“If you’re black, stay back;
if you’re brown, stick around;
if you’re yellow, you’re mellow;
if you’re white, you’re all right.”
55 H+, Fair & White, MAXI Light, African Venus, Ami White Skin, Bio Claire, HQ Gel. If any of the brands listed are familiar to you, then you have probably either seen or dealt with an aspect of the effects of colorism. The idea of colorism was never spoken of in my African house but I saw it early on with my aunt. The funny thing is I never realized it until much later in my life how insecure she was and maybe still is with her skin color. She used skin lightening crèmes–probably tried all of those I listed and more. I remember even using it myself, not really realizing what it was that I was doing, just knowing that it was lotion. She told me it would “even out” my skin. There was even a time she got to light that we used to laugh and call her the Michael Jackson of the family. Her face and neck were light, but I guess the secret to knowing someone is using skin lightening crèmes is their hands. Watching Congolese comedies, it was often pointed out to me who seemed to have been using skin-lightening crèmes because of the discoloration of their overall skin. It was often also stated that when people got money they often got “fancy” and started using skin-lightening crèmes to seem better than others. Besides the physical damages of using products with hydroquinone the psychological effects are harsher in my opinion. At some point, my aunt felt like this needed to spend lot so money to purchase these crèmes to be lighter therefore thinking she was going to feel better about herself. And the crèmes were never enough because she always had to use them—the perceived “issue” with her brown skin never had a permanent solution. At some point, her skin just ended up looking pasty with blotches everywhere. She stopped using them for a while until her skin seemed to go back to normal, but went right back to using them again.