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Cassandra Lane - Skinned Essay

Essay by   •  April 6, 2011  •  Essay  •  462 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,623 Views

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In Cassandra Lane's essay titled Skinned, she describes an African American woman who is very much insecure of herself, and the environment in which she lives in. African Americans in the United States have had a long history of oppression, discrimination and exploitation ever since the beginning of slavery in this country. In the case of Sand, her insecurities are identifiable to many African Americans, because she blames her husband, history and self-worth for the ways she feels about herself.

Sand is twenty nine years old, a poor African American from New Orleans on vacation in New York City with her husband during the winter time. As a child, she gets a taste of discrimination when her family members describe how they were treated as young children, trying to go to school, where they called them derogatory names such as Nigger a negative term derived from slavery to distinguish and categorize Africans as a separate and unequal, inferior beings. She has transcended those negative ideas into adulthood, living in the past unable to bypass what her family suffered and endured.

Mainstream white society has defined what is considered beautiful which is usually white, thin, with straight blonde hair with blue eyes. It's no wonder why Sand feels the complete opposite having her husband constantly validate her. Beauty has brainwashed white society to think Sand's color is other than beautiful. In the essay she recounts her natural hairstyle, as being tightly coiled uncomfortable with herself yet again, because she let her chemicals outgrow. Hair is an important factor for African American women, because many have been known to spend endless amount of money on hair products to style, straighten and color to feel more attractive. The natural state of hair being curled and kinky hair is seen by society as unhealthy and ugly.

The visit to a night club in New York City is the breaking point; her worst fear of having to lose her husband becomes a reality. Her family's advice have controlled her life, for example, her mother warned Sand that she had to keep up her appearance or elsewhere he lover would look elsewhere, with no one to blame but herself. The reality for San is that she can't past the hatred she feels towards what white society because they mistreated and abused her loved ones.

She realizes a little too late that her insecurities have dominated their relationship in a bigger scale. She identifies herself based on the perceptions white people have on African American women. It determined her happiness as a beautiful African American woman. Her ideals of what is beautiful is felt by many African Americans, because society has categorized what is considered beautiful, which is usually towards light color skin.

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