Color and class

Helene Cooper’s book The House at Sugar Beach made the cover of the Times Book Review this week.  Do Black people born feeling inferior because of their skin color, or it is injected into them later in life?  Cooper was born into upper class of Africa’s first independent country, yet she mused that “No European garbage to have me wondering whether some British colonial master was somehow better than me. Who needs to struggle for equality? Let everybody else try to be equal to me.”  So where did she get the idea that she’s inferior to the white masters, or who instilled that into her?

The reviewer Caroline Elkins’ African knowledge is obtained at Princeton/Harvard.  What surprises me is she said that she “often have to remind even the most learned of audiences:  Africa is a continent, not a country.  It is a place where race, ethnicity, class, generation and gender intersect in myriad ways to produce some of the richest and most complex histories the world has witnessed.”  I can’t say I agree with it.

It’s only a fool would take Africa as a country, just as one takes Asia as a country.  How ‘learned’ the audiences she refers to?  On the same token, she has to declare the gradation she uses here.  After all, on a lesser level, I certain can see Africa as a whole, or country.  I could even see the world as a single unity or a country.  It all depends on how thin you want to slice the pie, how meticulous you want to color coded the shade.

I’m not color blind.  I even see the different shades of the same skin colors.  What Cooper’s upper class might just no be enough for a middle class elsewhere.  That, has nothing to do with color of one’s skin.  We can stereotype a nation or a race, but when it comes to an individual, I think we just have to deal with him/her individually.

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