Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dem a Bleach! Still?

Blaming the bleacher
by Melville Cooke

Source: The Gleaner
published: Thursday | January 26, 2006

A young man in a skin-tight, long-sleeved white shirt and close-fitting jeans walked the rude boy walk in the opposite direction of the cars filled with people headed to work, school and such the like. His face was shining and many shades lighter than his hands; he looked very pleased with himself.

It was not, of course, the first time I had seen the 'Seaga face and PJ body', as one deejay put it, up close; and it was not the first time that I thought the bleacher is a glowing reflection of ourselves as a whole, whether we like it or not.

We must acknowledge, first of all, that people across all sectors of the society lighten their skins. It is not restricted to the poor ghetto dweller, as the stereotype of toothpaste concoctions would have us believe. The difference is that the skin bleacher who has access to more refined products is able to do it more gradually and evenly, hence less noticeably. Lightening the complexion over four weeks is a shocker; doing so over 12 months is almost unremarkable unless you have not seen the person over that length of time.

We should also realise that there is more than one way to bleach. There is also the reproductive method, in which people refuse to have children with someone whose complexion is as dark as or darker than theirs. They are, in fact, lightening their lineage, bleaching generation next, if you will.

Whatever the process and the eventual skin tone, the bleachers should be aware that there is one particular area of the body which the 'bleach cyaan reach'. Legend has it that the sun does not shine there either.


Still, instead of throwing barbs at the bleachers, we need to ask ourselves why such a high number of black Jamaicans, some dark and others not so dark, dislike themselves so much as to subject their faces to the equivalent of the National Works Agency workmen tearing the surface off the road through the Bog Walk gorge.

We have a tendency to reject and ridicule the most glaring representations of our national psyche and, much as the sexuality expressed in dancehall music is often criticised (yet the Gemini exotic club has expanded to Ocho Rios and Montego Bay), we do not acknowledge that the bleachers are us.

For is it not us whose eyes automatically flick towards the lightest person in the room? For is it not us who rush to pack the bags of the fair of skin at the supermarket? Is it not us whose voices transform when we speak to very light-skinned Jamaicans, in the courts and at the gas stations?

How can we blame the bleacher without blaming the preacher, who selects a hymn which asks 'are your garments spotless/are they white as snow/are you washed in the blood of the lamb?' How can we blame the bleacher without blaming the history teacher who starts the history of black people from slavery?

And how can we blame the bleacher without asking ourselves, and being very honest, would we notice them if their faces were not startlingly light?

Not just see them, but take notice.

It is often preferable to be an oddity than a nonentity.

Source: Daily Gleaner

At one time Bleaching or being The Brownin' was a big phenom within Dancehall culture, is it safe to say the madness has stopped? Or do you still see your one and two people with mix-matched extremities?