For the last time: POC coveting whiteness is not okay or “just a preference”

written by Love Isn’t Enough editor Tami Winfrey Harris

I am shocked at some of the responses we received to Liz’s post about Sammy Sosa lightening his skin. I read, approved some and deleted many comments that asked “what’s wrong with wanting to be white” or “maybe Sosa  just prefers a more European look.” And I am floored. Perhaps I’m just reacting violently to trolls. The problem is, I sense that a number of respondents were not simply trolling anti-racist sites looking to play devil’s advocate. Some commenters really didn’t get what what so bad about a brown man or woman being willing to go to great (and sometimes harmful) lengths to achieve whiteness. They really didn’t understand why it is not okay to hate who you are if who you are is a person of color. They really were missing how colonization has effected the self-esteem of brown people the world over. There is nothing wrong with being white and having features generally associated with whiteness. There IS something wrong with not understanding that this is equally true for people of other races.

In the new year, we plan to do a roundtable on Eurocentric beauty standards and people of color. In the meantime, here is some food for thought:

CNN’s report on “double-eyelid surgery” was a little breathless and annoying (surprise…surprise), but I think useful in this discussion:

More “Fair and Lovely”…

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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,, 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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