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Culture and North-South Narratives of Superiority/Inferiority Part 3


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"Now, from the hapless but increasingly venomous McCain campaign, comes the slimy Britney Spears and Paris Hilton ad. The two highly sexualized women (both notorious for displaying themselves to the paparazzi while not wearing underwear) are shown briefly and incongruously at the beginning of a commercial critical of Mr. Obama. The Republican National Committee targeted Harold Ford with a similarly disgusting ad in 2006 when Mr. Ford, then a congressman, was running a strong race for a U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee. The ad, which the committee described as a parody, showed a scantily clad woman whispering, 'Harold, call me'. Both ads were foul, poisonous and emanated from the upper reaches of the Republican Party. (What a surprise). Both were designed to exploit the hostility, anxiety and resentment of the many white Americans who are still freakishly hung up on the idea of black men rising above their station and becoming sexually involved with white women." What Bob Herbert delicately omitted to mention in his article is that all three White women portrayed in the Republican TV ads (the two in the Barack Obama ad and the one in the Harold Ford ad) are blond, which is by no means a coincidence. It is a factor that was deliberately calculated to ignite the wrath of White American males.
In his seminal work Orientalism (1978), Edward Saïd argued that, in attempting to document the Orient, the Occident came to document itself. That is also true of the Occident's view of Africa and the Black man. Richard Burton, the noted English Victorian writer, explorer, and linguist, epitomises, probably better than any other well-known English-speaking figure, the Anglo-Saxon's deep preoccupation with sex and his wild fantasies about the sexual capacity, size, and appetite of Blacks and Orientals. In attempting to "document" them he only succeeded in documenting Anglo-Saxons themselves, their preoccupation with sex, their voyeuristic culture, their fascination with all kinds of sexual perversion, and their sexual insecurity vis-à-vis Black men. In his translation of the Arabian Nights, Burton offered his English readers, whose prurient imagination he knew was avid for such salacious information, the following sexual data on Blacks: "Debauched women prefer negroes on account of the size of their parts. I measured one man in Somaliland who, when quiescent, numbered six inches. This is characteristic of the negro race and of African animals; e.g. the horse; whereas the pure Arab, man and beast, is below the average of Europe; one of the best proofs by the by, that the Egyptian is not an Asiatic, but a negro partially whitewashed…..In my time, no honest Hindi Moslem would take his womenfolk to Zanzibar on account of the huge attractions and enormous temptations thereby offered." (The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, vol.1, p.6,1885). Burton's choice of words in the last sentence quoted is not at all innocent.
Burton's sexual fantasies about Blacks also extended to Black women: "A peculiarity prized by Egyptians; the use of the constrictor vaginae muscles, the sphincter for which Abyssinian women are famous. The 'Kabbazah' (holder), as she is called, can sit astraddle upon a man and can provoke the venereal orgasm, not by wriggling and moving but by tightening and loosing the male member with the muscles of her privities, milking as it were." (vol.iv, p.227).
Burton did not hide his deep fascination with all kinds of "unusual" sexual behaviour: "In many Harems and girls' schools tallow-candles and similar succedania are vainly forbidden and bananas when detected are cut into four so as to be useless; of late years, however, China has sent some marvellous artificial phalli of stuffed bladder, horn and even caoutchouc, the latter material of course borrowed from Europe." (Burton, vol.iv, pp.234-5). Burton was fascinated by homosexuality, particularly pederasty. In the introduction to his translation of The Perfumed Garden, he complained that the Persian author, Shaykh Nefzawi, had omitted any mention of sodomy or homosexuality. More suprisingly, the complaint that Nefzawi left out subjects on which Burton thought that readers "might have been given sound advice" extended to bestiality. "The same silence has been preserved by the author respecting bestiality." (1886 edition, p.6). Burton appear to have overlooked the fact that the Perfumed Garden is exclusively concerned with heterosexual activity. Because his fascination with every possible sexual peversion was apparently shared by the people he knew best – his fellow Englishmen – Burton probably assumed that the same was true for people of other cultures.
Moreover, Burton's firm conviction, one that is probably still shared by his countrymen, that people from non-Western cultures are inferior to those from the West might have blinded him to the possibility that even if Shaykh Nefzawi did share Burton's "unusual" sexual interests, his refinement and sense of delicacy might have dissuaded him from expressing them in print. Indeed, on that very point the publisher's comment on the blurb of the 1964 edition of Nefzawi's widely acknowledged masterpiece is quite instructive: "The Perfumed Garden stands apart from most, if not all, books of a carnal atmosphere: it is a masterpiece of discretion in the most delicate of matters, coupled with a fine sensitivity and refinement throughout."
