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.