Monday, December 10, 2007

Critical "skin" theory

I've been reading some of Richard Delgado's critical race theory lately. His main point is that if you aren't black, you can never know what it's like to be black. Skin IS important. This is something you find out (to paraphrase Delgado) the second a police man lets you off easy on a ticket because you aren't black. Delgado says that when this happens, you should ask the policeman whether he would've done it if you weren't white. He says this will help everyone wake up to the prejudices ingrained in their behavior and enable social change.

I was thinking about this as I stared at my Skins folder. I only own a few skins deeper than "cream," partly because when I try to look ethnic, I go for Asian. This is because of my own background; I'm half Asian but look entirely white, which confuses everyone who meets me, and often confuses me too.

Much like Barak Obama, I grew up in Hawaii and was treated prejudicially because of the color of my skin. The default skin color in Hawaii is a soft mocha color, a melange of pan-Asian and Pacific Islander peoples who all intermarried to create what people who live there call Locals. White skin symbolizes plantation owners in Hawaii, or tourists who colonize through money (and wear knee socks on the beach). I lived through "kill Haole" day, but that wasn't the worst part; the worst part was having few friends. The irony was that I probably had more Asian blood in me than most of the people bullying me, but a strange genetic fluke rendered my skin pale instead of tan.

This is not to say that I didn't meet many excellent Locals in Hawaii. I did. I love my old home town of Hilo, and wave virtual fingers at all the people who looked beyond my skin to get to know who I was.

Have I earned slipping into a black skin? I don't know; probably not. I understand what racism feels like. I understand what it's like to be judged based upon the color of my skin. I don't, however, know what it's like to be black. The interesting part of Second Life is that you can literally slip into a black skin and try it out.

So I did.

(Small side note about clothes. I had to have this dress the second Ivalde posted their fashion update. Also, the earrings are today's Second Mirage giveaway -- go get them! They're gorgeous!)

***I love my christmas tree: /artilleri/ sad little christmas tree, (artilleri, 87, 118, 26)
***Hair: Hiccup Slow Jamz 2007 in black, (Caribe!, Lions Shore, 14, 105, 20)
***Skin: Tete a Pied Vivant Chestnut Paon 4, free group giveaway, (Nouveau, 196, 149, 22)
***Eyes: ::: Flesh Inc ::: Golden Brown Eyes, ( Doesburg, 106, 170, 22)
***Earrings: Second Mirage, Kayla brushed steel earrings, advent calendar giveaway, (Second Mirage, 71, 15, 23)
***Scarf: caLLie cLine, SNOW BABY "FOREVER SWEATER" sweater neck with scarf (I'm just using the scarf, tinted green), free giveaway, ( caLLiefornia, 198, 244, 23)
***Dress, prim cuffs, prim skirt, bloomers: ~~Ivalde~~sarah blue dress, (Ivalde, 133, 182, 23)
***Gloves: *WR* Xmas Outfit Gloves, free giveaway, (Bloom County, 33, 182, 23)
***Boots: Shiny Things Ruffled Boots in cocoa, (Nouveau, 65, 63, 30)
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