By Derenle Animasaun

The black skin is not a badge of shame but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.” – Marcus Garvey


In 2014,  I wrote ‘Brown is the new white’I did so in response to the fact that Nigeria was top of the league table for bleaching. It ratcheted up the love for bleaching by going even paler, in the shade of white. From creams to potions to all out white. No, this is not progress, it is self loathing and misguided.  It is shallow and narrow minded. It is very dangerous and harmful.

So here we are, in 2019,and we are watching a car crash of a horror show as a woman is in a bath and stripped of her melanin.  This is utter repugnance and repulsive.  How can  anyone in their right mind go to the length(or depths)to strip themselves of their God given gift of dark skin?.

Self loathing and disrespect of our black skin knows no bounds. Frankly, they do not deserve the melanin.  Our skin is, to protect from the sun and elements.

I am sure many more are falling over themselves to have this horrific experience of being stripped of their top layer. More fool them.

It is so wrong on so many levels. In the video which was viewed by over a million, we see a woman soaked in a bath of murky water,another woman can be seen scraping the skin off the back of the woman in the bath. And she shows the dominant as if it was a prize. I do not know about you, but it was like peeling tripe of its outer layer.

Sadly, this is not tripe, it is a living person ! The mind boggles where these people’s heads are at. Who in their right mind sits in a vat of chemicals to have their upper layer peeled off? It is a shame.

The more, the woman scraped off the skin, the darker the water becomes.

And of course,you hear the woman praise her business; “As you can see, it’s very fast. You can see now it’s peeling off and this is December period, it’s very, very effective. The result is instant. Can you see this? It works just for 30,000 naira. The skin peels off immediately and you get whitening immediately.”

A moment of madness is a lifetime of regrets. These places are not regulated and anything that artificially strips your upper layer, has untold health consequences. What message are they sending to people and what are the government doing about shutting such establishments down?

Ghana and Rwanda have been very proactive in banning bleaching creams and paraphernalia. Time Nigeria followed suit.

We have an epidemic when over 7 out 10 Nigerians ‘tone’ or bleach or worse still, remove pigmentation.

Bleaching methods are paint strippers and in spite of the warning from reputable scientists and dermatologists, it falls on deaf ears. The gullible and the opportunists Buyers be beware.  There is a discussion to be had at home, social gathering, in schools, in faith groups, at work, at institutions and in the media.

From my archive :

Say it loud, I am black and proud; sang James Brown. The song carried so much weight and when you sang the song, you believed it. It meant so much to hear that when I was growing up. It was a time when race and colour was wrestled out of the hands of those who systematically defiled and oppressed the whole black race and wrote us off as inferior.

” I am not tragically coloured. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes… Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I don’t weep at the world- I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” – Zora Neale Hurston

Unfortunately, some of us carry the complex and scars till today and we merely pass the inferior complex from our generation to the next.  We need to break this chain of self-hatred and identity crisis.

And yet, there was a time when we did take back our pride, dignity and affirmed that we were, who we are; black and jolly well proud to be black. In Nigeria, then we went better than that, we hosted FESTAC in 1977 to showcase Black peoples’ achievements and our rich heritage.

The world sat up and took notice and we truly inspired Africans and Diasporas alike. That now it seems so long ago, as Nigeria tops the league of skin lightening users in the world.

A recent World Health Organization report has revealed that Nigerian women are the biggest users of skin-lightening products. The study revealed that 77 percent of women bleach their skin. Togo came second with 59 percent and Senegal third with 27 percent. So, according to the report, nearly 8 out of 10 Nigerian women bleach their skin.

So there are unscrupulous people capitalizing on the gullible and their insecurities. They are laughing all the way to the bank. They peddle this whiteners and laud it as the solution to life’s obstacles and the panacea to success. So this young talentless musician, attention seeking musician has put  Nigeria, again on the map (for the wrong  reasons)with her  brand of whitening  products and she is a living advert for this  product.

