Skin, a Netflix documentary discussing the issues related to colorism and skin bleaching in Nigeria, appeared on my TV screen while searching for another program. It triggered my interest immediately since this is a consistent topic on this website. After viewing the documentary, I found its subject matter interesting but also tragic. The same story related to colorism has been translated globally from the United States to the farthest regions of the world. It is the belief that whiter skin is somehow better and more desirable than darker skin tones. As a result, the idealization of light skin as the key beauty standard has affected the self esteem for women and girls around the world. In many cultures, skin color is a key social marker for gauging the attractiveness, career opportunities, marriageability and socioeconomic status of its citizenry.
Today’s blog post will use videos to reinforce the content. Please review at your leisure.
$8.6 Billion was spent worldwide on skin bleaching creams in 2020.
There is trUth in this experience since the early colonizers, who held the ultimate POWER, reinforced this reality for millions of people of color. It was clear who gained access to desirable employment, business opportunities or generational wealth. Skin color has been assigned with POWER to access privilege in many societies and most of US recognize this reality in a very practical way. It is so important that the skin bleaching industry has exploded globally in spite of the fact that many skin whitening products (some illegal) contain ingredients, like mercury and hydroquinone, which have been linked to poisoning, skin damage, liver and kidney malfunction and skin cancer. Yet, the idea that skin tone alone should determine the opportunities and value of another human is both dismissive and ignorant.
For the sake of this blog post we shall now refer to colorism as a worldwide cultural phenomenon. It is so pervasive and insidious it transcends ethnic heritage and country of origin. America has it own particular relationship with colorism founded in our shameful past of slavery but its roots go much deeper influencing the early colonizers who saw the world as their birth right to explore and conquer. It is not just US demonstrating the same beliefs about people of varying shades of color and what it means if one possesses degrees of melanin. Our collective relationship to color and race is founded on the shared HIS–torical roots of racism which designated the indigenous peoples across the globe as inferior. This faulty belief still resonates to this day but people across the world are slowly starting to understand and remove the invisible mind shackles fostered under a white superiority indoctrination system. At some point, we will all appreciate and celebrate who we BE (white, yellow, brown, red, black etc.) without diminishing the “other” creating these false narratives of distinctions.
Scientists and sociologist have often argued that race is a social construct without biological meaning. This means it exists because humans say it exists. It is a human-invented classification system used as a way to define social, cultural and physical differences between people. Skin tone is one of the most obvious features to identify and immediately classify people without further assessment. From the very beginning, it has more often than not been used as a tool for oppression, separation and violence. Research studies of the complete genomes from different parts of the world, for example, have shown that there is not a single absolute genetic difference where all Africans have one genetic variant and all Europeans another one. This also has deeper roots connected to our common human ancestor, nicknamed Lucy, whose origins date back 3.2 millions years ago discovered in Hadar, Ethiopia.
Much more information is available about this topic but it is really quite fascinating and disheartening that we, as a collective, do not search for deeper trUth so easily accessible. The divisive, indoctrination constructs, via the educational, familial, and societal systems, are difficult to dismantle easily. It is the ultimate mental prison sentence with no opportunity for parol but CHANGE does happen – – gradually and eventually. The issues about race and the implications assigned to skin color are as faulty today as the original racist assumptions made so long ago. Fortunately, there is no where to run from the trUth if one has enough curiosity and courage of conviction to see it.
So join me now in a global review of this worldwide cultural phenomenon.
The results are shocking but unfortunately not surprising.
Caribbean & Latin America
Is this Australian model unattractive?
The colorism story goes on and on …