In his discussion of pederasty in Persia, Burton provided his English readers with certain specific information which, knowing his own countrymen, he probably thought they would find it useful: "I once asked a Shirazi how penetration was possible if the patient resisted with all the force of the spincter muscle; he smiled and said, 'Ah, we Persians know a trick to get over that; we apply a sharpened tentpeg to the crupper-bone (os coccygis) and knock till he opens." (Burton, 1985, vol.x, p.235). The Anglo-Saxon's constant preoccupation with sex and his insatiable fascination with the sexual lives of others – those of his countrymen but, more particularly, those of people from Non-European cultures – do not only lead him to fantasize about the size of the Black man's sexual organs or the ability of certain Black women to "milk" men by merely exercising their vaginal muscles, but it also leads him to manufacture fantasies.
In the Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1935), T. E. Lawrence included the following erotic scene with the Turkish garrison commander whose prisoner he was: "He began to fawn on me, saying how white and fresh I was, how fine my hands and feet, and how he would let me off drills and duties, make me his orderly, even pay me wages, if I would love him." (p.452). That very detailed homoerotic description of the Turkish garrison-commander's attempt to seduce him never occurred, as Desmond Stewart convincingly demonstrated in his biography of Lawrence. It had no factual basis whatsoever. (T. E. Lawrence, 1977, pp.241-3). It was purely a figment of Lawrence's lurid imagination – a sort of literary wish-fulfilment – which, perhaps, betrayed Lawrence's subconscious desires.
The language of a people is necessarily shaped by their national character. It is doubtful whether any other European language has such a linguistically unhealthy attitude towards sex as English, where the language of invective is full of distasteful sexual imagery depicting sex as dirty, sinful, and shameful. That association helps reinforce the the difficulty Anglo-Saxons have in indulging their sexual desire without experiening deep feelings of guilt about it. Consequently, sex must be furtive, perfunctory, and for men most affected by it, preferably with women who are not "respectable" in order that they would not be sullied by it. The record number of prostitutes in Victorian England and the frequency with which both White American and English public figures are caught indulging in paid sex are some manifestations of that most peculiar cultural trait.
In the above respect, Anglo-Saxon culture differs greatly from European Latin culture. Malcolm Muggeridge, a former editor of the New Statesman, once famously declared that the English have sex on their brain, adding ironically that it is a very odd place for it to be. Fixated by sex, as it is, the Anglo-Saxon mind conjures up images of it everywhere. The English writer, Jan Morris, enthused about Manhattan: "But the glowering ecstasy of it. No other city, not even Venice, projects for me a more orgiastic kind of allure….the popular phallic symbolism of the place, its charged erections thrusting always into the sky." (Destinations, p.221, 1980).
In Otto Preminger's film, The Moon is Blue (1953), a light comedy that shocked puritanical America by its candid on-screen discussion of sex, William Holden "accused" Maggie McNamara of being preoccupied with sex, which McNamara countered with a répartée: "Isn't it better to be preoccupied with sex than to be occupied with it?" Holden (or rather the character he played) was left at a total loss for an adequate response. He could hardly deny the conventional "truth" of McNamara's reply. However, that was a typically Anglo-Saxon point of view. In Latin Europe, it is the very opposite that would be considered "true". The French would consider a preoccupation with sex, or having sex on one's brain, quite perverse – a condition which, in their opinion, would certainly merit a session or more with a psychiatrist. That is precisely the reason why, unlike England and the U.S., France does not have a voyeuristic culture.
The French were shocked by the precise details of Bill Clinton's amorus encounter with Monica Lewinsky, which the Special Prosecutor considered it absolutely necessary to know. They concluded that such detailed, prurient questioning had less to do with the substance of the charges against Clinton than with the Special Prosecutor's own sexual hang-ups. They were probably right. The French are too "occupied" with their own sex lives to be "preoccupied" with those of their political leaders. A corollary of that utter lack of interest in the sex lives of their politicians, other public figures, or even that of their neighbours, is that no French president, minister, or politician (male or female) would ever run the slightest risk of jeopardizing their career if it became publicly known that they were having an extra-marital affair. It would be the same in Italy. Neither Sarkozy nor Berlusconi would be politically affected in such circumstances. In stark contrast, John Edwards saw his vice-presidential hopes destroyed when he was forced to admit on Saturday, 9th August (2008), after persistent rumours and media speculation which amounted to harassment, that he had had an extra-marital affair. That admission effectively ended Edwards political career. The French utter lack of interest in, or concern for, the sexual lives of their political leaders is not restricted to heterosexual politicians. Bertrand Delanoë, the mayor of Paris, has never hidden the fact that he is gay, which did not prevent him from being elected and re-elected with huge majorities. In voter surveys, he consistently ranks as France's most popular politician and he is a favourite to win nomination as the Socialist party's candidate in the next presidential elections.
