Former black Chicago Cubs baseball player, Sammy Sosa, has caused quite a stir after posing for pictures in London with decidedly white skin. It is official, Sammy Sosa now looks like a white man and the internet cannot handle it. Is it self-hate? Are we all poking our noses into business that is just not ours? Is he the new Michael Jackson-this could be vitiligo, right? There are too many questions flying around and in 2009, he answered some of them.
In an interview with Univision’s Pimer Impacto, Sosa confirmed that he was using skin softening creams every night before bed. He said, “It’s a bleaching cream that I apply before going to bed and whitens my skin some. It’s a cream that I have, that I use to soften (my skin), but has bleached me some. I’m not racist, I live my life happily.”
We pause here and note that Sosa says he is happy. This begs the question, do we have any right to be unhappy about his decision since he bleached his skin and not ours? Does it matter when popular black men choose to be white? Since they are important figures in society, there is a case to be made about how they end up being role models for the black community in general. They are celebrated as community icons but when they decide to be white, what do the younger people learn? Sosa is basically telling young black people that he is too successful to be black and that has a damning effect on the hopeful black kids.
We continue: Sosa also added in the 2009 interview that, “What happened was that I had been using the cream for a long time and that, combined with the bright TV lights, made my face look whiter than it really is. I don’t think I look like Michael Jackson.” Actually now he does look like Michael Jackson. The pictures circulating are nothing short of disturbing and a little creepy. It should also be noted that Sosa’s hair is also straight now so the issue now goes beyond the skin softening cream. This is like Michael Jackson claiming the defence of vitiligo yet he had a new nose and new hair. If these people were truly happy about their choices, why not just own them instead of making up ludicrous stories no one needs to hear.
The issue of pride in black skin is political, social and economic all at the same time. Sosa’s decision while it is entirely his own only helps embolden a racist world in which companies like Dove dare have adverts of black women turning white. Nivea is not to be spared as it also had an advert in which a black woman applies the “Natural Fairness Body Lotion” which the narrator says can “visibly lighten skin”. There are also cases of magazines “whitewashing” black cover girls with Lupita Nyong’o having suffered the same fate in a Vanity Fair shoot. Popular culture is busy subtly feeding insecurities in people of colour and then some people of colour then choose to agree with the reigning narrative and bleach their skin. Whether it makes these people happy or not is besides the question, the bottom-line is it is self-hate. When self-contempt makes you happy, you should realise the racist machinery has done its job.
In similarly shocking news, Martina Big, a white woman you should know, appeared on ITV’s This Morning saying she now identified as black and was going to Africa “to learn to be black”. When challenged by hosts about how she was offending ethnic minorities, Martina said, “I don’t want to fight the black people, I do it for myself. I am really proud that this medicine works well. I can feel in myself that I am changing to a black woman. Now I am a black woman I have to learn…That is the reason why in January I want to go to Africa to learn about the culture and so there is no more misunderstanding.”
She also said she was going under the knife to get her nose to “be like an African nose”. Martina’s idea of becoming black is having curly hair, a wider African nose and butt implants to be curvier.
She had previously appeared on The Maury Show arguing, “I am the proud owner of black skin.”
Martina’s story deserves a full article of its own but the import is skin has been reduced to a wearable people can just trade if they feel inconvenienced or unhappy. But skin is culture, it is history and it is a way of life. There are struggles central to being a black woman that Martina cannot understand and will never experience. Her deciding to “wear black skin” without its burdens is a gross level of insolence to the black people who have a history of denigration and disrespect. Just as well, Sammy Sosa cannot possibly understand what being white is. He should not be fooled into thinking having money and success is all there is to being white. After all, he was caught on camera dabbing. If he wants to be so white, why even bother partake of a cultural phenomenon decidedly black like dabbing? Well, that is just us being petty!