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Jay-Z, his nose, your nose, and the Pope's black Fiat

06 Oct 2015 at 20:53hrs | Views
At the Washington DC's Joint Base Andrews Airport, President Barack Obama and his cavalcade of men in black shepherded Pope Francis through an ecstatic crowd to a tiny black Fiat. Inane questions ping-ponged my mind; why is the Pope's car in black? Why are the SUVs in black? Why are the escorts dressed in black suits? Why not White, Red, Blue, or any other color? I understood why. As soon as the gigantic black SUVs nestled the little black Fiat, the color black took precedence, and in a flash the little black car exuded power.

As I watched the motorcade speed away, I was reminded of Stephanie Adams's description of the color black in her book "Black: The History of the Color of the Occult," in which she writes:
"Black is actually a rich and powerful combination of every color of the rainbow…No other color can take on such a life-like form. When it is revered, it actually reveals beauty. And when it is accepted, it can actually give comfort. When it is no longer feared, it provides solace."

Adams's words gave me a sense of self-worthy. I was proud to see the color I am associated with at the epicenter of power. It is not often that I feel the way I did. A week prior, I was an observer in a Social Inequality discussion in which students, black and white, tackled the subject of race head on. Among them was the outspoken Wilbur. He digressed and posed the question of the day: How come Jay-Z has never been taunted for his thick lips and broad nose?

As the debate progressed Wilbur became even more self-loathing. When asked how he felt to be black, he quipped: "Think about the history associated with the color black. Who would be happy with that?"

It was clear Wilbur hated for who he was. He reminded me of The Guardian columnist, Black-Canadian Orville Lloyd Douglas, who, back in 2013 wrote a highly-charged article "Why I hate being a Black Man" in which he candidly expressed his feelings about being a black man. He wrote:

"There is nothing special or wonderful about being a black male - it is a life of misery and shame…a lot of black men don't want to acknowledge the feeling of disgust we have for ourselves…I can honestly say I hate a black male. Although black people like to wax poetic about loving their label I hate "being black"…honestly, who would want to be black? Who would want people to be terrified of you and not want to sit next to you on public transportation? Who would want to have this dark skin, broad nose, large thick lips, and wake up in the morning being despised by the rest of the world?"

In actual fact Douglas was the reason the discussion was held. What had started off as a mere debate, led to the "Clark Doll Experiment." For those who are not familiar with the experiment, in 1939, African-American psychologists Dr. Kenneth Bancroft Clark and his wife Mamie, in their study of children's attitudes about race in segregated America, asked black children between the ages of six and nine to choose between a black doll and a white doll. The experiment required a child to answer questions about which of the doll they preferred. Some of the questions are shown below:
 - Show me the doll that you like best or that you'd like to play with
 - Show me the doll that is the ‘nice' doll
 - Show me the doll that looks bad

The overwhelming majority of children preferred a white doll to a black one. They associated white dolls to being "pretty" and "good," and black dolls to being "ugly" and "bad." Similarly, students replicated the experiment with Orville Douglas and Mayor of Toronto Rod Ford as paradigms. Bear in mind this is a gathering of ten blacks and thirty whites between the ages of 20 and30 years.

They rephrased the questions as shown below:

- Show me the person that you like best or that you'd like to associate with
Result: Ford 50%, Douglas 35%, Neutral: 15%
Reason: Whites are more approachable 

 - Show me the person that is the handsome one
Result: Ford 20%, Douglas 20%
Reason: beauty is in the eyes of the beholder

 - Show me the person that you think is intelligent
Result: Ford 65%, Douglas 35%
Reason: Too many blacks without a college education

 - Show me the person that is likely to rob you
Result: Douglas 45%, Ford 30%, Either 25%
Reason: High rates of poverty in black communities 

 - Show me the person that is likely to kill you
Result: Ford 52%, Douglas 48%
Reason: White obsession with guns

Students then addressed Wilbur's question; "How come Jay-Z has never been taunted for his thick lips and broad nose?" They picked the three images below and conducted the same experiment. 


The Carter-Postlethwaite-Chan experiment yielded some surprising results:

Show me the person that you like best or that you'd like to associate with
Result: Jay-Z 40%, Chan 32%, Postlethwaite 28%
Reason: Jay-Z is an icon; Jay-Z is influential

Show me the person that is the 'handsome' one
Result: Chan 30%, Jay-Z 30%, Postlethwaite 30%
Result: Their roles in the world takes the eye away from their looks

Show me the person that you think is 'intelligent'
Result: Postlethwaite 33%, Chan 31%, Jay-Z 30%, Spoils: 6%
Reason: They are all intelligent in their own right

Show me the person that you think is likely to rob you
Result: none
Reason: They are rich

Show me the person that you think is likely to kill you
Result: all
Reason: They can afford a gun; they are insecure

In responding to Wilbur, many white students said Jay-Z has transcended race. One white student called him "The face of New York," despite his facial features. Another described him as an intellectual cultural genius "whose music genre has changed racial politics." They said they would have treated Douglas the same way if he had exhibited self-love, self-assurance, self-confidence, and self-reliance on the bus, at work, and in his article.

One student added: "It is the same way we treat Kanye West, Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, Dave Chappelle, Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Shaquille O'Neal, Eddy Murphy, Dan Cheadle, Kevin Hart, and Kevin Durant. Their impact overshadows who they are and how they look like."

I was thinking about the Pope's tiny black Fiat and how it accentuated, not its size or structure, but its power. It showed why black has become a ceremonial color. Watching Obama drive off in his black limo called The Beast I saw how Americans love power. They are obsessed with black because it gives them a sense of security, power, and control. It gives the affluent elegance, sophistication, confidence, wealth, class, and authority. It is not only in America, but also in many other parts of the world, the color black infers self-control and discipline. In China it is allied with knowledge, emotional protection, money, income, power, stability, prosperity, and good health.

In Africa, therefore, the color black must mean much more. It must be connected to influence, inspiration, effect, encouragement, stimulus, incentive, and of course intelligence, wisdom, maturity, and masculinity. It is such merits that can put the African beyond color and appearance.
So, next time you find yourself before a mirror, look again at your nose and lips. There is absolutely nothing wrong with them. Your nose is no worse than many non-blacks noses around the world. As for your lips; they are the admiration of many. American celebrities are resorting to injectable dermal fillers to make their lips look fuller (lip augmentation).

Don't feel like Orville Lloyd Douglas and fill your mind with the color black that is associated with death, mourning, the devil, mystery, fear, threatening, slavery, unhygienic, primitive, unintelligent, rituals, failure, damnation, and hell. Feel like Jay-Z and fill your mind with self-love. Remember, your color represents the absolute limitless boundary of success. Reject the senseless Douglas syndrome of self-hate and love who you are.

Let me end by thanking the Pope's powerful tiny black Fiat for this article.
Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner, historian, author, and a doctoral candidate.  Learn more about him on his website On it you shall access his autobiography, articles, and books.  Contact him, blog, or join in the debate. ©Ruwe2011

Source - Field Ruwe
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