Richard Wright once declared that the "Negro" is (White) America's "metaphor". The Black man will always be the White man's Bête noire because sexual insecurity, like many other types of insecurity, tends to be so deep-seated that it often endures the entire lifetime of an individual. When sexual insecurity affects a whole culture, as it apparently does with White male American culture, it may well outlast the culture itself. Consequently, it appears that the racism which that insecurity fuels, particularly towards Black males, has a long life before it. Old narratives about Black sexual capabilities and Black intellectual inferiority will continue to be repeated and new narratives linking both will be invented. No less a scientific "authority" than James Watson has begun to pioneer such narratives. He will find a ready audience and fertile ground in White America for his "scientific" theories about Blacks. Watson informed a lecture audience at U.C. Berkeley, in 2000, that there was a biochemical correlation between a population's exposure to sunlight and its sex drive. Watson's thesis is that a chemical called pom-C breaks down into derivative enzymes which influence a series of behaviors. One of the pom-C derivatives is melanin, which darkens the skin, and he described a laboratory experiment in which melanin was found to have a Viagra-like effect. In effect, Watson's "research" suggests a clear link between skin colour and sex drive, positing the theory that black people have higher libido. Quod erat demonstrandum.
The Colour Black
Many black writers - Frantz Fanon, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Ralph Ellison, to name some of the most prominent - have identified a number of negative symbolisms surrounding the word "black", arguing that the good vs. bad dualism associated with white and black provide prejudiced connotations to colour.
In every culture, colours convey specific meanings and evoke certain associations of symbolic importance, which may differ greatly from culture to culture or even between different countries within the same cultural area. Colour is also often used as a symbol, or an expression, of feelings such as happiness, sorrow, gloom, hope etc. Social scientists have noted that, of all the rites of passage, death is most strongly associated with symbols which express the core life values that are sacred to a society. In all societies, the issue of death brings into focus certain fundamental cultural values. The various rituals and ceremonies performed on death are primarily concerned with the explanation, validation, and integration of a people’s view of the world. In the West, black is the colour of mourning, a colour that not only reflects the West's fundamental cultural values but also explains, validates, and integrates its worldview. In Western cultural tradition, the colour black has negative, sinister connotations. Many traditional meanings of black in Western folklore, represent it in the most negative terms. It is the colour of the unknown, of mystery, of darkness, of evil, of fear, of death, of emptiness, and even of the Devil himself. It is the privation of light and joy, the midnight gloom of sorrow for the loss sustained. In physical terms, black is the colour of dirt, of charcoal, and of soot.
In contrast, white symbolizes light, purity, peace, cleanliness, virginity, honesty, and goodness in the Western cultural tradition. White was the liturgical colour for Easter, and Whitsun means "White Sunday". There was a strong association in Europe between the spring festival and the wearing of white garments. May queens and newly initiated knights wore white. Leonardo Da Vinci summed up, perfectly, the Western worldview as it is expressed in terms of colour: "The first of all single colours is white...We shall set down white for the representative of light, without which no colour can be seen; yellow for the earth; green for water; blue for air; red for fire; and black for total darkness."
The cultural traditions of other civilizations express their own fundamental values and worldview in terms of colours that are very different from those prevailing in the West. Across much of Africa, white is a color of mourning and the colour worn during funerals. White is also the colour of mourning in China, Japan, India, and Buddhist countries in general. In those cultures, many people wear white not only at funerals but also during the period of mourning. In some parts of Africa, particularly southern Africa, red is the colour of mourning; it is yellow in Egypt and Burma; brown in Ethiopia, pale brown in Iran; blue or violet in Turkey; purple in Thailand; in Syria and Armenia, it is sky-blue, a colour that expresses the hope that the deceased has gone to heaven.
