Saturday, June 20, 2009

An African is Not Just a Brown White Person

I got all excited just now poking around Etsy, "window" shopping for stuff for my as-yet-to-be-found new place, when I came across these pillows.

I was just ready to add them to my favorites when I took a second look. Something wasn't right. And then I realized: these are not the silhouettes of Africans.
Ok, now I know that there are white people in Africa...but these silhouettes are, in my opinion, not meant to be of white Africans. They are composed of brown fabric, and the accessories are clearly meant to be, ahem, "ethnic." They are meant to be native Africans. They're not.

I know I'm probably treading into sticky territory here, but their features are clearly white. The one that clued me in first was the male. Look at his hair! All of them have pointy, up-turned noses and itty bitty mouths. Now, I'm not saying they should go overboard and end up with with the type of caricatures that commonly portrayed Africans and those of African heritage in the past, but let's be real.

The problem goes back to the fact that white people are still the standard, the norm, not just in our society, but globally. So a silhouette of a white person (since you can't see the skin color) can be made African by making it brown. Dolls can be made "diverse" just by changing the color of their skin and leaving all other features the same (if they even move beyond simply blonde hair and brown hair).

Of course, race isn't the only place where this happens. Gender, too, brings it out. Only just now are companies researching how drugs affect women differently than men--usually, women were just treated as smaller men. Um...NO.

A woman is not just a man without a penis,
and an African is not simply a white person with brown skin.

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1 comment:

  1. I found your blog on the Christian FB blogging group - glad to have found you as I think our blogs have much in common :)

    It's ironic I read your lastest post first as I am a whire African! I am a South African lass. I currently live in London.

    Noses and lips are decidedly different btwn races, and the cushions seem to be silhouettes of white people I think. The boy has caucasian hair too... so I think you've made a good point here! Thankfully the art in Africa depicts races correctly (generally!).