Colonization exposed Jamaica to a parasite; parasite that continues to feed on the prefrontal cortex of the vulnerable. This colonial ‘bloodsucker’ in colorism has feasted for years on the esteem of some individuals, forcing them to conform to a misconstrued ideology of self-worth. Many persons like Marcus Garvey have stood up to the cause of reshaping and emphasizing the meaning of what it is to be ‘black’ and beautiful.
Never would most expect Spice, minstrel known most notably for her bawdy motifs, to inspire meaningful conversation. I too fell with the majority, dismissing Grace Hamilton’s sexual prowess as nothing more than a show of defiance – an attack on the institution of morality; unchecked juvenile libido. However yesterday, my position shifted drastically from one of disdain to one of overwhelming respect.
The entertainer “broke-the-internet”, following a post made after a self-imposed hiatus. Many stared at their devices in disbelief at the once melanin-rich Dancehall Queen, whose skin had now become dusty.
“This cyah be spice…..a must flour,” exclaimed one Instagram user
“She looking like the flood water in Trinidad,” said another.
Grace Latoya Hamilton had fallen victim to the vestiges of colonialism, and betrayed everyone who had ever thought she was something more – ever thought she’d transcended the bonds of race to dominate an artistic sphere. What a cataclysmic waste! Or at least that’s what I thought until I reminded myself that everything shouldn’t be taken at face value.
So with journalistic tools in hand, and a bone to pick, I searched for answers, and what I found was nothing short of remarkable.
Spice had not in fact bleached her skin. Instead, she slathered her entire body with paint, shades lighter, to elicit a response that proved her thesis – Black people HAVE NOT dismissed feelings of racial inferiority. Instead, we’ve clung to a notion of beauty characterized by lighter skin.
I paused because I hadn’t for a long time remembered that this is the reality of many in the black community.
International readers are often of the misconception that Caribbean sovereignties are void of said issues of identity. Regrettably, this couldn’t be further from the truth. However, here in my homeland (Jamaica), skin bleaching is encouraged, praised even, by social media influencers, one being “Nikki Chromazz”, who interestingly just released a line of skin lighting agents (For reference – Chromazz or Chrome refers to “Light Brown Skin”). She and others have used their position of influence to proffer a narrative which has bred hate for self and hate for others. It is important to note that she is but a symptom of an issue that has existed ever since house slaves and those of mixed lineage were perceived to be “better off” than their darker counterparts who worked in the fields.
Spice has delivered a thunderous blow to the existing status quo, challenging colorism and its premise, while reminding us all as a people, a community, that our fight for identity is far from over.
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Marcus Garvey
A tree, might I add, destined to fall to depths unreachable.
We forget as black people, the insurmountable strength of our ancestor’s, who despite being ripped from their homeland, bludgeoned and stripped of self, mounted insurrections comparable to the conquests of Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan. We’ve neglected to honor our predecessor’s fight.
We claim to accept our “blackness”, however, we keep apologizing for it. Our women flood weave stores, and stock up on perm creams, while our men applaud. Some even opted for mutilation, biding afro-centric nuances farewell.
We pander to the imperial hierarchy, but at what expense?
“Black Hypocrisy”. Will we in a drive for integration forsake self and our brothers, or will we accept the beauty in our complexity? Is that acceptance far-fetched idealism, or is it attainable?
“Mi love the way mi look
Mi love mi pretty black skin
Respect due to mi strong melanin
Proud of mi color, love the skin that I’m in
Bun racism, demolish colorism”– Spice