Self Hate and Reflections of My Daughter
Self Hate and Reflections of My Daughter
Traditional belief refers to customary acts or a way of thinking passed on from one generation to another, by word of mouth or literature. It is a belief carved from the practices, values and culture of a particular group of people. Popular culture on the other hand is a belief system generated from other people’s perspectives of a certain group’s way of life. This includes their culture, values and practices. It is usually a product of the mass media. In “Reflections of My Daughter”, David Mura recalls a poem he wrote titled “Colors of Desire” where he asks the question, “Father, mother, / I married a woman not of my color. / What is it I want to escape?”[i]
There is a traditional belief that men of color marry outside if their race to escape from their culture, values and, or themselves. This is contrary to popular culture belief on the same which supposes that they do so because they are driven by love. A man of color in this case is used to refer to people who are not white, living in America. Both the above propositions using different perspectives are racially inclined. This paper draws a comparison between traditional belief and popular culture belief and how they impact on interracial relations.
David Mura discusses the appearance of self hate represented in his choice of marrying a white woman. Traditional belief played a major role in his decision to marry out of his color group. He confesses to have met his wife at a time when he was dating only white women. His was a case many men of color experience. The pressure to gain acceptance among the white community becomes a priority. Racial segregation and associations were particularly common during his time at school. Privileges were often accorded to the white majority, hence the desire to fit into their crowed. However, the desire to assimilate into the majority race was more an act of self hate than genuine interest. This is because of the inferiority status placed upon his race and other men of color.
This apparent feeling of inferiority is part of the traditional belief instilled in him. His parents had been placed in internment camps and often refused to talk about the racial issues they had to deal with at the time. Most of their experiences he learned through literature, something he does not wish for his daughter. The way he viewed himself and others from his race was largely affected by parentage and past racial origin. Growing up he had to teach himself how to survive in a multiracial environment where prejudice was frequently accorded men of color.
Racial dominance belonged to the whites and men of color always had to work hard to prove themselves. Parents hard a hard time explaining to their children why they were treated in a different manner from their peers, both at school and in neighborhoods. Rather than face the ugly truth of racism, excuses were the norm among colored families. This is why David Mura fetes a colored woman who tried to shield her child from racist encounters with her white peers. He believes that if such had been done during his childhood, things would probably have turned out differently.
From the above, it is clear that traditional belief plays a relevant role in shaping people’s lives, more so with men of color. Their experiences and of those before them often create a roadmap of the path their lives will take. With this regard, David Mura is careful of the values he instills in his daughter. He wants her to be in charge of the path she decides to follow in her later years. It is obvious that at such a tender age, his daughter is already familiar with her racial origins, even starting to take preference in particular cultures. For instance she takes art classes, following Japanese artifacts, a culture drawn from her father’s origin. She thinks of herself as half and half, with regard to her racial orientation but does not seem to notice the racial undertones in the relations she has with others. His desire is to see her embrace her multicultural origin and create a way to fit into the rest of society. This is without any feelings of self hate and inferiority brought about by racism.
Popular culture belief as the name suggests is a result of perspectives held by a large number of any given population.[ii] With regard to this topic, it represents a misconception about men of color. It is biased in its way of thinking, as it does not consider the feelings of those targeted. Its support through mass media is particularly offensive as it seeks to sell an idea to the public, which may not be true. The popular culture belief that men of color marry because of love is a notion that points at their desire to be assimilated into the dominant white culture. This idea hides the true fact that men of color may actually be driven by self hate. This hate is generated through years of practices and values being passed from one generation to another.
Popular culture belief is a result of the need for the dominant culture to maintain their superiority. The dominant group in this case is the white race, which rules society morally, culturally and even intellectually. Although minority groups like the men of color rebel, their protests are quashed so as to maintain a balance in terms of ideology. This implies that their issues are eventually incorporated into the main system. This suggests that men of color marry white women in order to fit into the system of dominance created by the white majority. This is an avenue for them to vent out their issues with the white people, thus making it a matter of convenience. Popular culture belief therefore is a means to an end. Men of color feel obliged to conform to the white system by marrying white women. This is an effort to create equality.
Whereas traditional belief is propagated by past events carried into the present, popular culture belief seeks to correct these past mistakes. This is illustrated in the clamor for racial justice and equality. Men of color marrying as a result of traditional belief are more resigned to the idea that they may never be on the same level as the racial majority.[iii] They marry white women to escape from the harsh reality that being a member of the minority brings. They are often after fitting in, more so to experience the privileges that come with associating with the white majority. In so doing they are hiding under a mask of pretence. This is because they may be of the opinion that belonging to the majority group somehow erases all the racial injustices of the past.
In contrast with popular culture belief, men of color marry white women, not to feel like they belong, but to prove that they can be of equal status with the majority. Previously, men of color could only marry from their respective races, the same for the white majority. However, times have changed and although issues of racism are still a part of the wider society, they can now intermarry. I am inclined to think that this popular culture belief about men of color marrying white women for love is more of assimilation into the dominant belief system created by the white majority. Since their pleas for racial equality have been silenced, men of color do so to assert their status in society. The popular belief was therefore coined by society’s elite to maintain the ideology of racial dominance.
My perspective is that popular culture belief aims at erasing a group’s racial heritage. This is done by infusing the said group’s values and practices into those of a larger group. In so doing, assimilation takes place and the ways of the minority become incorporated into those of the majority. Mass media propels this through various ways such as songs, film and written literature. It is not uncommon to find songs that have fused different cultural elements. Traditional belief on the other hand remains conservative in nature, always preserving the beliefs and values of a particular group. Its influence on those that follow it is quite heavy, as such people shape their way of thinking through information from their past. For such persons, living their lives embracing their true identities is the norm. Furthermore, they tend to shun the beliefs held by popular culture regarding them. It is evident that popular culture belief has more misgivings than truths, whereas traditional belief always holds on to the actual values of a given people.[iv]
Conclusively, I think that men of color marry white women to escape from themselves and their cultural values. Although both popular culture belief and traditional belief impact on racial relations, the former is only created as a manner of convenience. Given the problems that men of color have faced over the years due to racial prejudice, such marriages are reflections of these unresolved issues. More often than not, they are soliciting a way out of their feelings of self resentment brought about by racial discrimination. The belief that they marry for love is miscalculated and only reflects the misgivings people have about men of color. Therefore, a resolution of traditional beliefs will serve the purpose of erasing any feelings of self hate among men of color, thus helping to create better interracial relations in the society.
Goodale, Greg. “Black and White: Vestiges of Biracialism In American Discourse.” Academia.edu. 2010. http://www.academia.edu/304241/Black_and_White_Vestiges_of_Biracialism_In_American_Discourse
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O’Hearn, Claudine Chiawei. Half and half: writers on growing up biracial and bicultural. New York: Pantheon.2008.
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[i] Claudine O’Hearn, Chiawei, Half and half: writers on growing up biracial and bicultural, New York: Pantheon, 2008.
[ii] Jessie Smith, Carney, “Encyclopedia of African American popular culture,” Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood, 2011 http://public.eblib.com/EBLPublic/PublicView.do?ptiID=620091