Friday, May 8, 2009

Skin Bleaching in Jamaica

I have always been aware of the pervasiveness of the practice of skin bleaching in Jamaican culture. Lighter skin is romanticized in ways that compel one to wonder whether our political independence has forged any mental emancipation from the feelings of inferiority that were entrenched in our black foreparents. Every time I return home, one of the first things people remark about my appearance, is my failure to lighten up, even a little bit. "Weren't you in Canada," they ask? I roll my eyes in contempt at their observations, for I find my black skin beautiful.

The inferiority of blacks in reinforced in numerous ways in Jamaica. I wont claim to know all of them, but the follwing are some that come to mind:

Our native language, which has been shaped by the languages of our African acestors, is still deemed inferior as a means of communication. We have emphasized the innapropriateness of speaking this language, so much so that even those who speak it more fluently than English will proclaim the need to speak properly. There is no material value in speaking Patwa, so we should not speak it. How shortighted we are as a people.

Telling someone, se dem blak laik, still evokes emotions of anger and the will to retalitate. Boggles my mind why this is still so in a country where the overwhelming majority of people are black.

Our emphasis on tourism as an economic indursty. Of course, we don't have many choices when it comes to growing an economy, I am just making an empirical claim here. When I was younger I never realized that everyone in the world wasn't struggling to get by. As I grew older, I recognized that some people had large disposable incomes, and that many of these people came to Jamaica to revel in their superior economic position. They were predominantly white.

We still romaticize light skinned individuals, who are considered to be more attractive. Being "brown" is an attribute, which people note when noting someone's alleged beauty.


A nation cannot be built on the shoulders of nationals who do not have faith in their self worth, and the inherent value of their common histories and potential futures. Skin bleaching is a symptom of larger social defects, which need to be resolved if post-colonial societies must advance in accordance with their potentials.


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