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, 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.

And the self-loathing continues.

It continues in the lyrics of rappers like Lil’ Wayne, who in one of his songs rhymes “beautiful black woman, I bet that b*tch look better red.”

Worse, a dark-skinned fan claimed on Bossip that when she asked him about using that lyric when his daughter is brown-skinned, he said that his daughter was a dark-skinned millionaire, and that made all the difference.

So what Lil’ Wayne is saying is that being rich will enable his daughter to survive the defect of being dark.

What a horrible lesson to teach a child.

You also have magazines that can’t manage to feature Beyonce, or Rihanna, or Halle Berry on the cover without making them look several shades lighter.

And you see it in the black youths and children who are exposed more to rappers and celebrity culture than they are to black history.

I’ve encountered black children calling each other black as an insult – something that should have stopped ages ago – which means between the insults, the magazine covers and the Lil’ Waynes – a lot of dark-skinned children may grow up hating themselves.

So maybe a good part of black history ought to deal with black pride. Maybe we should revive that James Brown song so that skin bleaching doesn’t pick up speed as a trend, and that dark-skinned black people don’t lose sight of the fact that their color is something to be celebrated, not shunned.

It’s sad that the bleaching celebrities probably won’t learn from this as well – especially since they have the power to use their fame and money to revel in their blackness instead of trying to escape it.

And wind up encouraging other black people to do the same.

Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her @tonyaajw. Or like her on Facebook at


20 thoughts on “Black Pride Means Being Black, Not Bleached

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  3. KSmith on said:

    It is sad when people like Lil Wayne who has so much influence on our young black children uses it to lead them to destruction. Not only him but any rap artist who spew the kind of lyrics of hatred, killing, glorifying thug life and the disrespect of black women is such a disgrace. It took Jay-Z to have a baby girl to stop using the word bitch but he had a mother and a wife before her. It was okay to call them one? The Willie Lynch letter how to make a slave for life is so true of us as a people and we continue to be slaves. Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups don’t have to worry about us. We are too busy killing each other.

  4. Here is my problem with this type of topic. There are many ways to have “self hating” in being black. We get so upet with people like Lil KIm who are accused of bleaching and trying to be white when we have blacks KILLING blacks by the minute more than any other racial group over stupid things. We have blacks who do NOT want to marry blacks even though they are not changing their skin tone but those blacks do not want to marry blacks. We have blacks who do not want to do business with blacks because they believe blacks do not do a good job; on other hand, we have blacks who are great in business YET some blacks want to come in those black businesses and get a hand out YET they will go to white business and pay the same price with no questions ask. We weave our hair with NON BLACK hair and wear their hair STRAIGHT and get our nails done by NON blacks. We, as a black race as a whole, look down on AFRICA and what AFRICANS look like and call “tight curl hair “nappy”-which slave masters named it “nappy”. So, if blacks want to be taken serious about “self hate” , blacks need to have self pride in EVERYTHING and NOT just cherry pick what determines who suffers from self hate base on skin tone. Otherwise, many blacks sound like hypocrites. Do not hate on someone who lighten thier skin yet be ok with wearing straight hair which is NOT a black feature either (I do not care if one thing is permanent or not. blacks are still doing something that is viewed as NON BLACK). I bet you Latoya Jackson have more self pride for being black than Wesley Snipes.

  5. Micheal on said:

    When they get money, they get stupid! These are the people, our very own race, I wouldn’t dare spend a dime on these fools music or performance!

  6. I love being black!!! Light skin black that is….I don’t get it with us…From Michael Jackson to today, I don’t get the bleaching my skin thing…I don’t want to look like the people who don’t like me but want my color, hair, lips, and men…..Won’t even pay me a decent salary….

    • Leave MJ name out of this. MJ was PROVEN to have a skin disorder. SOme blacks need to get an education and learn things before they speak.

      • MJ – Yeah right – i read much about his so call skin condition – PLEASE – just like he claim that his kids – were of his creation.. – YEAH RIGHT!!

