Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Death Of Dr. Donda West

The death of Kanye's mother, Dr. Donda West
and the circumstances surrounding her passing
struck a deep cord with me. I often marvel at how Black people, especially those in the entertainment industry, have become so caught up in the Hollywood frenzy of acquiring facial features and undergoing plastic surgery as a means of improving on what God has already made perfect.

The whole situation reeks to me of a deep sense of self hatred and self loathing. For me, the plastic surgery craze amongst Black folks stems from a desire, not only to look more European (whatever that means, because Europeans, before they came to America had all types of features, hair textures and skin tones, and many were not considered "White.") but also to look like someone other than who you are, who your momma is, who your grandmother is. It is a rejection of the self plain and simple.

It is evident and all around us, that Black people are lightening our skin and straightening our hair as well as our noses and are suffering from a split personality that says "I am proud to be Black or African- American," all the while desiring look less and less "African" (which also includes various skin tones, hair textures and facial features), but I digress. The bottom line is that White Supremacy and Institutionalized racism have caused us to internalize a deep hatred for how we look and most of us are unaware or claim to be unaware of the phenomenon.

Tyra Banks will feature a show that talks about how she has cellulite and how she is naturally a big girl, but will not mention her many nose jobs or how she almost is never seen with natural hair or features anyone on her show with natural hair. Many of us play this game and stand up and say we are proud to be "African-Americans" then do whatever it takes to make sure that anything identifiably "African" about us is erased.

We need to really examine our values as individuals, but also a a race. And also look at the message we send to the world when blonde weaves and straight noses have become our standard of beauty. Did our ancestors fight the good fight, die and experience unspeakable brutality for us to become literal "Imitations of Life?" We are imitating the behavior and adopting the value system of those who seek to oppress us and keep us from being acknowledged as fully human. We are using our intelligence, our brilliance and our culture and selling it to the highest bidder and wondering why our children are rebelling. Can they tell the difference between a drug lord and a accomplished actor, singer or rapper? No, because almost everyone of them is dripping with blood diamonds and walking with a woman who does not look like their mama on their arms.

Dr. West's death is a tragedy. One, because she was an inspiration to so many and gave us the gift of Kanye, a powerful and beautiful soul who has blessed us with his music and two, because Dr. West was a beautiful sister, intelligent and strong and powerful in her own right, yet she did not think she looked good enough the way she was, and for some reason did not hire a personal trainer, or a personal chef (which I am sure she could have afforded) in order to lose the weight and possibly the inches off of her breasts in a more healthy and integrative manner.

I hate to say this and reiterate what Bill Cosby and others are saying but "Come On People!" We cannot claim to be proud as African-Americans and not take care of our bodies, our minds, and truly love ourselves and at the same time slice up our noses, alter our breasts, lighten our skin and expect not to pay a very high price. It goes against spiritual law to claim to love yourself, then seek to erase your ancestors memory from your body and your face. Our bodies are our last frontier. They are the last thing that we have control over. Yet, they are being conquered, reshaped, shifted, lightened and tightened to exemplify a White ideal that does not really exist. It is an illusion. Death is not.

My prayers go out to Kanye and his family and I hope and pray that Kanye will use this tragedy to dig deep within himself and emerge a the true voice of a generation that he is.



Dionne said...

This echoes something I was saying to my cousin just this week, when I told her that Michael Jackson's song, Man in the Mirror is so on point for what "we" need to deal with and love but how ironic it is that he could have sung a song like that and yet mutilate his body to the point where he is completely unrecognizable to his original fans.

Self hatred is not always so blatant nor are the means in which we abuse each other and our selves.

Our body temples, have been mutilated, abused,drugged,starved, stuffed,cut, colored, stripped,pulled, torn and otherwise tucked into guises of "beauty" that leaves us strangers tot he man in the mirror when we take a look.

The road is littered with the bodies and lives of those of us who take the wide and easy road to beauty, love and acceptance at any cost because we are either too lazy or hasty to do the hard work that would be required to make a real and lasting change.

This is a tragedy that is all too often repeated. I lost a family member I had never met, who went into the hospital healthy but never made it back out due to her desire to loose a few pounds. She went in to staple her stomach. She left her husband and 4 kids behind without a mother, wife, sister, daughter-in-law, friend, cousin. I never got to meet her in life but came to see the devastating effects still felt from her death. My cousin followed her in death exactly one year later on her death anniversary.

How many of us must die, because we can't, won't or don't love ourselves as God made us and would prefer to take the "fashionable" fast way to "youthful, slim figured beauty".

Only each of us can answer this question, and all of us should know the answer.

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I'm including a link to a blog a sister-friend runs that you might find interesting.

Be well!

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Anonymous said...

I so totally agree with your comment. I feel bad for Kanye loosing his mother and the community loosing an intelligent and gifted daughter. I have worked in public health for many years and so many people - so many of our people just do not get it. We are responsible for our health and our lives. One of thte things that I have learned recently is that so much of the bottled and tap water that we drink is acid and is making us ill. There is a system from Japan that is healing people with many illnesses, diseases and chronic conditions caused by over acidification of the body. They have used this system in hospitals in Japan for over 40 years. Please check out this web site for more information on true healing and wellness in the name of self-determination:

Thanks and many blessings of health to all who reads these words.


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