We watched in amazement, befuddlement and then horror as all-time icon Michael Jackson transformed incrementally from a brown-skinned preteen superstar to an alabaster-toned freak show.

As disgusted as we said we were, I always maintained that our self-hatred is so firmly entrenched that if more blacks had Michael Jackson money and access, more of us would have done something similar. (Lil Kim and Sammy Sosa never had MJ resources, but look at what they’ve done.)

This age-old dilemma refuses to go away. “Look at them, laying out in the sun, trying to get to look like you,” Malcolm X told a throng of blacks in 1960, some 50 years ago. “They’re using [a popular suntan lotion back then] to get to look like you. And yet you are busy hating yourself.” He would later bark in disgust: “I detest every ounce of white blood flowing through my veins.” Conversely, most of us think we are more privileged the more whiteness that resides in our DNA.

Snooki of “Jersey Shore,” whose lineage has be traced to southern Italy or Sicily, is so bronze that she could almost be mistaken for a light-skinned black. Same goes from Kim Kardashian. As we attempt to lighten our skin in order to be more attractive to white Americans, many of them are, in turn, spending billions every year in an attempt to darken their skins through salons, lotions, beach trips, etc.

We forget that Sidney Poitier was as black as midnight when he won an Oscar half a century ago. James Brown was the “Godfather of Soul.” Michael Jordan, a very dark-hued brother, was once the most bankable celebrity in entertainment and sports history, by far. Eddie Murphy was once the king of comedy and Tinseltown. And Wesley Snipes was arguably the biggest Hollywood star in the mid-1990s. They radiated unapologetic self-confidence and self-love. Why won’t the rest revel in their blackness?

If we truly believe in God, then we must also know that He is perfect and that none of His creations were ever a mistake. Each mahogany-hued or ebony-hued black is God’s individual masterpiece, as perfect a creation as any human being ever constructed. So, celebrate the perfection that you are and know that He has an important purpose for your life.

Problem is, and has always been, that too many seek confirmation of their beauty and humanity through a criteria established by discriminating humans and people who don’t like them and mistreat them. And if they waste their time clawing and reaching futilely for that fleeting confirmation, they will always be miserable. And they will deserve to be. –terry shropshire

Leave a comment