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Why Black Celebrities Are Getting Lighter: A Love Letter to Black People

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


  1. JAYNE DOH! on April 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm




    AND I ALSO “I detest every ounce of white blood flowing through my veins.”

    • Terrillwb on April 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      I think this article was about personal appreciate and awareness of your worth. These men and our Queens also, didn’t become preoccupied with their hue as an obstacle to overcome, but more a sign of the royalty and the lineage of a great people, and they succeeded.

      I think love, even when not appreciated and sometimes specifically pointed, has to be respected. Until the next article of spouse choosing. Your point is a valid point, for that article.

  2. JAYNE DOH! on April 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm


  3. Nequa Gay on April 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Although I greatly appreciate this article I do wonder why the author mentioned Sidney Poitier /James Brown /Michael Jordan/ Eddie Murphy/ Wesley Snipes and failed to note any successful African American Women of darker hues (Oprah/ Keisha Pulliam/ Gabrielle Union/ Cicely Tyson/ Lauryn Hill etc). It is the African American Woman, esp. those of the darker hue, who is most greatly effected by this tragedy of hate for themselves (as mentioned Lil Kim/ Taraji/ Beyonce (an already fair skinned woman) – and the media and our men have done little to reaffirm us that light is not right. This inability to embrace who God has made you to be, to constantly alter and correct what He has made perfect is indeed for the simpletons and not for the intelligent, healthy mind of a once beautiful people. We have got to come back to ourselves as this foolishness is absolutely ridiculous. Why on earth don’t we know by now that this division, this race game is a “project” some BS made up for the masses to be trapped into when more important ish is going on around us? As Jayne Doh mentioned we will indeed be extinct…something only read in books by lil blonde haired blued eyed clone babies in the near future smh…

  4. Unique D on April 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Your error is including Michael Jackson, (rest his soul), in your article who was known to have vitiligo! By including him, it reflects your ignorance of one having the disease called ‘VITILIGO’. Vitiligo has various stages and attacks mostly people of color!

    • Jmdollface on April 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      Your right! Ppl r always quick to say Michael Jackson wanted to be white, but do your research people!! Vitiligo is a very serious skin condition that has no cure! I have it myself! People seem to think that it is a made up disease and are quick to make ignorant comments. The things people take for granted.

    • Cmiller_holmes on April 28, 2011 at 1:22 am

      For those of you who are unaware Vitiligo causes you to lose all of the pigmentation (color) in your skin. Michale Jackson’s error was in him trying to hide that he had the disease by possibly speeding up the uncurable loss of pigmentation. People who have vitiligo have no pigmentation, they are not just lighter.

  5. Anonymous on April 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Say it Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud. By the way, you’re not fooling anyone with your lightened skin color. Your’e still black to us all. Be proud of yourself and what beauty and admiration black people have brought to the world. See how we are emulated positively. Stop tearing yourself down. Let your light shine.

    • Dgwatkins79 on May 3, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      If they feel a way about Obama just think if it was a dark skinned president. And no, Obama isnt the first black president. There was 6 before him but because there wasnt any pictures or tv to show we just learned this info as of lately. Thanks to the internet. These issues are still prevelent in our society today. If light, u alright. If black, step back. Learned that from my father. RIP. U can see that in majority of the models in magazines and tv. Sorry guys.

  6. TrueLove Match on August 11, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Wesley Snipes is still number one. More Love letters for black singles.