We have wondered here in the past about the cultural constrictions we press into skin color, and a related and deeper issue is one of darker skin — Black skin in particular — and how it is socially demonized by negative, historical, intellectual and emotional touchstones associated with “Blackness.”
The argument goes something like this: The “good” things in life — sunshine, blue skies, clear water, a glowing heart — are lightly colored, while the “bad” things in life — blackouts, storm clouds, muddy water, evil hearts — are darkly colored.
We then begin to unconsciously anticipate and connect happiness with light colors and dread with darkness. Taking the next leap of the argument into the realm of White and Black we begin to see default value judgments connected to colors: White means pure, clean and safe while Black means tainted, dirty and dangerous.
Telling a White Lie is less venial than practicing Black Magic. Decaying, sick, skin turns Black as it dies while pus — made up of White blood cells — indicates healing and continued life.
Doctors wear White coats and fight “Black spots” on X-Rays while those who wish to harm you on the street dress in Black to avoid prosecution in the night. Light creates shadows. Shadows cover light.
Stars shine with White light in dark skies while Black Holes consume light. You play in the sunshine while monsters hide under the bed in the dark while you sleep. Some light requires darkness in order to be seen.
In the movies, Good Guys wear White hats and star badges while the Bad Guys wear Black and carry blued rifles.
At home, lightly colored paint makes a room look larger; Dark paint makes a room smaller — is that an emotional optical illusion or an intellectual scientific fact?
In Racing, a White flag indicates the final lap of the race while a Black flag means the driver is punished.
Using email, you Whitelist those you want to talk to and you Blackhole those you never wish to see again.
Arguments are crafted in “Black and White” where Black is the bad option and White is the good choice.
Grey plays no role. You’re either right or wrong. With me or against me. On the Dark Side or on the Right Side.
Black has many negative connotations — often without a complementary White opposite:
- Black Monday
- Black Plague
- Black Comedy
- Black Sheep
- Black Cat
What is your White and Black experience?
Is there an appropriate universal, cultural, condemnation and fear of Blackness that is earned in science and technology or is that concern of connecting badness and Blackness merely one of convenience?
Is it best to divide the world in two: Day and Night, White and Black, Light-Skinned and Dark-Skinned? If yes, then how can dark-skinned people ever escape their initial intellectual and emotional cultural coding as foreign, dangerous and impure?
Is it fair “Whiteness” — by societal default — is always considered an indicator of cleanliness, purity and safety?