From Lil’ Kim to Lil’ “Marie”: Skin Bleaching
I apologize for not posting more often. I have the life that I wanted. That life comes with planes rides, train rides and getting to know what hotels eventually treat you like you are at home. In the midst of collecting frequent flyer miles, this blog has been collecting dust. I got home last night and wanted to relax and eventually landed on Facebook. This time, it inspired a post. Thanks for Hycide and Ms. Shantrelle Lewis (for being in my newsfeed at the right time) for the inspiration.
I grew up in Queens, New York and when Lil’ Kim came out I did not know what to make of her. I do remember that I listened to almost all her songs on Hot 97 and I even remember having a few CDs of her. Then, something happened. I grew up and when I needed music to clean, get me AMPED or to run my last few miles, Lil’ Kim might come on.
I was on facebook last night and the folks at Hycide Presented photos of Lil’Kim from 1996 until present. Was I shocked? Yes and No. I do remember what she looked like last year but the visual reminder in these photos made me realize that the skin bleaching and color war are as persistent as ever. This is a photo of Lil’ Kim in 1996. Do you even remember that she used to look like that?
After viewing the amazing photos from Hycide, I began to reflect about Marie. Marie, is a girl that I met in a make shift camp in Haiti in 2010. She became one of my “helpers” and did quite a lot of work and the people in the area really worked with this dynamic young girl. In the morning, I would usually buy coffee for less than ten cents ($0.10US) from a woman close to the camp. During my morning walk over to the camp, Marie would tell me about her life and ask questions about the United States, my hair (at the time I had dreadlocks), and when did I plan on getting married?
During one of our walks, Marie told me that when she gets older, she would be able to bleach her cream and get lighter and how her life would be as a result. Especially, since she had “good hair” , she would be closer to being “grimel” (light skinned or mixed in Haitian Kreyol). I remember asking her what she thought of me. I am a dark skinned woman, who had dreadlocks at the time and was by no means mistaken for anything other than from the African Diaspora. She told me that I was the kindest “Djaspora”(Haitian born in American) that she had met. I asked would I be better off if I bleached my skin? I honestly can not remember what she told me. But, as I viewed this photo transformation of Lil’ Kim and remembered my conversation with Marie, I wanted to show her these photos and ask her if I would be better off if I bleached my skin and transformed myself into something other than what I am?
I know that Marie is still in Haiti and I really do want to go back to the town where she lives. I would want to ask her and see if she has started to bleach her skin? I would want to see where she lives, how many meals she eats in a day and despite her situation, how could she afford skin bleaching? I would want to know despite having a community of dark women around her, what makes “grimel” the goal? Or, where and when do you stop once you start the bleaching? What color or shade is the goal?