African-American, black, violence, racism, injustice, protests. If these are the terms that you have been hearing lately, you need to know the root cause of today’s aversion to black men by racist white people. What is it that makes an American white man hate a black man to a hideous extent? I found the answer in Toni Morrison’s book The Bluest Eye. White Supremacism.
‘Black is Beautiful’, ‘#inclusion’, ‘#noracism’, ‘Black Lives Matter’. The slogans have changed with time, but their meanings haven’t, and neither has the time altered for the blacks.
Be it 1968 or 1982 or 2014 or 2020, white supremacist people have show that black lives do not matter.
Do you see the play of colours? Black and White. Black or White. Black vs. White. Difference of colour is more important than humanity for many people.
We all read this news: “Derek Chauvin, a white police officer in Minneapolis, pressed the neck of George Floyd, a black man, with his knees for nearly nine minutes, resulting in the death of Floyd.”
If we follow The Bluest Eye, people like Chauvin struggle to accept people with dark shades due to their white supremacism.
In simple words, white supremacism a psychological belief that white people are superior to black or brown people, and that white people are meant to rule over them.
The concept shouldn’t be anything new for Indians, after all our development was called “the white man’s burden” by Rudyard Kipling.
White supremacism is a mental patch in people, and reading The Bluest Eye last week I realised how books are the only medication that can heal these patches in people like Chauvin.
The author Toni Morrison, a Pultizer Prize winner, has brought forth how racism is installed unconsciously in many minds and stays put subconscious mind, only to emerge out in the form of conscious breathing words and actions. It was this play of unconscious and subconscious that manifested in the deeds of Derek Chauvin on May 25 when he brutally ended the life of a body that wore a colour of a shade darker than his own.
In the book, there is a small instance when we see a little white girl, not more than 6–7 years old nurturing an aversion for black girls her age. Then there is a little boy whose mommy “did not like him to play with niggers.” When you grow up centered with such thoughts, you become a racist backed by your subconscious.
Reading The Bluest Eye, you will see how an Afro-American little girl learns to hate her own black eyes, only because everyone seems to love the blue eyes of dolls. How the little girl could trade anything for getting blue eyes, only because it has been stuck in her mind that white blushing cheeks and blue eyes are the only thing that adults could love.
The little girl cannot decipher why “the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured.”
She thinks that her mommy loves the white girl with yellow hair more than her own child. It’s pretty normal for her to think so because her mommy tends to the tears of this fair child more than her injured leg. She begins thinking that she is ugly and not worthy of love and attention.
Morrison has laid down many self-examining questions for people affected with internalised racism:
How do you get to love people? Is it colour? Skin colour, eye colour, hair colour? Well, love ain’t got anything to do with colour, and this is what a person (in this story, a child) has to realise to be able to love oneself.
The Bluest Eye was set in 1941, and it’s 2020 now, but racism has not become redundant. America did away with segregation in 1964, but that hasn’t stopped people from nurturing xenophobia.
How many American movies have you watched that portrayed black people as thugs or as a rude person? Well, most of the American movies can be held guilty for this stereotype.
How many of you have been taught that the symbolic representation of black is bad and that of white is good? Living in such an environment from a tender age leads to normalising of stereotypes; you automatically either grow an aversion to black skin or treat them as inferior, thus becoming a white supremacist.
Be it 1941 of Ohio (the setting of the book) or 2020 of Minneapolis (where Floyd was killed), racism is still a killer. Though the 1964 law banned segregation and imparted equality to all Americans, much still needs to be done by people who continue to nurture the theory of white supremacy.