You should be ashamed of yourself, Sammy Sosa!

You still a sucker, Sammy Sosa!

I despise Sammy Sosa. Now that I made that statement, please let me explain.

I don’t despise him for the exact person that he is. I despise him for the thing that he represents. Before all of this, I actually respect him as a man. He did what it took to become successful. Accusations of steroids aside, he was still an All-Star and a hard worker. So, I do respect the fact that he was a great athlete.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the fact that this man lightened his skin. This is something I can never have respect for. EVER.

The Skin Bleaching Trend

Yet, this trend isn’t exclusive to people from Central America, I am afraid. Dencia, a Nigerian-Cameroonian pop star, launched a skin care line called Whitenicious [1].  The products were produced to fight dark spots, acne, hyper pigmentation, dark knuckles and knees. Yet, the advertising for the product has Denicia looking as if she rolled around in flour for three hours. Sadly, this “anti-black skin” mentality has become a worldwide epidemic.

Sad part is she was WAY MORE beautiful before this.

Sad part is she was WAY MORE beautiful before this.

And if you think this isn’t a worldwide issue, then let me help enlighten you. The World Health Organization (WHO) has noted that 77 percent of women in Nigeria use skin lightening products [2]. For someone that is from America (like myself), this is close to maddening and beyond saddening. However, Nigeria isn’t the only country: Togo has 59 percent and Senegal has 27 percent, irrespectively [3]. So, yes, this is a worldwide problem now that it covers different continents.

The even sadder moment comes in the form of the health risks associated with the procedures. Most people never initially contact a doctor for a visit for advice about safe skin bleaching. The dangers associated with the use of toxic compounds for skin bleaching include, blood cancers such as leukemia and cancers of the liver and kidneys, as well as severe skin conditions [4]. Yet, these situations do not keep people from doing it. It said hardcore bleachers use illegal ointments containing toxins like mercury, a metal that blocks production of melanin, which gives the skin its color, but can also be toxic [5]. Strange enough, people are doing unhealthy things to themselves to look unhealthy.

Where in the hell did we go wrong with skin bleaching?

Then it hit me like a bag of nickels from a cash register robbery: this all goes back into the “Black is wack/White is Right” mentality that so many black people tend to have. You have FAMOUS people proceeding to lighten their skin for the sake of making themselves “acceptably beautiful”. Yet, if anyone has noticed, they usually look ghostly or grotesque. However, if it wasn’t for situation like slavery and European colonialism (mixed with good old fashion racism), would these beliefs and actions even be popular?

Oh, and there are detractors to what I feel about this. I know I’m going to hear the “Oh, it is their skin and they should do what they please”. That is true. And I know I am going to hear the “I find nothing wrong with it crowd” to justify the destruction of black beauty. And that is someone else’s prerogative, so I can’t make them think a little harder to make a better decision.

However, I can bring this topic up that is actually making me dizzy with confusion. At what point do we realize that OUR SKIN is just as beautiful DARK as it is LIGHT? When do we realize that Black skin comes in many NATURAL variations, shades, and hues that only the blind, self-loathing, and highly judgmental could find to be grotesque? How should young black women (and men, I’m afraid) feel about famous, important, influential people popularizing such derivatives of fuckery? How should I respond to pure Black shame?

I respond by doing what I should always do: educate. I respond by letting people know where this source of shame comes from. I respond by looking at the dangers of doing such procedures. I respond by letting people know that, as many people “lighten” their skin, there are many Caucasians that enjoy “darkening” (tanning) their skin. I respond by letting my readers know that Black is NOT symbolic with shame.

And I hope all of you got that. So, love the skin you are in.

‘Nuff Said and ‘Nuff Respect!!!

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