Welcome

Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Ah no every body a rub.

My favourite reggae singer of the moment is Jamaica's Queen Ifrica, whose lyrics are so on track (see previous blog post on child abuse). One of her songs from 2007 that is now getting a lot of airplay here touches on that touchy subject of skin bleaching. See and listen to the video:



Sorry if you cannot understand the Jamaican patois; the images should be clear enough.

I have never looked much onto this subject, but have been aware of the practice ever since I was a boy and saw African women searching out the bleaching creams in a west London market, while hunting for the hair straighteners. Not just women bleach, mind you. In Africa, the practice has taken on huge proportions, especially in large countries such as Nigeria (where a staggering 75+ percent of people are reported to do this), and many believe that marriage chances will be greatly helped by the lighter skin. Don't tell people that if most of them lighten up then nothing will change. It's also a major issue in north America and the Caribbean. Some useful background reading is around on the 'net (see link). Black people have been running to be, or seem, white for years so that's not a new issue and I will leave the sociologists and psychologists or apologists to continue penning on that. We've lived through several eras in the Caribbean where lightness has meant bright future, and fair skin led to success in many social, economic and political affairs. But me na go de today. I'm just sharing the song for the moment and waiting for my guest author to send me an article of women and skin shades.

1 comment:

Caroline said...

The obsession is at least as deeply rooted in Asia. I can not find just a simple skin moisturising cream in the supermarket in Vietnam: all are whitening creams, at least that's what they say they do. So I end up stoking up every time I go back home to Europe and loading my suitcase.
For those of you who have visited this country (and others in Asia) you will notice the extremely sophisticated techniques women have adopted to protect from the sun and remain as white as possible. It's 35 degrees, never mind. Long nylon gloves that look like stockings, hat, mask covering hear nose and neck (the best ones have teddy bears on), hat, sunglasses, socks and closed shoes. Wedding provides sight to witness the most incredible make up I was ever given to see: typical brides wear a thick layer of white "thing" on their face, making them look like porcelain dolls, stiff in the gown, wax museum animated on slow motion. Now that is folklore, about just as fanatic as the Westerners burning their skin away for hours on "island paradise" beaches. Look at what they are building with the oil dollars in Qatar, Dubai, etc... man made paradise islands (more) to come and burn up your skin.
Back to Asia on a more dramatic issue which I reckon is centuries old and has had it's waves of preferences. Currently, the last fashion for rich Cambodians is young Kinh (Vietnamese ethnic group, of Chinese origin) virgins, just across the border. They are preferred for the extreme fairness of their skin.