On Being A Darkie, Spanish, Whitey, or Reds

On Darkie Spanish Whitey Reds - Trinidad, Tobago / Caribbean - Posted: 21st Jun, 2020 - 1:06pm

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Colorism issues in T&T - Race - Racism in Trinidad and Tobago
Post Date: 22nd Oct, 2007 - 8:04pm / Post ID: #

On Being A Darkie, Spanish, Whitey, or Reds

Yesterday I came across this blog which discusses the issue of what it means to be a "Darkie" as well as "Spanish" and other terms we often hear in Trinidad. I must confess the way the terms are used here are absolutely different as how I personally would use it, specially the term "Spanish".

Anyhow, you can read the entry blog and add your views. Do you find the term "Darkie" insulting or nothing wrong with it?:

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So I"Ve been thinking about language and the various forms it takes on through those deeply imbued meanings and societal meanings through popular colloquialisms. Specifically though, I"Ve been thinking about those various instances while walking down the street in Trinidad and some random man at the side of the road hisses, "Darkie" to me in a licentious tone as I walk on by. It usually brings a smile to my face these days and it's not just nostalgic because I spend most of the year in school in the States. The contemporary usage of the word "Darkie" fascinates me. Despite the scope of this blog, I am a feminist, so I believe that it is no where near as offensive as say, a man shouting, "Yuh have REAL nice breasts!" (Which has also happened. Cringe.) Funnily enough, it seems as though it's not really me, or this female body that I possess, that is being objectified per se (Though technically, it's still a kind of catcall). It's really largely attributed to the fact that I am a particular shade. While catcalls of darkie are still sexist to a certain extent; it is not reserved solely for women. Men can be darkies too. When someone says darkie to me, it's not as overtly sexist as some other things one might say. Its contemporary usage here is also markedly different from the American "Darky" (With a "Y") which is an old-termed racial slur rooted in the era of blackface and epitomizing the negative stereotypes of dark-skinned people.

Which begs the question, are you a "Darkie" because you are dark-skinned and perceived as attractive by the said individual or are you one just because of your dark skin tone? Depending on the context, the answer may fall somewhere between a combination of the two. And so I find myself contemplating the way in which the term "Darkie" is used at home. I like the term darkie, in fact I am quite fond of the word itself because it is rooted entirely in skin color. But not just any skin color but a dark skin tone. It's more than just descriptive as well. More like a verbal sound-kiss against ebony skin. One that is not heard too often in many other places. Darkie is an offspring of the word dark and exists on the opposite end of the spectrum from "Light." It is talking specifically and entirely about a beautiful dark skin tone, in all its chocolate splendor. Especially as it is frequently paired with an equally endearing qualitative adjective, 'sweet."

As in, "Dat is one sweet darkie dere." I love it. I cannot think of any other endearing descriptive term that is located entirely in a dark skin tone. "Black" people are all tones and it's kind of a neutral term. "Darkie," is full of warmth, at least when used by a Trini and even more complimentary when you place 'sweet" before it. I"Ve had some Latinos call me a "Morena," and depending on who you ask, it either means a Dominican female, a black female from anywhere, a black Latina or any female with African ancestry mixed in there somewhere. My Trini friend studying in Brazil (Who might be a few smidgens "Lighter" than me) told me once about the Brazilian men referring to her on the street as "Mocha." I am not exactly sure if it was always positive or negative or mixed.

One term that comes to mind in correlation to "Darkie" is "Browning" and the two terms function differently in very distinct ways. Patricia Mohammed in her piece describes the usage of "Browning" in Jamaican culture as connected to "A preference for "Brown" as opposed to black women or unmixed women." Furthermore, a Trini friend who did her degree in Jamaica, complained to me once that everyone there thought that she was rolling in money only because she was "Brown," even though she was not and this was always annoying to her. "Browning" then functions in Jamaica as a kind of perceived socio-economic marker as well. It is class, color and status all rolled into one in a way that the term darkie is not. The term "Darkie" does not confer any particular social or economic status for the ascribed individual other than, well being a dark-skinned person. This need for a kind of induced othering (That is other than black that is), exists in many places to varying degrees. This comes as a result of slavery and the high value placed on white culture and by association, anything that was further from African-ness was closer to white and therefore better. Black was visibly other than white and therefore bad. Saying darkie is like calling attention to that which others fight to be other than.

