A birthmark is a benign irregularity on the skin which is present at birth or appears shortly after birth, usually in the first month. They can occur anywhere on the skin. There are methods of removal which include cosmetic surgery or vanishing crèmes, however in a person’s subconscious, whenever they look at the location where the mark once existed, it’ll be a constant reminder of a blemish which caused an imperfection. To a person of color, as am I, our melanated skin is a lifetime souvenir that cannot be returned to its original owner. It’s the sole identifying trait that differentiates us from the rest of society. To the ill-informed, most believe that the presence of melanin relates to skin, hair and eye pigmentation. However, unbeknownst to a majority of the masses, melanin contains within it the entire electromagnetic spectrum; all the colors of the rainbow. Our exposure to the sun recharges us; supplying us with a natural ability to manufacture vitamins like Niacin and Vitamin D; and on a spiritual level, an active pineal gland (3rd Eye) secretes melatonin which creates melanin. Although many of us enjoy our inherited qualities, a large portion of society “hates the skin that I’m in” and have displayed their displeasure over the course of time. The inclusion of self-hatred, whereby people of color are psychologically programmed to have a dislike, distain and distrust for their own race (i.e. the Willie Lynch syndrome) magnifies our circumstance and makes it all the more difficult to cope during these trying times.
“White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a term for societal privileges, existing in predominantly white societies, that benefit white people beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people in the same social, political, or economic circumstances. The term denotes both obvious and less obvious unspoken advantages that white persons may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice. These include cultural affirmations of one’s own worth; presumed greater social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak freely. The concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one’s own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal. It can be compared to and/or combined with the concept of male privilege.” The lesson that should be learned and reinforced to people of color in relation to the death of Mike Brown (Ferguson, Missouri; unarmed black male youth killed by police officer Darren Wilson) is that “your skin is your sin.” I’ve been disappointed by the comments on social media which in many instances state that “racism exists, there’s nothing that can be done about it” or “But really, I fault in the parenting of each one of the individuals I just spoke of (Mike Brown and Kajieme Powell)! Parenting consists of teaching kids right from wrong, respecting authority, hard work, etc…! I know one thing that’s a fact, if each one of these kids respected authority, it don’t happen…” In “my” opinion, those comments are irresponsible on many levels. True, racism is the elephant in the room that no one wishes to discuss; the ruling class is unwilling to make amends for the past and are reluctant to rectify the wrongs of yesteryear by providing “significant” initiatives that provide people of color an opportunity to appear on equal footing on “all” levels. Secondly, teaching your child morals, values, respecting authority and the importance of hard work have nothing to do with the fact that as an individual under the Constitution of the United States, each of us has a right to “due process.” In the case of Mike Brown, he was denied his Fourteenth (14th) Amendment Right defined in the first section and states that no state can “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” And as with many of our brothers and sisters which have been struck down by the “long arm” of the Criminal Justice System without justification, we’re “all” entitled to an opportunity to appear before a jury of our “peers” to be either found guilty or exonerated of any wrong doing. Many of you reading this won’t ever have the specter of being watched or followed in convenience or department stores under the suspicion of stealing merchandise; you don’t have to worry about being apprehensive when the police abruptly drive behind your vehicle, palms sweating as you peer through your rear view mirror observing the officer call in your license plate information and subsequently pull you over under the pretense of “your vehicle fits the description of a (blank) in progress!” Even as I explain this, you can never fully understand what being “Black” means. To many it’s a source of pride; to others, a badge of shame. It means being looked upon as a second (2nd), sometimes third (3rd) class citizen. It means be overlooked for jobs when you know you’re distinctly qualified and the person hired doesn’t have the expertise or experience; it means working twice as hard to receive the accolades of an individual barely doing enough to get by. It’s unfortunate but real.
“I ain’t did nothing/Nobody sweat me/They just won’t me, go on with my life/But I’mma protect me /Can’t let them stress me/So let me go or read me my rights!” Scarface Presents… The Product “Read”
And lastly, as evidenced by the incident concerning Ray Allen and his family where several white teens came into his home in the middle of the night, causing Allen’s wife who was asleep with their children to fear for her life, and police not bringing forth charges characterizing it as a “silly prank”, many of you won’t ever have to worry about hearing this statement, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” Let’s be honest, if the situation involved Black youths, they would’ve been detained, arrested, sentenced and forced to live with the remnants of a “Scarlet Letter” on their records (adjudication withheld or conviction) which would mar them for the remainder of their lives. The Miranda Rights were created in 1966 as a result of the United States Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona. The Miranda warning is intended to protect the suspect’s Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer self-incriminating questions. The Miranda rights do not go into effect until after an arrest is made. The officer is free to ask questions before an arrest, but must inform the suspect that the questioning is voluntary and that he or she is free to leave at any time. The answers to these questions are admissible in court. In many cases you don’t have an opportunity to have them read as in the recent incident involving Charles Belk, a television and film producer who was mistakenly arrested by Beverly Hills police who stated, “Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, denied a phone call, denied explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time, and denied being told that my car had been impounded…..All because I was misidentified as the wrong ‘tall, bald head, black male,’ … ‘fitting the description.’” And with that prize comes many times being handcuffed, detained and ordered to sit on the curb as onlookers pass in their cars judging and perhaps saying to themselves “Their kind are always in trouble.” And when proven to be in error, the person victimized will often times never receive an apology. Do I believe there’s a way to overcome the racial barriers built by society that hinders our progress? Of course I do! With my success, I hope to enlighten and empower others to overcome those same hurdles. However, as NWA so amply stated in their song “Niggaz4Life”, and this is true, unfortunate and a sad reality, no matter the measure of success, until things change the lyrics exacerbates the following, “You’re a nigga ’til you die/If you’re a poor nigga, then you’re a poor nigga/If you’re a rich nigga, you’re a rich nigga/But you never stop being a nigga/And if you get to be educated, you’s an educated nigga.” Damn… Something has to change. It is our responsibility to not sit idly and elicit that change. “We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)
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