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Okay folks, I am going to go ahead and just ask a question that apparently is on a lot of folks’ minds these days.

And that is this: What’s the deal with this whole skin lightening stuff, especially in Hollywood…? And who is actually responsible for turning the beautiful copper and chocolate brown tones of our leading stars into something less than?

Well a number of folks are asking this question after seeing the cover of Entertainment Weekly that featured a visibly ‘paler-toned’ version of Scandal star Kerry Washington.

Several web writers began pointing out the star’s faded color and suggesting what they felt was behind it. Jessica Wakeman, a contributor for the popular women’s website The Frisky, was one of the first to point it out, saying that the talented actress was “looking a lot lighter-skinned.”

Wakeman went on to reference the recent and similar controversy surrounding soulful songstress India Arie whose cover image from her new single Cocoa Butter showed a lighter version of the ironically-proud singer of the self-affirming tune, Brown Skin.

Arie denied lightening her complexion in any way, saying it was a result of the lighting.

Which actually raises an important issue… Who is ultimately responsible for these faded images? The stars or the editors?

Remember, there are entire departments of employees vested with the task of presenting a cover image to their readers…And yes, lighting commonly pales many a darker complexion in the photo and film industries, though Entertainment Weekly recently denied doing so.

Yet those lighting and production specialists know this.  They know full well when someone appears much lighter than their actual complexion and I have a sneaky suspicion they also feel a lighter African American is a more marketable African American to their majority less-melanated audience.

It also sends a not-so-subliminal message to us as a people, doesn’t it…? One telling us and our children that, to make it big in America, you have to abandon your sense of culture and heritage and become more like the majority race.

And that’s a shame. So we all need to stay vigilante and watch for images and depictions of us that try to hide the beauty of our skin tone, culture and heritage. It’s bad enough we have some African Americans doing these horrible things to themselves; we certainly don’t need someone else doing it to us.

I’ll close with these words that I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times.

“If you don’t love yourself, then no one else will.”

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