Our self destructive obsession with having light skin

It is an unfortunate reality that engrained deep into the black psychology is the belief that light skinned blacks are somehow superior than their darker skinned equals.

This belief stems all the way back to slavery, where the white slave owners would have illegitimate children, born from and of their black slaves.

These illegitimate children were often publicly denied by the slave owner parents but given special ‘jobs of privilege’ around the slave owner mansion. These privileges were jobs such as chamber maid, or other tasks that gave them indoor privileges.

These illegitimate children considered themselves to be better than their other slave counterparts, often romanticising the horrific circumstances around their conception.

Such was the delusion of the black slaves at the time, that some parents would offer up their children to be defiled by the slave owners in order to achieve favour on the plantation.

Slavery, in that form, is no longer prevalent in the West Indies and Africa, yet the misguided belief that a lighter skin will make you more successful or desirable lingers.

Black people, Indians, Pakistanis, and Asians throughout the world flock to shops and salons to have bleaching cream applied to their skin in order to make them lighter.




These bleaching creams are readily and openly advertised in magazines, newspapers and in television commercials, teaching all generations, and the generations to follow, that it is desirable to have light skin.

Of course, Michael Jackson is the most obvious example of this self loathing, but there are other prominent people in the media who have also fallen victim to this form of self hatred.

There is a common diagnosis that this is ‘Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder’, however in labelling it as such, we take away the responsibility of the individual to rectify their thinking and realign their attitudes towards all members of their race.

This attitude of superiority is not just that of the light skinned, but is also subconsciously, and sometimes consciously, perpetuated by their darker skinned counterparts.

There is an implied privilege and superiority amongst some light skinned blacks that has been inferred by their darker counterparts to this day.

In recent Australian history, black aboriginal children were stolen from their parents. Lighter skinned aboriginals children were taken as the most desirable to the white settler families, and advertised in newspapers for white only adoptions.

The Australian government was not only trying to ‘breed the black’ out of the Aboriginals, but there actions were tantamount to genocide upon the Aboriginal race.

Other non white communities have in the past, and are currently voluntarily adopting, at least in part, the ideology of the Australian government policy against a black race.

The light skinned blacks worldwide still have privilege unduly heaped upon them as they were heaped upon their forbears.

Even now in the West Indies light skinned people get promoted to positions of seniority faster than their darker counterparts. Lighter skinned people are employed in preference to darker skinned people, and tend to get the better jobs. Lighter skinned people are considered more trustworthy, approachable, desirable than the darker skinned. Young men are still encouraged to bring home the light skinned girls while young women are warned off the “no good” dark skinned men.

The irony is that no matter how light that these light skinned people get, they are never seen as white by their white counterparts; only the black community accept them for who they are.

In Barbados, as in other black countries where whites are a small minority, enclaves of white communities huddle to themselves, managing to remain “genetically pure” for generations, actively protecting the genetic heritage of their slave owner past.

Black Caucus representatives have seen three generations of women in a supermarket in Barbados, clearly born and bred on the island, each generation managing to remain ‘blond haired and blue eyed’, despite being in a 1% minority on the island.

Black Caucus representatives have seen a massive family gatherings of ‘blue eyed’ Bajans sitting around a table in a restaurant. The gathering spanned several generations, yet there was not one black face among them. No husband or wife who had married into the family, no daughter or son of mixed race. It was amazing that this was possible when the local white community in Barbados made up such a small percentage of the population. With whom were these people breeding?

In an attempt by black people to obtain light skin they either, go to salons and have bleaching creams applied, or they buy the creams and lotions and apply it themselves.

The people who use these creams use words like “freshening their skin” or “cleaning their skin”. This practice is not limited to one gender.

What happens when two people who use skin whiteners reproduce and their offspring is a combination of the true colour of the parents? Do they start applying skin whitening creams to the child? At what age would they allow their offspring to start using these creams? Is it then the responsibility of those parents to teach the child to be happy with their own skin colour, or will they impose their own misguided values on their child?

Some of the chemicals that are prevalent in the creams have been linked to kidney failure and in some cases cancer, yet these creams readily adorn the pages of black magazines like Ebony and Essence.

Changing our own preconceptions of beauty and success is important to our healing process as a people.

It is important for our generation, and the next generation of blacks, to change our ideas, to turn away from the outdated trappings of privilege, wealth and beauty.

We must shake off the old perceptions of our parents and embrace the diversity that exists in our ‘every shade of black’ community.

We must learn to love the skin we are in

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