Sometimes, I think we ought to dedicate Black History Month to reviewing the part about black pride.
I say this because these days, it seems that a lot of us either missed that chapter or just decided to skip it altogether.
That chapter was largely written in the 1960s and early 1970s when brown-skinned, Afro-sporting heroines like Teresa Graves and Pam Grier charmed television and movie audiences, and when artists like James Brown urged us to “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.”
I’m sure when the Godfather of Soul sang that, he was referring to skin color as well as attitude; that he was challenging us to counteract a universe where blackness was something to be either cursed or marginalized, and blondness and whiteness was something to be exalted.
Which brings us to today; to a time in which more black people seem to be using their money or their fame to look whiter, rather than use it to make people appreciate their blackness.
I hate to see that despite their success, they can’t manage to love themselves enough to not drastically lighten their skin, or sharpen their noses, or do other things that, in the end, will wind up making them look more cartoonish than Caucasian.
I wince, for example, for Lil’ Kim. Her brown skin and petite, impish look was appealing, but now, her severely lightened skin and botched plastic surgeries make her barely recognizable.
Then there’s Nicki Minaj, with her bleached blonde hair and a complexion that looks a heck of a lot lighter than her high school graduation photo.
And judging from before and after photos posted on rolling out.com, Trina McGee from “Boy Meets World,” looks like she could now check white on the census form.
Dominican baseball star Sammy Sosa’s complexion has long since faded to white, while Jamaican rapper Vybz Kartel, who looks like a tattooed ghost, says he plans to market his own brand of bleaching products, saying it’s no different than white people tanning.
But tanned white people have never been banned from using bathrooms and water fountains, while black people have been denied access strictly for being black.
Since that’s no longer the case, it seems an exercise in self-hatred for any black person who isn’t correcting a discoloration to want to bleach his or her perfectly nice skin to look more like the white people who denied their forebears that access; that on some level they still view their darkness as an aesthetic flaw.