- African Americans dress differently that white people. They have very different ideas about fashion. African Americans place a very high value on matching–socks, shoes, purse, whatever. If it matches, this will garner you extra points in the fashion zone. White people like to coordinate–if you’re wearing earth tones, wear brown shoes; if you’re wearing dark colors, wear black shoes. I’ve noticed that white people are more likely to throw a wrench in the mix–they’ll wear a plain outfit and then have on brightly colored shoes, or a funky purse–African Americans just can’t handle this. They think this is just bad fashion.
- African Americans are sharply attuned to skin color and it’s many variations. Being "light-skinned" is an asset. As a certified white girl, we work hard to not look pasty. For African Americans, it’s the opposite. The first time Mr. K heard the term "light-skinned" he was totally confused. But, as we examined things, we noticed that the light-skinned girls were the most popular. I struggle to notice the exact shade of a person’s skin–I still do the cursory Caucasian assesment: black, white, Asian, or Hispanic. After that, I’m not getting out a paper bag and doing comparisons.
- African Americans have an much drier dermis than people with lighter skin. When a black person has dry skin it turns a hazy white and this is called "ashy." Being ashy is a cultural no-no. Kids will tease each other if they are ashy. A child will not be able to concentrate if they’re ashy and will actually complain of pain sometimes if their skin is too dry. For this reason, almost every teacher on my team keeps lotion in their desk. An African American is your best source of knowledge if you’re having trouble with dry skin. A teacher I work with will actually put Vaseline on her kids in the winter. When I first started working at the this school, I commented on the kids’ obsession with lotion to the Assistant Principal, and she said, "oh, you wouldn’t understand–it’s a black thing."
This isn’t supposed to be offensive–if you’re seeing red because of my blatant placement of people into groups by race, then please don’t be. I realize there are exceptions to everything I’m stating here, and I’m simply commenting on trends–not hard, fast facts–this is a blog, not a newspaper.