‘Bleaching’, Tattoos and the Jamaican Psyche


I watched a music video on a local station last evening and was a little disturbed that the popular artiste was adorned with chains that are reminiscent of the decadent days of slavery. I kept wondering whether he knows that his forefathers wore those chains – but not for decoration!

Today, I came across a video on YouTube – “Setting the Skin Tone” – uploaded by itafariama7 on 28 Mar 2011 – and (again) I became disturbed. The content represents a real indictment on our culture and questions how far we have come or – perhaps better expressed – questions whether we have moved forward (at all) from our past.

Jamaican men and women (age being no factor) are regularly indulging in the practice of bleaching their skins to become lighter in colour. No – it is not a new phenomenon – but it is a disturbing one; because it questions their comfort level with their own identity.

I do not propose to judge anyone on their choices (at least – not in this matter). But I do believe that it is a worrying practice.

Women do it because (they say) men prefer ‘brownings’. Men apparently do it for the same reasons. There is also the notion that being ‘brown’ will open more doors that are presumably closed to persons of darker shades in skin colour.

Many dancehall artistes are also apparently bleaching; as well as defacing their skins with outrageous tattoos – and, given their popularity and influence, their fans gravitate to these practices.

Aside from the medical risks; I am concerned that our people seem to lack a sense of value in their identity. Beautiful black people are ruining their skins to achieve a notion of acceptability. People are walking around with ‘white’ faces and black ears and necks – and are thinking that NOW they are beautiful.

Yes, I know there is a market for the products, and the merchants are happy.

It also makes for comical banter as one user chides the other on who is bleaching or use to bleach and how it assisted either to get something that they desired.

Yet, I cannot help but ponder on the words of the Rt. Excellent Marcus Garvey (our first national hero) when he said: “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”.

I do not think Marcus would be happy about what is happening today; and neither am I! Are you?

Walk good, ’til next time …

*Photo courtesy of “Setting the Skin Tone” – YouTube video uploaded by itafariama7 on 28 Mar 2011

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About Counselor77

A pretty good listener; occasionally I actually have something worthwhile to say ... it may be on religion, politics, love, public affairs (you name it) ... let's talk - we CAN make a difference.
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