Opinionista Xhanti Payi 8 April 2013

The ‘white’ stuff: Thanks, but no thanks

Here we go again. The racist whites think we are ugly, and they have the wounding audacity to say it out loud. Boo hoo!

The furore created by the results of an informal poll taken by a University of Cape Town (UCT) student in which she investigates fellow students’ preferences within races says less about white people than it does about blacks. The question is not whether white people find black people attractive, buy why black people are so bothered and wounded by the opinion of white people with regards to their sexual appeal. 

The reactions – particularly to be found in social media – make the rather sad, if not disappointing point that black people still see themselves through the eyes of white people.  What white people think determines our reality. It says that black people just cannot be comfortable in their own style, taste, joy and sex appeal unless white people look on with approval.

It is worth asking again: why should white people like black people? Where is the prescript, in law or in human nature, which requires that we all ought to find one another, across the races, attractive?

If the writer of the controversial piece is to be believed – that she surveyed equal proportions across the racial classifications she placed forward – more “non-whites” than whites have a preference for ivory, as it were, and about two blacks included in the survey revealed that they didn’t think ebony was all that hot. What does this tell us?

What if the poll suggested that all the respondents, the majority of whom were white, thought that blacks were most attractive? What would that tell us? Would we celebrate the emancipation of black people and the enlightenment of whites?

This kind of reaction is the cousin of another debate; where black women are offended by the idea that black men prefer white women. In their thinking, it is alleged, a black man choosing to court a white woman suggests that black women are not good enough or white women are superior. But whose ideas are these? Who owns such conclusions and who accepts them?

Why can’t a white woman find a tall black man with strong arms sexier than any white man? Why can’t a black woman prefer a stern Indian man with thick hair the most attractive? Why can’t a black man go exclusively for a cream-skinned, well-figured coloured woman with curly hair?

What we have here is not white racism, but black insecurity. What is disturbing is the proclamation made by black people through their reaction to this poll, that our lives have no worth without the affirming opinion of white people. That at all times we should concern ourselves with the white gaze.

This reaction has nothing to do with whether whites find choc-tone skins of our brothers sexy, or the firm curves of our sisters appealing. It has everything to do with the fact that black people will not be satisfied with their own goodness until white people declare it to be so. DM

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