Saturday, January 30, 2010

More on the Color Struck and Obsessions with Blue Eyes in Blacks

Yes, Virginia, it's possible. Black people can have blue eyes. See subject Michael Ealy, the actor, below. I can't believe I'm writing on this topic again, skin color issues and eye color issues in people of color, in particular black people, but this post is driven by observations I've made viewing my blog stats and evidence of colorism in popular media. People are still obsessed with black people having blue eyes, still tripping over having a lighter skin color.

At least once a day somebody hits this blog looking for a picture of black people with blue eyes. Sometimes I see hits from people Googling this topic four and five times in one day, and I figure somebody somewhere must be arguing again over whether black people can have blue eyes. Ugh. Or it could be the case that some white people just saw some black girl in the Wal-Mart with blue eyes and have started arguing over whether it was contacts while one of them screams, "It's impossible for black people to have blue eyes!" like blue-eyed black folk are some type of little green men.

The blue-eyed obsession was covered well in Toni Morrison's book The Bluest Eye, which I mentioned in an earlier post on this subject last year, "Blue-eyed black people, colorism, and our continued dysfunction." Morrison, however, never felt any desire to have blue eyes, however. She based the story on observing this lust in another.

Every now and then I'll see other bloggers post on the topic. Last time it was Renee at Womanist Musings, I think. But she was speaking more broadly of the sense of stigma some black girls experience over having the "blackest of black" skin.

Here's the picture of Ealy.

I'm with Toni Morrison on this one. Like her, I've never wanted blue eyes. I may notice that someone else has pretty eyes that are blue, but I've never considered sporting blue contacts the way Oprah did years ago when she popped some in for a while and found out she'd offended other black folks. It was never clear to me if Ms. Winfrey wore the blue contacts for the sake of publicity or if she actually wanted blue eyes.

Neither have I ever tried to bleach my skin. BTW, has anyone else noticed that some of our African-American celebrities or famous folk of African descent seem to be getting lighter? I've heard professional skin bleaching is on the rise. I suspect that if they're not doing so professionally, then some black celebrities are using serums that "even out skin tone" to whiten their entire faces. I know Sammy Sosa was under fire for something like this last year and admits he's bleached his skin.

Worthy of lament, here's video from the 2009 Tyra Banks show on skin bleaching and color struck folk, a topic black people have been talking about openly for a long time, but probably began to speak of more openly with Zora Neale Hurston's 1925 play Color Struck. (You may read the full text of the play here.) And we still talk about using that same term.

The Tyra video is more disturbing than the CNN story last year about black women preferring to adopt light-skinned children.

It could be that some of the celebrities who seem lighter to me, like Queen Latifah, are just standing in different lighting suddenly. Lighting does change how dark or fair you look. However, I've noticed others such as Gabrielle Union, who is doing ads for Neutrogena's tone correcting serum, also look lighter. Maybe it's my imagination because I keep seeing them in cosmetics ads looking "bright" to sell beauty products when I've been told we get a little darker as we age.

Every once in a while, I may see somebody come to my blog through search engines looking for information on "light-skinned black people in New Orleans" or "black Creoles," but since I wrote my post on blue eyes and colorism, I get mostly people popping by via Google searching for "black people blue eyes" or "Creole blue eyes" or "colorism" or "picture black person blue eyes." When they get to the original post, they see a picture of former Miss America and actress Vanessa Williams, who is mixed or to be politically correct is "biracial," and they can read about a debate that roiled in the comments section at Field Negro a while back in which some person claimed black people can only have blue eyes if they have a disease, which is not true.

However, it is true that black people can only have blue eyes if somewhere in their bloodline somebody else had blue eyes and that person by the laws of biology will be white. Don't believe me? Then read what the geneticists say.

Anyway, I thought I'd add the picture of Michael Ealy to educate the unbelievers and ignorant. I forgot about him when I was writing the first piece, but I first saw Ealy in the movie Barber Shop and noticed that he's a good looking young man. I didn't focus on his eyes because, honestly, black folks with light eyes, green eyes, blue eyes are not an oddity to me. Folks obsession with black people having blue eyes, however, is, which is why I'm writing on this topic again. It's very strange to me that people are out looking for pictures of black people with blue eyes and arguing with each other over whether it's possible.

I was reminded of Ealy when I visited a blog I discovered through the Old School Friday meme and it showed Ealy at a red carpet event for the movie Preacher's Kid. I also remember him from Oprah's production of Their Eyes Were Watching God in which he played Tea Cake and from an episode of Jada Pinkett Smith's show, Nurse Hawthorne, which has been renewed on TNT for a second season.

I'm pretty sure Ealy wants to be known for his acting skill and not for the color of his eyes. And he is, in my opinion, a very talented actor.

Photo Credit: Picture found at B-Factor in the post "Colorism: Are We Color Blind?"

Also related: Children recite Nordette Adams's poem "Behind the Color Blind."


Your VibeMistress Stephanie Renee said...

Lord, these kinds of debates wear me out! My abuelita was a dark brown skinned woman with beautiful blue eyes LONG before colored contacts were readily acceptable or available. And every single time we went out to an event or shopping, someone would verbally fumble after looking her in the face and acknowledging those eyes. Because Grandma wore glasses, it would take longer for people to see them. And when they did see those blue eyes in a dark brown face, their reaction was usually one of anger or profound confusion. I just do NOT understand how our society can still be so willfully ignorant about race-mixing and the rainbow of "blackness" in America after more than 400 years of history. Black people are every iteration and shade of the rainbow or genetic possibility. We should all get over ourselves.

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

Yep, and it makes think a whole lot of people slept through highs school biology classes. :-)

msladydeborah said...

*sigh* Will it ever end?

I have family members who are Black and were born with Blue eyes.

My favortie great aunt had dark blue eyes that fit so perfectly with her skin tone. Our mail carrier was blue eyed also.

As far as lightening complexion tones-Black folks need to get a clue-we were made in God's image. She knows exactly what we are supposed to look like. We shouldn't let their hang ups become ours.

Cinnamongirl said...

Obviously,white people don't have the market on blue eyes anymore, and they find it quite bewildering.

desertwoman said...

IT goes to show you that we are all the same and hatred over skin pigment and otherwise is pure nonsense.

Huda said...

I actually did stumble across this googling 'black guy blue eyes' because I was looking for a picture of Michael Ealy but didn't know his name. I found the picture and stayed for the article :)

Quickthorn said...

People are still obsessed with black people having blue eyes, still tripping over having a lighter skin color. ...