Black was not always the colour of mourning in Europe, nor did it always convey the negative, derogatory connotation it now possesses. Indeed, in certain aspects of European tradition, the colour black had a positive image. The Knights Templars brought back from the Crusades the devotion to the Black Madonna. The colors adopted by their order were black and red. They wore a double black and red cord around their necks and their flag was black, white and red. "Black Madonnas", which are medieval figurines, or copies of them, are found in several Catholic regions of Europe. The Black Madonna statuettes, which are mostly wooden (some are in stone) and often painted, normally measure up to 75 cm in height. Many date from between the 11th and 15th centuries. The Black Madonna is found all over Europe—in Sicily, Spain, Switzerland, France, Poland, and Chechoslavakia. There are about 450-500 Black Madonnas in Europe and at least 180 Vierges Noires (Black Virgins) in France, most of which are in churches or shrines. Many Black Madonnas are associated with miracles, for which rreason they still attract a substantial number of European pilgrims.
The colour of the Black Madonna is a reference to the skin tones in the traditional portraits of Mary for, as both Mary and Jesus lived in a hot climate, their skin tone would have been dark brown or olive, which is nature's protection against the intensity of the sun and against skin cancer. Not until the 15th century, at the time of the Renaissance, would one find representations of Jesus and Mary depicted with alabaster skin, blue eyes, and blond hair. Before that period, all Christian religious artwork reflected the olive skin and the black or brown hair and eyes which were the natural physical characteristics of the Holy Family and the Apostles.
The ladies of ancient Rome and Sparta wore white for mourning and, in medieval Europe, the colour of mourning was white, not black. It was the custom of the Queens of France to wear white veils for mourning, it was the official colour of mourning in Spain until 1498 and, in England, it was white that Henry VIII wore to mourn the death of Anne Boleyn. The colour of mourning in Europe changed from white to black in the fifteenth century, a process which transferred from the former colour to the latter all the negative ideas, meanings, images, and notions traditionally associated with death, mourning, and funeral rites. Insofar as they were expressed in terms of colour, there was a concomitant change in the values and worldview of Europe.
What happened to bring about that relatively sudden change? One possible explanation is the enormous impact which Dante Aligheri's (1265-1321) Divine Comedy had on popular European opinion. The Divine Comedy, which Dante completed in 1320, is generally considered to be the central epic poem of Italian literature. It is divided into three canticas, Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise), consisting of 33 cantos each. In the Inferno, Dante described an imaginary journey he made through the nine circles of Hell. The sinners in each circle are punished in a manner befitting the principal sin they committed. Dante depicted Hell and its gallery of damned souls as dominated by darkness and peopled with monsters and demons There were harpies (winged death spirits), the minotaur (part man and part bull), centaurs (half human and half horse; Geryon, a monster with three heads, three bodies, and six arms; and Satan himself, who is represented as a giant-sized terrifying beast weeping tears from his six eyes. It is a very gloomy, ominous picture which readily evoked the colour black in the medieval European mind. 
Black is the dominant colour of night, the period of the 24-hour day cycle which people in medieval and ancient times have always dreaded, imagining, as they did, that demons, criminals, and monsters would find the darkness of night the ideal condition to attack and kill people. Dante's poem depicting Hell in terms of darkness, demons, and monsters, confirmed and reinforced medieval fears of the black night. It did not take long for medieval Europeans to associate those fears with blackness in general, and for Black people to be likened to the demons of the underworld, eventually leading them to literally demonize all Black people.
What was probably the crucial factor in bringing about that strategic and most fateful change in the way Europeans came to view the colour black and everything black, including Black people themselves, was that the Christain church found in Dante's imaginative, allegorical vision of the Christian Afterlife a reaffirmation of, and support for, Christian Catholic doctrine, which was related in the form of a gripping epic poem whose compelling imagery would stamp that doctrine on the imagination of the faithful, fixing it forever in their minds. In the Divine Comedy, those who sinned but prayed for forgiveness before their deaths are found in purgatory where they labor to be free of their sins. Limbo, the place where the unbaptized and virtuous pagans reside, is found in the First of the Nine Circles Dante described in the Inferno. The account in Dante's poem coincided perfectly with Catholic doctrine. The Ecumenical Council of Florence (1442), for example, reaffirmed the absolute necessity for children to be baptised soon after birth so that they would not be consigned to Limbo if they were to die shortly after birth.
