Friday Ephemera
And Lo, There Came A Great Cutting Of The Hair

Don’t Oppress My People With Your Acceptance And Compliments

In the pages of the Guardian, an elaborate humblebrag, care of race-grifter Natalie Morris

It’s often hard to articulate why something that sounds like a compliment can be so harmful. On the racism scale, being told that you’re beautiful is hardly the worst thing that can happen. But just because something presents as a positive on the surface, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t dig deeper into the wider implications of this phenomenon.

Being found attractive is, we’re assured, terribly “problematic.” Though the aforementioned difficulties of articulating why will soon become apparent. We learn, for instance, that celebrities who are difficult to racially categorise are merely,

cherry-picking the elements of Blackness that suit their brand without any of the uncomfortable or disadvantageous implications of actually living as Black.

Quite what this magic “Blackness” might be is, alas, left to the imagination. Likewise, the phrase “living as Black” is delivered portentously but just left to hang there, devoid of particulars. Instead, we’re treated to vague, erratic rumblings about “proximity to whiteness” - a term that is itself not so much an explanation as an incantation, a marker of status. It seems we should just know these things, or nod as if we do. We are nonetheless informed, quite firmly, that,

it’s impossible to see the rise of mixed beauty ideals as a positive thing, because at its heart sits an unsettling insistence on white superiority.

It’s impossible, you see. Again, how Ms Morris arrived at this assertion is less than clear. Though, this being the Guardian, it does have an air of inevitability, of predestination. A book-plugging detour into anecdotes concerning dating and racial fetishism does little to help matters, beyond suggesting that sometimes compliments can be informed by niche racial kinks, and that some kinks are more common than others. Not much of a foundation for sad songs of collective oppression. As if determined to be unobvious, Ms Morris shares this:

In the 1930s and 1940s, there were groups warning about the dangers of “race crossing”; there were calls for mixed people to be sterilised; we were denigrated as deviant, stupid, contaminated, undesirable. Isn’t the contemporary idealisation of mixedness – the suggestion that we are more beautiful or have “the best of both” – simply the other side of the same coin?

Wanting to sterilise people and not wanting to sterilise them are two sides of the same coin, apparently.

Ms Morris tells us that in her youth not being white and not looking like the women seen most often in media and advertising made her feel “insecure.” (“I remember the distinct feeling of wanting to shrink myself, melt myself down into something neater, smaller, sleeker – which is how I saw my white friends, and the beautiful white people on TV.”) And yet now, when women who resemble her, racially, are all but ubiquitous in media and advertising – way out of proportion to actual demographics, and even added anachronistically to historical dramas – this is also a cause of unhappiness and resentment, an excuse for convoluted theories of racial victimhood.

And so, we’re then informed that “celebrating mixed beauty,” which entails the normalisation of racial blending and “every other TV ad” featuring “mixed models or an interracial family,” along with “white influencers… baking their skin” and “braiding their hair” – i.e., trying to look less white - is merely bolstering “a pre-existing racial hierarchy” and “ensuring that whiteness remains fixed at the top.”

Or, put another way, by reducing the ubiquity of pale skin, its status as a default - by becoming, as it were, browner - we are somehow simultaneously exalting pale skin. This, then, is the alleged “insistence on white superiority.”

I know. Do help yourselves to drinks.