom she later fell in love with. This was when her father’s love began to run dry. He didn’t seem as if he would tolerate her copulating with a black man, and at one point, Mr Laing loaded a gun and began shooting at her lover.
Sandra became pregnant and was made to choose between her parents and her boyfriend, she chose her boyfriend and moved to Swaziland with him. Whilst Sandra’s mum made some effort to be reconciled with her, Mr Laing disowned her. Sandra married the black man who later divorced her for being a ‘white curse’ on him….You just can’t win can you?
According to the ‘one-drop rule’ it only takes one drop of blood, somewhere in you, for you to be classified as black. We are what we are, and I think that there was black blood somewhere in the Laing family lineage. If her parents could have accepted that, they would have saved themselves a lot of strife.
Mr Laing died before meeting Sandra again, and when Sandra finally traced her mother, years later, Mrs Laing was also dying. An entire family was destroyed.
Personally, I think it’s a sad day when anyone, black or white, has to negate their heritage, either because they don’t feel comfortable with it, or because they have been made to feel uncomfortable about it.
Knowing who you are has to be the best thing that you can do for your self-esteem.
I’m not sure about you, but I always find myself drawn to people who are comfortable in their own skin.
Read more from me on the AOL News Website Hufiington Post U.K.