Hi Meltingpot Readers,
So, you know I’m working on my next book that will explore the role of colorism in American families. Right now I’m deep into the research, so the majority of my waking hours are spent trying to figure out why so many people of color only see beauty and self-worth in light skin. As you can imagine, it’s a search with no satisfying answer and it is almost impossible not to have a head banging moment at least once a day when I discover something even more ridiculous in terms of the lengths people have gone or will go to erase the pigment from their skin. Like Japanese geishas using nightingale poop in their facials because it reportedly lightens the skin.
And then yesterday, I saw this on the bottom shelf at the grocery store.
Yes, it’s skin lightening soap, but that’s not what made me pause. It’s the fact that the soap is manufactured by the same company that makes African Black Soap. That just seems so wrong, so I did a little digging to find out who owns this nefarious company that promotes itself as traditionally African, yet creates products that would strip Africans of one of their most defining features, their dark skin. I guessed it might be a White-owned company, because they wouldn’t care much about the politics of identity and might be greedy enough to try to sell African pride and Black self-hatred on the same store shelf. Then I realized that skin lighteners are big business all over Africa today, so it could be an African company that simply tries to please all of its customer base. What I didn’t suspect is that Mandina Industrial Corporation, makers of African Black Soap and Skin Lightening Cream, was started by a Bangladeshi media tycoon in Brooklyn, New York.
The things you learn. Do you care who makes your soaps and shampoos? How often do you see skin whiteners on the store shelves? I’m so listening.