A 2013 WHO report stated that 77% of women in Nigeria use skin-bleaching products, a figure scaling the highest in the world. Togo was 59% while Senegal was 27%. In a survey on skin bleaching by NOI, 64% Nigerians admitted that the rate of skin bleaching is high among females while 83% are aware of its health risks. So why do they do it? I think I know why – they are “hooked” on it – the same way a drug addict knows what he takes can fry his brain cells, yet he can’t live without it. This is why a 60 second TV commercial warning skin bleachers about skin cancer or kidney damage doesn’t fly. Its no more about gender since guys now compete in the bleaching business. Its an issue of the mind.
Skin bleaching is not really about “being attractive to the opposite sex.” That’s a delusional fantasy, its more of an attempt of black people to switch their race! Now this is silly, to put it mildly, because our skin colour is in our genes and no amount of skin-whitening cream can remove it. Its not important to waste time and space stepping into the bleaching vs toning debates. The bottom line is this: many black guys and ladies have low self-esteem issues. We believe we are somewhat inferior to caucasians because of our colour. That’s why many African ladies are trying to have a blonde hair, wear blue contact lenses and trying to talk through their noses like a white woman at the expense of their physical, mental and emotional well being.
This issue stems from the way we have been conditioned for so many years. Our ancestors viewed the white man as gods on earth and intellectual superiors. That simplistic idea is still with us. Its a picture that was etched into our minds and was passed down to us. We saw ourselves as drum-beating, banana-peeling, tree-living bunch of apes, next to the glorious skin of the white race.
Many Africans still believe there is something “magical” about being a caucasian white skin. So they fondly dream of having a white skin in order to fit into ‘the race of the gods.’ That’s why an implicit assumption of “superiority” is confused with peeling off layers of one’s skin.
Some religions too have not helped matters. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints (Mormon church) believed that white people came from angels who sided with Jesus during the heavenly war against Lucifer while the black race came from the angels that were neutral in this war (translation: the lazy angels). Until the late 1970s, black people were forbidden from their priesthood because they believed that the black skin was “a curse.”
Hindus also believe that the black skin is a reward of bad karma in one’s past life, while the white skin is a reward for good karma. Thus, they have a caste system in which the Brahmins who have the fairest skin are at the top of the food chain while the Dalits (or “the untouchables”) are at the lowest rung of the ladder. Perhaps, this explains why a high percentage of Indian Hindus respect whites more than blacks. In fact, Asians desire having white skins. A survey shows that 4 out of 10 of Asian women heavily use skin-whitening creams.
There are also psychological factors responsible. This anomaly can be traced to aftermaths of skin colour discrimination in a place. This is why African-Americans keep fighting to establish a separate identity. They have black churches, black designer wears, black TV, pro-black Bibles and black Jesus paintings. Its a post-traumatic defense mechanism of coping with unacceptance. The same goes for South Africa which has experienced racial apartheid.
The way out is for us to cultivate self-acceptance and self-discovery. God in His wisdom had a reason for making us dark-skinned rather than being white-skinned, therefore, its our responsibility to love and accept ourselves just as God has accepted and us. You will notice that the Bible doesn’t go into details about people’s looks or colour. It didn’t tell us what Abraham, Mary or Jesus really looked like. Why? Because God is more interested in who we are on the inside than about the colour of our skin.
One secret of personal happiness is for one to quit trying to be like someone else. Work on your inner self and use your talents positively and the world will celebrate you regardless of your colour or frailties. In 2014, I read about the first Nigerian lady to graduate with a first class degree from the University of Reading. Once we allow Christ to remove the fog of hate and self-rejection from our hearts, we will realise that there are many people who love us just as we are. There’s nothing wrong with being black. Anyone who thinks otherwise should take 3 seats to the left. We’re black, we’re brilliant and we’re not inferior!