Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bleaching Blacks - Vybz Kartel Style

Let me start off with a few wikipedia definitions to explain the title of my post.

Bleach: "A chemical that removes colors, whitens, or disinfects, often by oxidation.  Common chemical bleaches include household chlorine bleach...lye...and bleaching powder."

Vybz Kartel: "Adidja Palmer (born January 7, 1976), better known as Vybz Kartel, is a Jamaican dancehall artist, songwriter and businessman."

Some of you may understand the connection between bleach, Blacks and pretty much any and all dark skinned peoples worldwide, and currently the infamous "cake soap" and Vybz Kartel.  If not, here's an article from the Jamaica Observer (read in its entirety):


And for those that don't like reading and know that Jamaican is not a language, here's the actual interview:

This is not an isolated issue.  This is not a new issue.  Black identity has historically been rooted in one's lightness and darkness (clearskin, brownin', lightskinned, high yellow, yellow, mixed, red, darkie, blue black, darkness, shiny black, chocolate black, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, mocha, quadroon, octoroon, nigga black, field slave black, house slave black, nearly white, and the list can go on and on for black colour descriptors).  A Black person's black complexion, and degrees of black skin tone, is one of the most important - and most contentious - factors within the Black community.

No, this is not me going on a rant.  I'm just stating the facts rooted within the coloured history and present day identity struggles of Black and other dark skinned communities (I can pretty much replace Black with South Asian in this post).

Is it thought to be better to be lighter in the Black community?  Yes.  Do I believe it is better or easier to be lighter?  Yes.  Do I think Obama would've been elected if he was as dark as Wesley Snipes?  Nope.  Am I proud that I'm six degrees from being the colour of the midnight abyss?  Hell yes.

I'll admit that I'm a victim of these beliefs and part of the problem.  Lightskin Black women like Halle Berry, Sharon Carpenter, and Paula Patton, are my "type".  (For the record, those women are fine as hell regardless of what your type may or may not be.)

Black identity is synonymous with one's Black colour.  Black colour is synonymous with self respect and self worth.  And social and economic class and life opportunities in many societies around the world are determined by one's Black complexion.  Like it or not, just like the ideological historical devaluation of Blackness and Black identity that I've written on earlier in this blog, the "lighter is better" modus operandi is a White European historical creation.  A creation that's alive and well and more destructive than ever.

You can bring on the comments about the similarities of White people tanning to Black people bleaching because it's all about changing your skin colour, but that's apples and oranges.  Last time I checked, The Situation wasn't leading a symposium or writing a song on the social impact of White people getting darker and melanoma.

Listen to the lyrics of this song and you'll understand.

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