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Skin Bleaching: From Another Angle

Zhada Stamps, Contributing Writer

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Skin bleaching is the use of chemicals and mixtures to lessen the amount of melanin in the skin, thus causing the skin to be a lighter shade. This has been being done for many years and has reached an all-time high in the Caribbean.

Due to the initial enslavement and colonization of those apart of the African diaspora by varying White powers (such as the British and European), many scholars have come to the consensus that skin bleaching must mean that the person doing it hates themselves and views their high melanin levels as dissatisfying.

In Jamaica, there is a constant battle between African culture and the European culture that has become noticed as the prominent one.

Due to the constant rejection and attack on African culture, there are many Caribbeans who are more comfortable embracing the European culture. As a consequence of the brainwashing, Jamaican mothers are teaching their daughters that their hair is not made to have kinks. Young children are also told that the best color is White, but Brown trumps Black. Everything, essentially, is more accepted than Black. This is where we can begin to see the reasoning for some to skin bleach.

It is important to note and understand that there are various different reasons why someone apart of the African diaspora may want to bleach their skin. Christopher A. D. Charles conducted an experiment that examined the self-esteem levels of people who are skin bleaching.

In conclusion, the experiment dispelled the idea that this is being done out of self-hate primarily and while it still does have connection to the psychological scars that this race of people has faced throughout history, poor self-esteem levels are not the concrete reasoning.

Based on research, there has been another identified, more relevant, possible explanation as to why skin bleaching may be a favored idea. 2016 was a year that was high in explicit police brutality cases that led to the death of many young men and women. Being a spectator of these aggressive times, a person of color may feel that their skin lands them in a dangerous position in society. Skin bleaching may be being done as a means to survival.

The possibility of there being a casualty when a White police officer approaches a Black civilian is much higher than if there is an interaction between a White police officer and a White civilian. Being that someone is born Black, they have no other way of protecting themselves when they are living in a society that is focused and resentful toward their skin color, but to alter it to some extent- such as bleaching. They were simply born with the wrong color and are now forced to try to find an escape.

In 2015, the Census shows that unarmed black people were killed five times the rate of unarmed whites in 2015. Out of the 102 reported cases that showed the unarmed black only ten of the officers were charged with a crime; two of these deaths (Matthew Ajibade and Eric Harris) had the officers involved convicted.

In Matthew Ajibade’s case, the police officer actually received jail time, he served a sentence of one year. There were at least 258 African American deaths in the US in 2016 at the hands of White police officers. Race has seemed to become the trigger for police. Examining some of these cases, the general public can come to the consensus that a weapon did not need to be drawn or present in order to alleviate the situation.

In summary, while skin bleaching can be traced back to a time where it was being done out of hatred toward one’s culture and a direct reflection of poor self-esteem and self-pride, there is another way to understand why this is being done at such high of a rate. This has become apart of the invisible survival kit that those apart of the African diaspora are forced to carry around as a reaction to the society that views their skin as a concrete reason for the use of ammo.

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William Paterson University's Official Student-Run Newspaper
Skin Bleaching: From Another Angle