      • msyellarose on said:

        Okay, we get that Michael had a skin disorder. I have seen vitiligo many times, but that’s no excuse for hacking up his face until he was no longer recognizable.

  7. Tonya, while we’re reviving songs such as James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”, I would also recommend “Black Pearl” by Sonny Charles & the Checkmates LTD, “Garvey” by Jamaican artist Mutabaruka and Blackenized by Hank Ballard especially with lyrics like “so called brothers tellin’ lies, you colored people are just signifying………you don’t have to be like an Oreo cookie brother, black on the outside and white on the inside.” Although given their looks Nick Minaj and Lil’ Kim are opting for that other cookie. No, not Fig Newtons, Bart Simpson’s ” nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfingers.”

  8. MsBrandi on said:

    I’m so disgusted with African Americans who believe that it is beneficial to have light skin. I’m convinced that Lil Wayne is just hopelessly ignorant. It’s unfortunate that we, as black people, can’t shake this slave mentality and appreciate the hues of own natural skin. Whether we are light or dark, we need to learn to love ourselves and respect one another beyond the tones of our skin.

  9. Soule Elizee on said:

    It’s shameful that our brothers and sisters are disfiguring themselves. It’s the lack of self love and they believe that money will make them more tolerable. Education is power and after the sacrifices made for us, we are now becoming a race of Dumb and Dumber all over the planet. Travelling to Senegal I was shocked and saddened that the whitening trend is taking hold in the motherland. Try watching a Nollywood(Nigerian) movie! The only lasting lesson that we have learned from slavery and racism is self hatred. It is worse than the AIDS epidemic. As for parents, take your parental role seriously and do not allow these celebrities become the primary role models in your children lives. Education is Power. Take the kids to the libraries, museums and expose them to the positive black trailblazers and venues that showcase us as productive and concerned members of this planet. Yes we really have to have this dialog again. It is truly lost in translation.

  10. Lil-kim looks terrible she use to be so cute, and I loved the way she rapped, but now she looks like a lion. Micheal Jackson, self hating. soon I hope jennifer hudson don’t start doing that. she looks to thin
    look at Latoya jackson. Tamar Braxton, is blonde and looks like a white woman, I didn’t even know who she was. its really sad how we have got caught up in this culture. and it looks terrible to our Black children they hate there noses, there full lips. but why? james brown made us so proud when he sung that song, I’m black and I’m proud. that was KEY right there, he was trying to tell us to Not be ashamed of our full lips and our large noses. and our hair and the color of our skin. I loved that song it made me proud and happy to know that we where special. and everybody wanted to be like us because we are the baddest Race on this Earth. We just Don’t know it yet.

  11. No one does a better job of hating us then we do ourselves. It’s sad when you hear young children making a diffrence in other children because of the color of their skin. Some black people are so messed up in the head about color and having black features. The self hatred will continue because they pass the same self hatred on to their children. It’s really sad. I agee with you on Lil Kim. She was attractive but now she looks more like Joan Rivers or the Cat Lady in New York. Lil Kim is not going to age well at all because of all the surgery.

  12. good subject to talk about we need someone to start the conversation,, why do celebs, wanna be white, and then white’s wanna act black and talk black and cannot stand to live or stand next to us,
    what is happening in our country, we have never wanted to be white before. light skinned is not good enough anymore I mean we really need to get this conversation going, or is it a self-hate thing going on again. WOW how we have changed.

    • Being “black” is not a skin color. Folks have mental issues which manifest is varying ways. To single this particular ill as being anti-black is ridiculous. Is living in a generational cycle of poverty anti-black? Why not? Would anorexia be anti-black? Why not? Is being an alcoholic anti-black? Is a lack of a savings account or 401K anti-black? Why not? What ever your ill… is it anti-black? Why not? What IS anti-black… is determining that your ill is somehow a more acceptably “black”, than another’s ill. Now, this is what white folks have historically done…. winked at their own ills, while at the same time condemning ours.

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