Friday, May 9, 2008

Them's Fighting Words on Twitter

I debated for a few weeks on whether or not to write this, and finally decided that I simply had to. The problem with a service with Twitter is that in such short bursts, people sometimes make really dubious comments without taking the time to censor-or at least examine what they are saying. Someone who I considered to be a pretty well-rounded, respectable Twitter-er suddenly went on a rampage about Africans- granted, I'm not quite sure where the whole conversation started but I turned on my phone, fired up TinyTwitter and saw a litany of 'observations' made about African people in the US as well as in parts of Africa. In a nutshell, it was a highly generalized comment about self-hatred and how much Africans hate themselves, as evidenced by habits such as bleaching of the skin, perming of the hair, etc.
Okay, I don't even have the time or energy to do the kind of massive re-education needed to deal with such stereotypes. And I suppose that as a black South African woman married to a caucasian American man, I am a 'prime example' of what this individual was referring to. The reality is, I am not the African ambassador to the United States. I am one person who loves herself completely and totally and accept her entire heritage from the Edo Kingdom of Benin to the Zulu of South Africa. I choose to relax my hair because frankly, there is not enough time in the day for me to nurture an afro. I don't bleach my skin, but I do know that a number of women do in parts of Africa. I've asked why, and they feel they need to counteract the harsh darkening effects of the sun. Well, doesn't seem like the brightest idea to me, but hey, neither does smoking cigarettes and people still do that. I married a man that I happened to fall madly in love with. He proposed, and the color of his skin didn't seem like a compelling enough reason to say no.
My point is, chose a place to have a discussion that is appropriate. And sometimes, for some issues, Twitter with its brevity just isn't it. I am pretty disappointed in you, and I am really saddened that what seemed like the beginning of an interesting and enriching friendship came to a screeching halt in 140 characters.

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