Black Americans instituted the "Paper bag test" which followed the same theory that the category of "Browning" seems to allude. Probably "Red-bone" in the States as it is used today particularly in urban culture is closer to "Browning." Just as Mohammed references the Buju Banton song "Love mi Browning," in the States, the "Red-bone" is almost always a desirable female of a particular shade. She is the counterpart of the desirable brown skinned woman and the much sought after mulatta. It is interesting to note that it is always women who get color categorized the most by societal terminology. Colorism serves an important function of separating certain people from quote-on-quote "Blackness." You know, if one happens to be so inclined that is. It allows people to safely attribute some ambiguous mixed heritage with just the right amount of African heritage.

In Trinidad, Aisha Khan in her piece notes that the term "Spanish" functions in that way, where ""Spanish" is used in part to affirm an ethnic hierarchy where 'softened" or ambiguous "African" or "Black" convey and confer a higher status that modifies the perceived stronger or more clear-cut expression of "African" or "Black" attributes." The thing is in the West Indies, significant amounts of people are in fact mixed. What concerns me though is the ease with which we tend to steer away from an African connection as though it is sickening like the plague. All these terms in effect serve as "Ethnic modifiers" of blackness. That is to say, this is where they are historically rooted. As though it is something dirty that we"D rather not be tarnished with. That's kind of sad, the fact that people are so deathly afraid of being linked to "Blackness....

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Post Date: 23rd Oct, 2007 - 5:05pm / Post ID: #

Reds Whitey Spanish Darkie Being On

It is positive vis a vis the negative stereotypes that one frequently hears against women with dark or black skin.
I would not refer to any woman by her colour but again in T&T, this takes on a different shade of meaning and understanding.

the grey fox

Post Date: 27th Oct, 2007 - 8:55pm / Post ID: #

On Being A Darkie, Spanish, Whitey, or Reds Caribbean / Tobago & Trinidad

I am a feminist

First you have to take that into consideration when reading this. Then after reading you will see it a lot bout nothing really.

Post Date: 13th Feb, 2008 - 2:17am / Post ID: #

Reds Whitey Spanish Darkie Being On

Name: Marie

Comments: I must say I mostly agree with this blog entry and what the author of it was saying. Being myself a Trinbagonian woman and also a "darkie" I cannot see anything wrong with it in the form that it is used in my home country.

Whether I would use it in the USA where I currently am is a important question to me, and maybe I would because it does set my thinking apart from that of local Americans. However I also acknowledge that in the USA it could be taken as racist so wisdom demands that it is avoided!

It is very hard to see a racist or degrading intention behind something that has only been used to uplift women in my experience. I must say when I am called a "sexy darkie" or even "darkness" which is my nickname I can only feel good about myself and comfortable in my own skin!

As to "reds" and "spanish" that is very much the same as with "darkie" and from what I have seen is never really used in T&T in a bad way however different islands do have different meanings for the same words.

Post Date: 13th Feb, 2008 - 8:09pm / Post ID: #

Reds Whitey Spanish Darkie Being On

Actually, even though Trini expressions may be taken literally by some, it is an expression of the old patois description of people by their physical characteristcs!
It is only when used in a degrading manner, then it become a problem.

Hanging around with my Central and South American panas, it is not unusual to hear 'mi negra' o 'mi negrita' spoken to a blond, or 'guera' to a Spanish looking dyed hair mestiza, or 'morena' or 'chola' to describe such a person!

As a matter of fact, there exists a schedule of castas where each ethnicity, when mixed with another, produces a certain phenotype known by a specific naming convention. I will post asap.

Haga clik
Source 5j
Source 4y
Source 8r

This is academic only with no refence to the apparent absurdity of some of the classifications!

Post Date: 24th Aug, 2008 - 6:20pm / Post ID: #

On Being A Darkie, Spanish, Whitey, or Reds

I think in quite a few black societies there is a kind of bias against people with darker skin. For some reason it seems that having a skin colour closer to white is considered better. But I don't think the term "red" is offensive as such, or at least it's not really used in such a context. If a black person has fair skin, then he/she is "red-skinned". Statements of fact are not offensive in themselves.

Post Date: 29th Sep, 2008 - 3:00pm / Post ID: #

On Being Darkie Spanish Whitey Reds

I am called "Spanish" a lot but this is funny because I am not of Spain.

Post Date: 21st Jun, 2020 - 1:06pm / Post ID: #

On Being Darkie Spanish Whitey Reds

I think "Hispanic" or "Latina" would be a better term like they do in the USA. Now, with all the immigrants they just say "Venee" but I can see people from other Spanish speaking countries not relating to that or even being angered by it. In general, using the terms reds, darkie and so on didn't seem to be a big deal until a lot of us started listening to what is being broadcast in the USA.

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