Seems that it matters if you’re black or white

Seems that it matters if you’re black or white

Public Relations | Judette Coward-Puglisi

August 19, 2009

…Controversial header  I know,  but so too is this video which looks at  a practice among black women  to lighten the colour of their skin so as to  to appear more attractive. The practice is  very common in Jamaica.


What does this have to do with communication? 


For starters,  I’m looking at the connection between PR, image, and the thinking that still infuses  our  industry that you’ve got to look a particular way to climb the ladder.


I didn’t stumble upon this by guess, my thinking was shaped after a series of conversations I had with communicators about image and the profession. More on that later, but first take a look at the video and then read the interesting comments and perspectives on race, gender and identity (it’s what makes this post compelling) several of them by PR and media professionals. 


Let’s get the conversation started.



11 thoughts on “Seems that it matters if you’re black or white

  1. Yes this is so sad…the mindset amazing….falls right into my ongoing theme ( which one day i will write about)…The Vestiges os Slavery….funnily enough i had posted this video on facebook and only received one comment…glad it struck a cord with you and has been re-posted..lets see if get more comments this time…p

  2. Saw a feature on Tyra Banks show recently, where a mother was bleaching not only her skin, but the skin of her 3 children as well. Mind you, two were under 5 years.

  3. Oh my goodness, first time I am seeing it in JA. I know it is rampant in Africa. When i was in Senegal they said that it was the norm and i met women who were doing it. It is unbelievable how it works though. The woman who was escorting me around, her face was very fair and when she showed me her stomach, very dark, weird. God have mercy on them yes. Sad that they have to think the way they do in this day and age…..

  4. Just crazy, these people need help . I think perception is not always reality . love to see my sisters all natural PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

  5. ust thinking, it’s sad yes but we still live in a world that does not celebrate dark skin. I was happy that Obama’s wife was a dark skinned woman cause I hoped that would instill some pride into those of us with dark skins. Look at Hollywood and the music industry. The successful black people are too often light-skinned which, I think, subtly reinforces the belief that dark skin is not acceptable. As a dark skin person I can tell you all that the discrimination, even in sweet TnT, could be pretty obvious.

  6. I think there are over 100 categories for the meaning of black in Brazil, the lighter you are the more beautiful you’re regarded. I am hoping my friend Lesley (Noel) will weigh in.

    But I agree with Laura.

    The obsession wasn’t just about MJ, he took it to another level but the folks we tend to idolise in pop culture allow us to hate our hips, our hair , our skin.
    That’s why an industry like this can exist, the demand is there.

    Interestingly enough I saw a huge billboard in Chaguanas with a light skinned East Indian woman promising nirvana with the cream. It’s not just a ‘black’ thing.

  7. Judette, living in Jamaica (even only for a year) i see too much of this. The creams sell like fresh bread in downtown Kingston. It’s not just the cream, there are pills too that so-called "uptown" girls take cause it’s a bit more expensive but lightens the skin evenly. God alone knows the side effects of taking those.
    I live with a girl on hall that’s been taking the pills since pre-teen years and her skin colour is a FAR stretch from what it is now. It’s a scourge in Jamaica. The men go crazy over "brown" girls, what trinis would refer to as "red". But it’s not just in the home, the society propogates it through the music (although some of them have stopped in an effort to curb it) and it’s an issue of self hate.
    Walking through halfway tree once, a little girl looked up to my "red" trini girlfriend and said "I’m going to start bleaching soon so I can look pretty like you." Needless to say, we nearly cried and simply told her that we think she’s beautiful just the way she is…

  8. The young girl may be poor but she doesn’t look like a fool at all. She’s taken a calculated decision to risk her health for social advancement based on changing her appearance. Instead of ganging up on her, why don’t we crticise the rich Hollywood actresses who do the same disfigurement in order to land multi-million dollar movie contracts? In a weird twist of irony, rich white women spend thousands of dollars to surgically acquire the features of black women – augementation of buttocks, lips and bust!

    How many women reading this article themselves use all kind of hair-straightening products to emulate a European look? I think that this young girl realises that 170 years after Emancipation is not enough to change the efffects of 300 years of slavery (TWICE THE PERIOD!) and she ain’t gonna change the workd & its attitudes, but is just going to do her best to fit in and survive in the Kingston ghetto.

    I find bleaching abhorrent, but let’s not blame one person for deeply ingrained attitudes and prejudices.

  9. Totally agree with that last comment. The family in this clip not only represents a nationwide problem in Jamaica, but issues of race and skin colour the world over that never went away. Reminds me of the quote "Everytime we take one step forward, we also take two steps back."

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