Dencia, before, was a pretty black girl, who for the reason known only to herself decided to go white from head to toe.  Now she wants to get more black sisters to do the same even when she admits that her products have not been scientifically examined and approved and what if they get cancer? She glibly said, “People can also catch cancer just by breathing!” She does not care much who uses her products or what they do with it, she said!  So, I am sure she is not  bothered if those using her products get cancer. All she is concerned about is how many units she can sell and how rich it can make her. If  we  accept whitening as a choice we run  the risk of normalizing a trend that has serious implication on the health of the nation and its psyche.

Look around you, if you have not noticed ,we now have an altered view of beauty; whitened, heavily made up, with large pneumatic chest, fake hair and a very serious identity crisis. Nigeria has a serious societal problem and we need to face it.

“Dipped in chocolate, bronzed in elegance, enamelled with grace, toasted with beauty. My Lord, she’s a black woman.” –Yosef A.A. Ben-jochannan

For  those  who  use this potion, they should beware there are health consequences, which may not be  apparent in the short term, but it will  eventually and perhaps they could  justify their loss of pigmentations to cancers and serious skin conditions. These people are psychologically damaged, that they do not understand that they cannot buy acceptance by changing their skin. It would be more prudent to work on their self-esteem rather than,who people think they should be.

We have a herd mentality and they often follow a trend without questioning the rationale; we always want what the other has.You name it; we want it,be it the latest car,jet, appliances, the largest party, the biggest hair,clothes and now this, extreme change of skin colour. Our society has a misplaced sense of beauty if these whitened people are put on a pedestal and has an example of what is beautiful and best of our women. Don’t get me wrong, I have been told, it is not only women domain that men are into whitening too. We seriously have a societal problem.

I have been told that men like whiter looking black women or so we are made to believe. But I hasten to add, that some men including my father, loved my mother’s dark skin. It is smooth and velvety and it ages less as a result. It is important that self worth is taught at home and our role models starts at home and if we do not have one, we look somewhere. So, the media becomes the go to. A very unrealistic expectation ensues  and it is not attainable or sustainable.

Unfortunately, some people believe, that in order to be successful, that you have to be fairer that darker people cannot make it. I beg to differ.

Tell that to Naomi Campbell, Bianca, Alek Wek, or Pattie Boulaye, the  star of BISI THE  DAUGHTER OF  THE  RIVER or  recently the darling of the  film world Kenyan actress, Lupita N’yongo  of the 12 YEARS A SLAVE game  is dark, savvy, striking, ambitious and strikingly beautiful.

We are always seeking acceptance from those around us to justify our existence.  This trend is disturbing and as black people, in a black country we should understand that it is damaging to our very existence as a race and as a people. For those who are unaware of our shared history, it seems that many are ignorant, uneducated, deluded and brain washed to believe that white is better and being black is something to be ashamed of.

It  will  be unfair to blame the self-loathing on European colonialism alone, as prior to that in  some communities in Asia, feel that the fairer you are the superior  you are and that  dark skins are  from the peasant or  untouchables  and the  white complexion are from the ruling classes. So no wonder some people go through lengths to move up and better their lot.

For these deluded people, they should look back into the history of slavery or the history of colonization to understand where their opposition to self-acceptance comes from. The  systemic negative perception of dark skin is  not  only  about  our past  but  also the propagation  by the media on favouring white as being best and black as being bad. Nigerians are not alone in this the same in Thailand, India and China. The same happened in Rwanda, where tribes were pitted against each other by their colonial master. The resulting genocide was very much rooted in skin colour.

The way we ourselves view our perception of beauty fans the continuance of these groundless beliefs by repeatedly presenting and upholding one ideal standard of beauty.

Melanin is an incomparable beauty. From the lightest to the darkest skin tone, black women are exquisitely beautiful in every shade. Yes, black females have that special something that just can’t be ignored. We are melanin queens, beautifully created! respect the complexion.” -SL



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