Fade to White

Skin Bleaching and the Rejection of Blackness

If the bleachers don't get why they should quit, any cabby can explain the horror he's seen. "Maybe you have some cut and you need some stitches," says driver Joseph Akrofi. "Normally the black body which is bleached comes off. So they can't do stitches." He says this slowly as if waiting for a reaction.

Black and Proud

The nonprofit Ghana Skin Foundation aims to educate people about the dangers of skin bleaching and eradicate the problem altogether. "The African woman must awaken to the fact that the color black is not an accident," First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings told the public, "but is purposely to enable her to adapt comfortably to the climate and environment in which she is created."

That message has begun to take root. Kofi, a proud young African from Accra, has a motto used by many Ghanaians who oppose skin bleaching: "If you're nice, you're nice. You can be a black, you can be a green." Although the Ghanaian government hasn't taken the steps that the Gambia and Nigeria have in trying to rid the country of harmful hydroquinone products, Ghanaians do believe their country's self-perception needs a boost. The activists are unclear, though, about how to make people love themselves. They want people to see that diversity is God's gift.

"You are not the one who created yourself, it's God who created you," Kofi says. "God knows who you are—that's why he created you a black or a white."

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