The Battle Against Skin Whitening in Black Communities

woman with a bleaching cream on face
Via Pexels
Adé Hennis
November 21, 2023

Loving your body is crucial for Black empowerment. However, the eurocentric history of whiteness has created a false system of racial hierarchy that affects how some of us love our skin today.

It was no coincidence that in the 1920s during the Harlem Renaissance, the “New Negro” was marketed with the message that a near-white complexion resulted in a better life. The facade contributed to our people practicing skin whitening across Harlem, and across the globe.

Colorism spread during the Harlem Renaissance and created a divide in which those with lighter skin were more socially accepted and desired. Black creatives fought and spoke out against emulating eurocentric standards of beauty and used their platforms to challenge colorism and stereotypes.

Today, colorism most heavily affects women. Over half of women report discrimination based on their skin tone, and women with deeper tones experience everything from racial slurs to denial of promotions.

It’s time to disburse from the traditional eurocentric narrative that encourages skin whitening as a way to improve socioeconomic status. Black is beautiful across every shade and in every way.

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