Back in the days prior to the Civil Rights Movement, bleaching black skin was an accepted taboo. Advertising in major black magazines like Ebony and Jet, use to extol the benefits of using bleaching creams. The message was clear: You were prettier, more acceptable to society and desirable to men if your skin was lighter and brighter.
But the tumultuous 60’s rolled in. Coloreds and Negroes discovered their black was beautiful. The expressions Black Power and Black Pride stirred up America like a tornado. “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud!” was heard from sea to shining sea. For the first time, African Americans gazed in the mirror without shame and embraced their dark hues, kinky hair and fuller features. Finally, they would overcome the hatred, perceived inferiority and unworthiness that 400 years of negative propaganda perpetrated. As a daughter of a civil rights activist, I thought Black is Beautiful would last forever.
But then the Oo-La-La 80’s emerged. The European look was back in vogue for black people. Keen features and lighter skin were once again the desired look.
In the 21st century, we are still grappling with skin color. In the age of multiculturalism, whitening creams are making a comeback. People of color all over the world are bleaching their skin including Africans, West Indians, Latinos, Asians and African Americans. Did biases against dark skin people ever really go away?
Evelyn Nakano Glenn, a professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a NYTimes.com post on skin whitening. “…It is not as if dark-skinned women are imagining a bias…Sociological studies have shown among African-Americans and also Latinos, there’s a clear connection between skin color and socioeconomic status. It’s not some fantasy. There is prejudice against dark-skinned people, especially women in the so-called marriage market.”
Don’t fit in, you don’t get in. How that standard crept back into African American culture baffles me. I still can’t believe Black is Beautiful is the exception, not the rule.
There is a price to pay for bleaching your way into societal acceptance. Skin lightening creams are dangerous to your skin. Many brands contain steroid corticosteroid and mercury, which over time can cause blemishing, burnt marks, thinning of the skin, eroded protection against UV rays, hypertension, cancer, liver and kidney failure, even death.
Many celebrities are alleged to be bleaching their black skin…
Is this a new statement of haute style and beauty or a retreat into self hate?Are we going backward instead of forward? What do you think of Blacks bleaching their skin? Would you do it?
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