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto very accurately depicted how Europeans came to view Blacks when the period of European explorations began in the late 15th century: "When their heartlands and home societies first became exposed to European explorers, Blacks, as individuals, were a familiar sight, readily classified, in a category not far removed from that of apes, as men made degenerate by sin. The tradition that the sons of Ham were cursed with blackness – as well as being condemned to slavery - reinforced the mental associations evoked by a 'diabolical' colour, generally preferred for depicting demons and signifying sin." (A History of Our Last Thousand Years, p.451, 1995). The popular association of Blacks with demons, Stygian darkness, and Hell was explicitly stated by the Portugese explorer and chronicler, Gomes Eannes de Zuzara, who found the first slaves to be directly shipped from Africa to Portugal "so deformed in their faces and bodies as almost to resemble shadows from the nether world" (Cronica de Guiné, p.107, 1978 edition). It is therefore not at all surprising that Pope Pius XII was opposed to Black American troops entering his Holy City, Rome, during the Second World War. After all, he was heir to two concordant, unfavourable world views of Blacks: the religious world-view of his Christian faith whicch depicted Blacks as resembling demons from the Underworld, and the similar secular world-view held by his fellow Europeans since the Renaisssance.
Zuzara had "discovered" Guinea in 1453, but his opinion of Africans was quite "precocious" for the time because the process, which presumably had been set in train by Dante's Inferno and the Catholic church's subsequent validation of his view of Hell, had not yet taken hold of the European imagination. King Manuel of Portugal and Mani-Congo, the King of Congo, who had been converted to Christianity by Portugese missionaries, carried on a prolonged correspondence between 1506 and 1521, which only ended the year Manuel died. The letters exchanged between them not only showed a mutual respect but also revealed that both kings considered the other his equal. "Most powerful and excellent King of Manycongo, We send to you Simao da Silva, noble man of our house, a person whom we most trust….." began the letter King Manuel addressed to the king of Congo in 1521, whose reply began with the words "Most high and powerful prince and king my brother…." (Basil Davidson, Black Mother: a Study of the Precolonial Connection Between Africa and Europe, p.120, 1970). On May 5, 1518, King Mani-Congo's son, Henry of Congo, was made a bishop by Pope Leo X, on the formal proposal of four cardinals. Blacks had to wait a further five and a half centuries before they could see another Black man attain the rank of bishop in the Catholic church. That fact alone is eloquent testimony of the subsequent radical change which took place in European minds in respect of Blacks and the colour black.
But Black people currently have a negative image in virtually every region and every culture in the world except Africa. If the negative image that European peoples have of Blacks can be explained by the Christian tradition, the Atlantic slave trade, and transatlantic slavery, none of those factors has any relevance in the case of non-European cultures, except perhaps Arab culture since Arabs did enslave Blacks. Many modern Egyptians view being considered black an insult. Richard Poe relates that, in 1984, Columbia Pictures released a television mini-series on the life of the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, the title role of which was given to the distinguished black actor Loius Gossett, Jr. With makeup and costume, he looked very much like Sadat. But the Egyptians did not see it that way. Not only was the mini-series banned but Egyptians were so deeply offended by it that all films produced or distributed by Columbia Pictures were also banned. One of the principal objections Egyptians expressed about the series was their strong revulsion against the idea of a black actor playing Sadat. (Poe, 1999).
But such attitudes did not prevail among medieval Arabs, who unlike White American slave owners, often accepted as their own heirs the children they had fathered with black slaves. A famous example is Al-Mustansir, the 18th Imam-Caliph of the Fatimid dynasty (909-1171). His father was the previous Caliph and his mother was a Nubian concubine. (The African Diaspora in Asia, UNESCO General History of Africa, vol 3). Another medieval Arab, Ibn Battuta, the Moroccan traveller and one of the best known medieval Arab writers, repeatedly expressed favorable opinions of black Africans in his writings. He rated the women of Mali as being of "surpassing beauty".
Many Chinese parents today boast proudly of daughters married to European or white North Americans, an enthusiasm for white foreigners which contrasts starkly with the current Chinese belief that people of African descent are unredeemably savage. Modern-day Koreans, Japanese, South-East Asians, and Indians display similar contrasting attitudes towards blacks (unfavourable) and whites (very favourable). In pre-modern times (i.e. before the 15th-16th centuries), Asian attitudes were quite different. Marco Polo had the following comment on the Dravidians of south India: "It is a fact that in this country when a child is born they anoint him once a week with oil of sesame, and this makes him grow much darker than when he was born. For I assure you that the darkest man is here the most highly esteemed and considered better than those who are not so dark. Let me add that in very truth these people portray and depict their gods and idols black and their devils white as snow. For they say that God and all the saints are black and the devils are all white." (The Travels of Marco Polo, p. 276, 1982 edition).
