IN ESSENCE WHITEWASH IS …


My Whitewash White Ceiling. That's my ceiling, not a white square!

My wife is back from a short stay in the US.  She spent about ten days with her sister and of course, like any other women, came back with a few magazines.
I do to when I travel and always come back with cooking magazines.  That’s my thing and good for my wife who hates cooking. When she throws my magazines away, she feels my sadness when I throw hers.

Anyway, among her magazine treasures she has ESSENCE and according to trusted Wikipedia it is “a monthly magazine for African-American women between the ages of 18 and 49. The magazine covers fashion, lifestyle, beauty with an intimate girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone.”

I look through and “Wiki” is correct. ESSENCE is an almost glossy and trendy looking magazine for the upward African-American women.
I browse the content and notice on the “News and Culture” section an interview; “A Princeton professor responds to the whitewashing of Black history.”
Hmmm!  Something which interests me and go to page 86 of the 200 pages magazine to check out the story.

On page 86, I see a petite small article of probably less than 400 words and 3 questions to the professor. 
The article read is light and each word leaves my mind faster than it enters.
I am disappointed but feel that’s ok!
As they said it’s a magazine for lifestyle, fashion and beauty.  I have no qualms.

Then I search for the meaning of whitewash.  I see three and one fits my frame of mind; “white painting solution: lime suspended in water, often with glue or sizing, and used like paint for whitening walls.” Actually, I knew it but it’s always nice to confirm a meaning.

I skim through the magazines looking at the women on the ads.  Slim women with less than a hint of “derrière”, light hue skin colors leaning towards the white, straight nose bridge ending to a soft multiracial bulb and dazzling shoulder length “natural” hair.

I look at my wife, a gorgeous African, I can tell by the men’s busy bees body language when around her, and she has no similarities to the ones in the magazines.
My wife has a noticeable “derrière”, her skin tone is at the top (positive thinking) of the colour chart, the bridge of her nose is short and soft and she cuts her natural hair so low that looking at our heads in bed you may think that we are two men sleeping together.

The male models in attendance in the magazine’s ads have mostly fine chubby nose and close crop or shave head. They look the part, at least two of the three pictured on the cover, as “average” African-American.

I return to the article on page 86 and look again at the word whitewash. Raise my eyes to the ceiling and think.
“Now who is whitewashing who?”

The professor mentions the removing of some African-American curriculum from Arizona and Texas learning centers. I think a bit and agree that’s whitewash.

I think further with the help of the ceiling about the women’s look in the magazine’s advertisements and think that’s whitewash too. 

I combine my thinking power on both issues and conclude that maybe one whitewash is oblivious to the other.  Removing a curriculum is whitewash but so is the “Caucasianism” of African-American women in ESSENCE magazine.

I need help!

Patrick-Bernard

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