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There seems to be confusion on this website about why AA react so strongly about caricatures that highlight and distort a "typical black" nose.  I thought I would share some personal feelings I have on the subject.

I have a "black" nose.  I'm not sure how to describe it but it is the one feature of my face that would signal to the observer that there is something "ethnic" about me.  The light brown skin would as well but my nose (and probably hair) would set me apart from "passing" as any other race than black.

Growing up, I hated my nose.  I wished I had a typical European nose.  Something narrow and sharp.  Growing up bi-racial, I wondered if I had my mothers nose instead of my fathers (and for the record, I have a combination of both) if I would be more appealing to boys. And by boys, I mean white ones.

African American noses are never celebrated.  As a young woman, I rarely saw a role model or an actress that had a nose that reflected mine.  If you look at the mainstream media, you will noticed that most "attractive" African American women have traditional white noses.  See Halle Berry, Kerry Washington, Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell.  

Even Oprah Winfery, who definitely has a traditional AA nose, uses makeup to make her nose appear thinner and more "white" like.  

When younger, classmates would comment on my "weird" nose and yes somebody would compare it to a monkeys.  

When I look at racist depictions of AA, the broadening of our noses is a common tactic.  

If it appears that I am sensitive about it, it's because I have had a lifetime of conditioning that says there is something ugly and "gorilla-like" about my nose.

In reality there is nothing wrong with my nose.  It fits my face and frankly I'm a pretty attractive lady.  I have a different nose.  

One of the most hurtful things my husband ever said to me was saying that my nose was my most unattractive feature.  He is white by the way and he couldn't understand how a simple comment was sooo hurtful to to me.  I told him that my nose was perfectly fine but it just didn't fit his "white" definition of what is attractive.  For the record, he thinks I'm actually very attractive.

He couldn't understand that for so many of us that are black, our noses have been a source of ridicule and scorn.  It's the thing that racist use to compare us to gorillas or monkeys or chimps.  Our hair is another source of racism but that is a whole different diary.

When I see cartoons or depictions that highlight and distort this feature, I do get a reaction.  Shame.  As if I should be shameful of my nose.  It's a sad reaction.  I shouldn't be shameful of a perfectly fine feature.  Yes, it's different than what magazines push as the standard but that doesn't make it ugly.  

Cartoons that use a wide nose to satire AA are lazy.  

They are appealing to a base, nasty, deep seated prejudice that AA noses are ugly.  And somewhere out there is a little AA girl or boy who once again feels shameful about a natural feature of their face.

Originally posted to sideboth on Fri Nov 29, 2013 at 08:15 AM PST.

Also republished by Discussing Race At Daily Kos, Black Kos community, and Barriers and Bridges.

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