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Shades Of Identity Crisis
Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2001

From: Renee

(Self-Development Forum) More and more Africans are turning to the illegall use of skin whitening creams. Many think that it is the ticket to upward mobility, socially and professionally - despite the countless health risk involved. Some Africans even believe that, "When you are lighter, people pay more attention to you." (Please read "YELLOW FEVER" AND "THEM A BLEACH" )

Are Africans trying to hang on to something that they can never become, WHITE?

From: Gilbert Browne

Renee, they are not necessarily "...trying to hang on ....." just desperate to get close. This goes hand in hand with an interesting resurgence of that group in T&T called 'RED" people. The nearer one is to white is the more self important one can feel. Certainly access to the better jobs etc are in the offing and in addition one can assume a superiority over the black skinned ones. Parents are known to speak of 'wanting some milk in the coffee' when speaking of a mate for their darker skinned children.

40+ years after so called independence these conditions still largely apply in T&T and elsewhere in the region and is compounded by the latest wave - 'indian time now' - in T&T. The bleaching creams merely constitute the outward manifestations of a capitulation by some. The shade & class segmentation has been ingrained in this society. A RED woman/man would hardly give a darkskinned suitor of lower standing the time of day. Some dark skinned graduates of the UWI talk glibly of marrying 'up'. It used to amuse me living in Canada in the 70's & 80's to see how the same RED people would hook up with dark skinned persons out of sheer need. They no longer had the numbers at their disposal and by and large the whites were not interested.

Let us try to explain and understand what is at the root of our self - contempt. What is responsible for African Americans or West Indian Americans who are hardly the movers and shakers in the Northern situation immediately donning a mantle of superiority when they hit the black 3rd world countries? In such cases residence in a more powerful country often becomes a badge.

Given this urge to feel better about oneself and the sense that better days are never coming - so join them. Since the light skinned ones are making it go that route. Know of a PNM politician, big in the east-west corridor, who keeps his office temp 70 F and lower and rarely goes out into the sun without an umbrella. Thing he knows something about the shade game?

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