James Brunson states that Nan Tsi Chou, a Chinese traveller to Southeast Asia in medieval times reported that the local people "consider black the most beautiful." (Unexpected Faces in Early Asia, African Presence in Early Asia, p. 221, 1995), and although modern Filipinos prize the "high-nosed", oval face of the European as beautiful, some even going so far as to pinch their children's nose bridges in the hope of achieving a higher nose, that has not always been the case. Prior to European colonization, for the ancient Visayans of the Philippines it was not high noses and oval faces which they considered handsome but just the opposite. Moreover, ancient Visayans, like the peoples of Malaysia and Indonesia, compressed their babies' skulls to achieve broad faces with receding foreheads and flat noses, which suggest that their canons of beauty were the very opposite of European ones. (William Henry Scott, Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society, 1994).
Jonathan Lipman relates similar favourable Chinese attitudes towards the colour black in pe-modern times: "By traditional Chinese opera conventions, a black face is considered nobler. Actors wear masks that denote the character's qualities. A pre-dominantly black face indicates courage, righteousness and incorruptibility. A pre-dominantly white face indicates craftiness, deceit and knavery. Ming Dynasty China records even state that Caucasians, especially blondes, are physically unattractive: Huihui are shaggy with big noses, and Qipchags have light hair and blue eyes. Their appearance is vile and peculiar, so there are those [Chinese] who do not wish to marry them." (Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China, p. 38, 1997).

Despite the negative image of Blacks and the colour black in modern Japan, some traces of the different pre-modern attitude towards the colour black in Japan's traditional culture do remain. In Japanese culture, kuro (black) is a symbol of nobility, age, and experience, as opposed to shiro (white), which symbolizes serfdom, youth, and naiveté. Thus, the black belt is a mark of achievement and seniority in Japanese martial arts while, in Shotokan karate, for example, a white belt is a rank-less belt which signifies no achievement.


As William Katz has demonstrated, Native Americans also initially showed a liking for Blacks. York, the black slave of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition, fascinated Native Americans he came across. Indian women all the way to the Pacific Coast were "very fond" of York, Clark wrote. On one occasion, a Flathead Indian illustrated his people's favourable view of, and reactions to, York: "Those who had been brave and fearless, the victorious ones in battle, painted themselves in charcoal. So the black man, they thought, had been the bravest of the party." (Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, pp. 97-99, 1997). In their trading negotiations with Native Americans, white fur traders often got a Black man to negotiate for them if possible because of the favourable Indian predisposition towards Blacks. Unfortunately, the goodwill Native Americans initially bore towards Africans gradually disappeared as a result of the deliberate efforts of American Whites to sabotage black-Indian relations, which they eventually succeeded in doing. The principal reason for the changed attitudes towards the Black peoples, and the colour black, throughout the modern world must be attributed to the systematic denigration and demonization of Blacks by all European peoples over the past five centuries. The dominant influence European peoples have had for centuries throughout the world ensured that their negative world view of Blacks had a strong impact everywhere, even among Blacks themselves.
Darcy Ribeiro has painted a very unflattering cameo portrait of "Antillean" society (Dutch, French, Spanish, and English West Indian society). Writing in 1971, he gave the impression, without actually saying so, that his portrait was currently valid. However, it appears to portray Antillean society, as it probably was, up to the Second World war and, possibly, for the following decade or two. "Interracial comportment in the Antillean zones had a certain archaic tinge….on one side, fluidity of sexual relations existed, and the Negro women's pleasure in having lighter-skinned children, which reflected a prejudiced ideal of 'whitening', which in turn only admits the Negro as a future mulatto or white, but realistic, too, because of the clear social predominance of the dark over the Blacks; on the other side, the role of the mulatto, always capitalizing his paleness and his city speech, his education and his urbanity, as instruments of social ascent, doing all in his power to place himself on the white man's team and against the vastly superior numbers of his own Black peoples. In this effort the mulatto became an arrogant snob, internalizing a greater and more odious Negrophobia than that of the white man, expressed in the fear of being identified as a Negro and in the revolt of the Negro against the oppressor, whose self-proclaimed whiteness makes him identify the mulatto and the white, rather than the system of exploitation, as an enemy.
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