Conscious rapper Jermaine “J.Cole” Cole is no newbie to expressing his thoughts. Throughout every cd the rapper/producer gives his listeners a view of his life and mind. On Cole’s current album, Born Sinner, his listeners are able to see the duality that the native North Carolina rapper posses. In comparison, it is this duality that Black America tries to veil. Black American’s try to be seen as only Americans. However, what does it mean to be America? What does it look like? Some people will tell you that America is all about equality and freedom. And then they will tell you it looks like Taylor Swift. However, a Black person will never look like Taylor Swift no matter how hard they may try. Furthermore, Black people have established some sort of beauty complex within their community in which most defined as colorism.
Colorism is the discrimination in which human beings are accorded differing social treatment based on skin color. It is sad to admit that Black people are one minority who define themselves according to their skin color. The color spectrum for Black people are as follows: light, brown, and dark. Imagine the original 8 colors in a crayola box, now think of them as the three complexions named. However simple it may seem, we all know that crayola has made a 24 and 64 box of crayons, which seem to have the same colors over and over but their names are just different. In modern years, Black people will describe their complexions as: light brown, caramel, honey, chocolate, midnight, yellow, butter, etc. But, no matter how many terms are thrown into the air, the rest of the world mostly sees Black. However, colorism isn’t new in existence. In actually, slave owners and most of America’s white society (during slavery) coined several terms and descriptions for Black people.
Several derogatory terms and caricatures used to describe Black people during slavery are: Mammy, Jezebel, Sapphire, and Coon. Mammy caricature is depicted as being a dark complexion Black woman with big breast. Some clear explains of Mammy are the original image of Aunt Jemima used from 1914-1926 and Juanita Moore’s character in the 1934 film version of the ‘Imitation of Life.’ Mammy was also thought to be happy to be enslaved and very religious. In contrast to Mammy, Jezebel is described as being a lighter complexion Black woman with an insatiable appetite for sex. However, one has to understand that both terms derived from White slave owners. Of course in history the “House Nigger” was a lighter complexion because their appearance was accepted amongst White people only because their skin appeared White. The “Field Nigger” was a darker complexion and was whipped more because their complexions were skin as repugnant. However, what history does not tell you is that male slave owners felt it was more acceptable to have sex with a lighter complexion Black woman because her complexion resembled White. A Sapphire is a dark complexion Black woman with an attitude. Imagine Pam for ‘Martin’ and Maxine from ‘Living Single.’ Both women are prime examples of a Sapphire. A Coon is usually depicted as a dark complexion Black male who is lazy and uneducated. Each of these stereotypes have developed and transformed to fit into modern society.
Nowadays, the Jezebel seems more than happy to oblige to her sexual image. While the Mammy is still constantly placed in the background. However, the Coon has seemed to be stuck in the similar position he has been for decades. Rarely do you see a powerful dark complexion Black man. However, you do get the random dark complexion Black man such as, Omar Epps, Ty Diggs, Morris Chestnut, and Idris Elba, thrown into movies. Today’s 21st century should be proud that we have a Black President (Barack Obama). However, how does American society really see our first Black President?
Recently, Roc Nations first artist spoke out on his feelings about colorism. According to Madame Noire, he says, “I can’t say it for sure but I just think we’re still in America. We’re still Black Americans. Those mental chains are still in us. That brainwashing that tells us that light skin is better, it’s subconsciously in us, whether we know it or not… still pursuing light skin women.” Mr. Cole couldn’t be any more right with this statement. Black people have unconsciously harvested the caricatures and stereotypes assigned to their complexions and have embodied these images. Black society’s mentality has become enslaved to their ancestors physical entrapment. Instead of redefining these caricatures, they abide by them. Many Black people still feel that having a lighter complexion is better because they think it’s prettier and more acceptable. However, they do not realize that this visual prejudices derives from slavery. J.Cole the goes on to state, “But Barack Obama would not be President if he were dark skin.” Ask yourself, If Barack Obama were darker, would he be our first Black President?” Remembering the historical prejudices, it’s sad to say that Barack Obama would probably not be President if he were darker. We all know that Obama is brilliant and strong. However, according to the color spectrum, dark lands on ignorance, stupidity, and lazy. While light lands on brilliant, attractive, and acceptable. J.Cole statement is accurate and Hip-Hop should be prepared to listen to whatever it is he has to say.