On this “Swarthy-skinned” thingy

I’m cooking pancakes. At 7pm. On a Sunday. And in between checking in on them, I read. And I finally understand this “swarthy-skinned” business I’ve seen bandied about as of late. At the #DiversityinSF twitter hashtag discussions that started a few days past, I noticed this unusual turn of phrase that I’ve never focused attention on before. That’s when it dawned on me it wasn’t referring to sunburn-beet-red folks on ships, it was referring to a skin tone seen on persons of colour. Then the last piece clicked. I saw it used in context that ended my nebuluous understanding, on a “Big Idea” post over at scalzi’s website:-

“Cultures have been clashing throughout existence. It’s not a new idea for a book, but it is pervasive, arguably the fundamental theme of our times: from 9/11 through Iraq and Afghanistan to the financial crises, engendering many cultural responses. Some are overtly on topic, like Zero Dark Thirty, while others are directly influenced (any movie with a swarthy Eastern-looking villain)”

“AH”! I went.

Like not knowing what “Stag & Doe” meant going into my early twenties, until having to do some printing at Kinko’s, (I came To Canada just a few years before, at 14 1/2, after all) I assume it was one of those culturally “late to the party but arrived nonetheless” moments.

Like finding out about watermelon and fried chicken stereotypes.

Or being referred to by the colour, or the specific tone of, my skin.

One of those moments.


3 thoughts on “On this “Swarthy-skinned” thingy

  1. I know what you mean. It’s odd in your adult years to discover yet another term people have invented to describe you in unflattering terms and learn that its been around forever. It’s good though that such terms have had no impact on your life. Easy recognition says something about the kind of people or the kind of terms you’ve had the misfortune to encounter.

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