I’m Sammy Sosa and whitening my skin makes me happy

written by Anti-Racist Parent columnist Liz Dwyer; originally published at Los Angelista’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness

sammy_sosa_2Ladies and gentlemen, it’s NOT vitiligo. The once handsome Sammy Sosa has admitted to purposely bleaching his skin.

According to Sosa’s interview with the TV show Primer Impacto, turning into Casper the Friendly Ghost is merely a side effect of his skin moisturizer.

He says, “It’s a bleaching cream that I apply before going to bed and whitens my skin some.”

Funny how the story’s changed. A couple of days ago his camp was claiming Sammy’s appearance was the result of a skin rejuvenation process and too-bright lighting. Now it’s a moisturizer that has skin bleaching as a major side-effect.

“It’s a cream that I have, that I used to soften (my skin), but has bleached me some.”

Some? Is he for real?

“Some” is not the word I’d use to describe how bleached Sammy’s skin is. But clearly, he and I have different standards.

I wouldn’t continue to slather on a moisturizing cream if I discovered it inadvertently lightened my skin. If the moisturizer didn’t explicitly say on the box that it has a skin lightening effect, I’d hire a lawyer to draw up a suit against the manufacturer.

The only reason to not sue is if I bought the cream intending to purposely lighten my skin. And if I was Sammy, why would I purposely lighten my skin? Because I’m acting out my own internalized racism.

If you feel a little uncomfortable when that word “racism” pops up, no worries, Sammy wants us to know, “I’m not a racist. I live my life happily.”

Don’t you feel sooo reassured Sammy’s not behaving in a racist manner simply because he said he’s not racist?

Never mind that in our society lighter skin is presented as being all butterflies and ponies while darker skin is portrayed as hell on wheels. Nuh-uhh, Sammy Sosa hasn’t internalized any of that.

In fact, we 100% believe Sosa would’ve kept applying a moisturizer that made his skin turn darker instead of lighter. As long as it made his face baby bottom soft, right?

I guess we’re supposed to forget that Sammy also ran out and bought himself some straighter hair and colored contacts to go along with his new skin tone. But nope, he has no self-hatred going on whatsoever.

Sosa thinks we’re stupid, doesn’t he? He thinks that we believe our society is so post-racial a dark-skinned man can morph himself into a lighter skinned man with straighter hair and light eyes, and we’ll all think it’s simply about soft skin and living life “happily.”

Even my eight year-old son isn’t buying what Sammy’s selling. My boy took one look at Sosa’s side-by-side pictures and said, “Eww, what’s up with him?”

“Eww” is right. Sammy used to be such a good looking guy but now he’s positively wrecked his looks. “Looks like he lightened his skin,” I said to my son.

“That’s racist,” my son replied. “That’s gross.”

Thank God my boy feels that way. I’m sure there are plenty of people of color out there wondering what the cream is that Sosa used to get his “living-life-happily” lighter skin.

They’ll know the brand soon enough since apparently Sosa says he bought it in Europe and he’s considering becoming a spokesperson because he’s so happy with the results.

Yes, folks, Sammy Sosa likes his happy new light skin so much he wants to help sell it to all the rest of us.

If that’s really true, maybe we’ll see Sammy starring in an ad like this one that got shown in India last year for “White Beauty” — manufactured by good ole Ponds and their parent company Unilever:

I’m sure the makers of “White Beauty” -and the gut-wrenchingly sad commercial for it- say the same thing Sosa does: “I’m not a racist. I live my life happily.”

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About Tami

Tami Winfrey Harris writes about race, feminism, politics and pop culture at the blog What Tami Said. Her work has also appeared online at The Guardian’s Comment is Free, Ms. Magazine blog, Newsweek, Change.org, Huffington Post and Racialicious. She is a graduate of the Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism. She is mom to two awesome stepkids and spends her spare time researching her family history and cultivating a righteous 'fro.
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