“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a deep pain...

"You must use the DARK skin slaves vs. the LIGHT skin slaves, and the LIGHT skin slaves vs. the DARK skin slaves."
- from "The Making of a Slave" by Willie Lynch

I wasn't going to write another blog today but I just got finished watching a few very disturbing videos on YouTube and I just feel compelled to write. I've been watching videos on the skin bleaching epidemic that is going on within the Black community. Maybe epidemic isn't a good way to describe it, I haven't read any statistics on the matter so I don't know if there is an overwhelming number of Black women doing this, but one is too many. One particular video that I was watching was an old episode of the Tyra show where she had on Black women who bleach their skin and were proud of it. Watching this made me want to cry...as a matter of fact, I did cry.

As Black woman it hurts so, so much to see my sisters destroying themselves, the inside as well as the outside, because they have been brainwashed by society to think that lighter skin is better. It's mind blowing. I wanted to jump through the computer and shake every single one of them and then give them a hug because obviously these women need a hug badly. As you can see from my pictures, I am a brown skinned Black woman, a lot of people consider me light skinned but I don't think I am. I am very happy with my complexion. I would never bleach my skin. The idea has never crossed my mind. The closest I have ever come to a skin lightener is using the Ambi fade cream to turn my elbows and knees from three shades darker than me, to match the rest of my brown body.

Growing up, my mother always gave my sister and I so much love. She complimented us all the time telling us how smart and beautiful we were. My mom is a very light Black woman who could probably pass and she has never once made us feel like she was prettier or we weren't good enough because we weren't as light as her. She has always been proud of her beautiful brown babies. I honestly think we never even noticed that our mother was different than us, as far as complexion.

I feel like I'm rambling now, but I am just so sad. I really really want to just cry. How far have we fallen as a people when we get to the point where we want to use potentially life-threatening chemicals to change the color of our skin? What happened to the Black pride and the Black power of the 60s and 70s when we said "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm proud"? What happened to "Black is Beautiful" and "The Blacker the Berry the Sweeter the Juice"? We are going backwards not forwards. We're going back to the days of the brown-paper bag test and field nigger -house nigger. Its sad. Its overwhelming. Malcolm and Marcus Garvey are probably rolling in their graves! Bleaching your skin?! God help us.

However, honestly I can see why some women do get so brainwashed to believe that the dark skin is ugly. Everywhere you look you see light women being put on a pedestal. Magazines, music videos, commercials, movies, television...it is very rare to see a dark Black woman put in the stars. Idolized. Loved. There's Naomi Campbell but she is a rare exception. Whats one Naomi when you have Halle, Beyonce, Rihanna, and a host of light, exotic-looking video girls being thrown in your face as what the standard of Black beauty should be. Now, you even have Kim Kardashian who isn't even Black but for some reason her appearance is becoming a standard of beauty in the Black community! So for an already damaged woman, someone who may have grown up without a loving adult in their life to help build their self-esteem, when you have these sorts of images thrown in your face ALL of the time and you see these women getting the man, getting the fame, whatever it is; you probably are going to want to be like them. And if the common factor is that they're all light, that's what you're going to want to be too.

And as crazy as this sounds, the problem isn't just affecting Black women. There are some Black men who participate in this foolishness. The popular Jamaican dancehall artist Vybz Kartel bleaches his skin. He's even mentioned it in his songs. He's calls the stuff he uses, cake soap. He went from looking like a normal Black man to looking like something from "Night of the Living Dead." The cake soap turned him grey! But from interviews I've read of him, he doesn't find anything wrong with this. He basically summed it up to saying that when women stop wearing weaves and getting breast implants and white women stop tanning then he'll stop using cake soap. Even baseball great (we won't talk steroid allegations) Sammy Sosa decided that his brown skin wasn't good enough and went out and got himself bleached. He went from being a very handsome Black Dominican man to looking like Count Chocula. Its amazing because myself and mostly all of my girlfriends find dark, dark men very attractive. I don't know too many Black women (and my white BFF) who don't love a deep chocolate brotha (or any shade of brotha for that matter).

The worse part of all of this and something very disturbing to me is that some mothers are taking it upon themselves to bleach their children's skin! Why on earth would you want to do that to your precious child? Not only are you harming them physically but you're harming them psychologically. By putting skin bleaching cream on your child you are basically telling them that they are ugly, that they aren't good enough. You're telling them in order to be loved and special they need to be light. One of the women in the YouTube video of the Tyra show said that she bleached her three sons every morning before school. She said it would make them look more "presentable." Another sister who obviously had A LOT of self-hate said that she purposely had a child with an Asian man so that her child would turn out light. She said that she would never want to have a dark baby on her hip because basically it wouldn't be a good look. Willie Lynch is still alive and well i see.

I worry about the future of my Black brothers and sisters when I see foolishness like this going on. Yes, there are a lot of things that most see as worse than skin bleaching going on in our communities such as drugs, violence, poverty and horrible educational systems, but in my opinion skin bleaching goes right up there on the list along with those. When a Black person bleaches their skin to become lighter it is a matter of self hate and very low self worth. How can we love our communities and work to make them better if we don't even love ourselves? How can we teach our children to value life, value education and value themselves if we hate what we see in the mirror? Its scary. It is very scary that this is how we're thinking. I get scared when I think about my beautiful niece who will be ten in four days. She is a beautiful shade of Viola Davis chocolate and I worry that no matter how much her parents love her and tell her she is beautiful, that she will be blinded and bamboozled by the images the world presents and she will grow up to hate her color. I worry that she will believe some smart-mouth kid on the playground who calls her "blackie" or "ugly" more than she will believe me who calls her "princess" and "black & beautiful." It is so scary.

My mind is still so blown... its going to take me a few days to really get this off of my heart. It feels heavy. I feel sad and hurt. So, any thoughts, comments, whatever, please share.


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