Clorox is the new Black
we’ve been taught from time that white or anything that remotely resembles white is better than black
Let’s talk about skin bleaching…..
Yeah huunaay, I’m about to go all the way there.
I’ve been wanting to write on this topic for a while, but the time has just never felt right; that was of course until I saw a picture of retired baseball player Sammy Sosa looking like a relative of the alien from E.T.
Even before that though, it felt like I kept regularly coming across a large amount of videos on social media that advertise bleaching products. Maybe it’s just the age of technology effect, but I swear skin bleaching was like that unspoken code that plagued communities of colour. Like you knew people bleached but it wasn’t a topic of conversation beyond your parents gossiping on the phone about all the people that were bleaching in the community.
I’m sure the idea of skin bleaching is a pretty foreign concept to non-POC. I know this, because I always see white people so baffled in the comments sections of these videos online. For the rest of us however, if we didn’t find a bottle of fair and white lying around in our house growing up, or if we didn’t accidentally use a bleaching cream thinking it was regular lotion, then we’ve definitely encountered the aunties and uncles at parties with skin colour that seems to change every 6 months. Again, it was a way of a life so you never really asked questions.
When I was 13 or something like that, my uncle came to visit from Nigeria and my dad basically forced him to bleach his face. (I’ll explain later why it even went that far). Anyways, I remember opening a container of the cream, and I literally felt like I was inhaling acid. That was the first time in my life that I felt like it was finally time to ask questions.
So why bleach?
I think that for anyone who will risk damaging their skin for the sake of having fairer skin will probably tell you that it’s for getting rid of dark spots or because they have the perception that they will look more beautiful with lighter skin. For uneven skin and dark spots I get it, but the average people that use skin lightening creams literally abuse it to the point of skin that looks much worse than a few dark spots and discoloration. The whole idea of lightening one’s skin sounds crazy as shit, and I used to have a pretty hard time wrapping my head around it. But why are we surprised when darker skinned people are literally denied opportunities in some parts of the world because of their skin colour? Why are we surprised when we hear a statements like “I only date light skin women” or when the whole world seems to be threatened by the darker dude walking across the street. I mean, we can hate on the lifestyle of bleaching all we want, but we’ve all been complacent to some extent in allowing phenomena’s like bleaching to manifest into a way of life.
Oh yeah, the story about my uncle.
So based off of what I said in the previous paragraph, than you probably understand why my dad made my uncle bleach his face. It was based on the belief that “the African sun made him look too black and ugly, so he needed to lighten his face”. You know there’s a serious problem when black people are equating blackness to ugliness. What’s up with that though?
That’s just it.
Let’s take Ghana for example. Last year the country took a national stand to ban the import and distribution of products that contain skin lightening chemicals. It was a moment of pride for those of us that try to be Woke, but here’s the thing: what good is this ban when you walk down the street and all the women on the billboards and magazines have lighter skin or are mixed race? What good is the ban when the only representation of Ghana on film have fairer skin? Are we actually solving the root of the problem?
Where do we go from here?
Do I believe that everyone that bleaches their skin hates themselves? Not necessarily, but when it reaches the point of transforming yourself into a brand new person, yeah probably. I think the issue of bleaching ultimately stems from years of accepting the idea of a specific kind of beauty. From racial hierarchies created during colonization, to the house nigger days, permed hair and so forth, we’ve been taught from time that white or anything that remotely resembles white is better than black. And when those that are supposed to be your allies can’t accept your black/ darkness, then who else will?
I’m not going to lie, I get pretty sad when I see before and after pictures of people like Michael Jackson and Sammy Sosa. It’s like an unfortunate reminder that we have a long way to go in our fight for humanity, when people would rather die than to be black (both literally and figuratively). I don’t see skin bleaching going away anytime soon, but I just hope for a day when people of colour will realize that their melanin is one of the greatest gifts to be blessed with.
What are your thoughts?
Share share shareeee your thoughts!!