The Color of Your Skin

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

There is a group of Africans who do not think they are as good as the Whites. This self-demeaning and self-denigrating attitude shows in how they relate to the White man. You see, most Africans are usually beside themselves around the White man. No matter how highly placed some Africans are, they bow and fret at all times. They do their best to please. They curry favor and approval, and go out of their way to demonstrate their loyalty and gratitude. Africans are at all times at the service of the Whites; as a result, whatever the White man wants, the White man gets. You rarely can find Africans on equal footing with Whites.

And even when the White man is of a lower economic, educational, and social status, the Black man would, in most cases, still revere and honor the White man. The next time you are the Murtala Mohammed Airport, observe how lowly expatriates are treated and observe also how Nigerian professionals are approached and talked to: one gets deference; the other is harassed. Or you could just watch how the Americans, Germans, British and French nationals are treated at numerous checkpoints: there is fawning and flattery for the Whites; while the Blacks, their fellow Nigerians, are berated and hassled and hurried.

In Lagos, Kinshasa, Malabo and Accra for instance, a White man could walk into a police station or any government establishment and be done with his errands in less than 30-minutes, while the same errand –assuming it is done at all — would take the African almost 2 hours to accomplish. In Lagos and cities across Africa, have you noticed how traders, bankers, students, government officials and virtually everyone else relate to the Whites? The Whites are worshipped; the relationship is that of a servant-master relationship.

The Lebanese, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi, Pilipino, Chinese and others are also now in the superiority game. In fact, the Lebanese and the Indians have been in the game a very long time. They run their own socio-economic and political empires in Africa — oppressing Africans. And indeed, it is sad, very sad and heart breaking to observe the way the Indians and the Lebanese treat Nigerians in Nigeria. People who are generally a “nobody” in their own countries acts like kings and queens in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa. You have nobody but the Africans themselves to blame since Africans will bow to anybody with yellow, white, green or pink skin. Anything but black skin is God sent!

And if you think the White man is lording it over Africans, well, the situation is even more telling when it comes to White women. The Black man will obey if asked to pee in his pants before a White woman. They will bow, prostrate and go the extra miles just to satisfy the whims and wishes of White women. If a White woman wants to make a government official go nuts, all she need do is expose the top or the corner of her breast or wink and smile. The promise or possibility of intimacy will make such official divulge government secrets or agree to detrimental contract terms. The African may stammer and offer vain resistance before Oga, but not before madam. Madam has money, power, and much more.

Here is another dimension to the skin-game: even amongst Africans themselves, they go gaga over and around a light-skinned person — especially a light skin woman. There are African men and women who will not give a dark-skinned suitor a romantic chance. You see, the lighter the skin, the more intense the desire and lust and obedience on the part of some.How many men do you suppose have lost their limbs and paycheck and dignity over a light-skin African? Knowing the Black man have it for light skin women, some dark-skin women have resorted to bleaching their skins.

In a way, skin bleaching is a catch-up game, a game that allows bleachers to play on an equal footing with the light-skinned women. Light and lighter skin, in the worldview of some, is a passport to better living. It gives access and thorough fare.

Considering all that ills Africa, the desire for light skin is so superficial and absurd that it is absurd contemplating it; but that is the reality of life in a continent where the majority of the people are uneducated or poorly educated, and where the vast majority of the people suffer from inferiority complex. As sad as this may sound, the debate is not limited to Africa. In fact, the desire for light and lighter skin permeates the Black community the world over.

For instance, in cities like New Orleans, Atlanta and Washington DC, the debate and preference for light skin African-Americans are alive and going strong. Some have argued that the mixed-race is at the top of the pecking order, followed by the light skin. The brownbag test was in vogue for decades, and it continues to be a yardstick in some African-American communities.

It is not a secret that some employers and bosses favor light skin applicants and employees over the dark-skinned. The same is true of the music and movie industry where light-skin African-Americans are favored (most of the time) over their dark-skin counterparts.

The majority of African-American TV and Cable personalities are also light skinned. The lighter you are the more beautiful and intelligent people perceive you to be. The next time you are at it, take note of the ratio of dark versus light skin dancers and actors in the MTV music videos. And by the way, how many successful African-American actors, musicians, artists, professional sports men and academicians are dating or married to dark-skin African-American women? To be Black and black is, in some instances, a severe disadvantage.

Going one step further, how many times have one heard Black men say “White women are better in bed…they are easier to work with…have the least drama…are obedient and cooperative…” More often than not, their preference is a White woman; absent that, a mixed-race or light skin woman. Most would not veer far from the white skin. And how many times have one heard White men say Black men “are brutes and savages…needs to be tamed and trained…needs constant support and direction…” They think of black and Blacks as belonging to the same camp. All the while, or at least most of the times, they think of the mixed-race or the light skinned as “better” — close to their own image or their idealized version of good and beautiful.

From the African continent to North America through Europe, the desire for, and rejection of black and Blacks is ongoing.

Why would a self-loving and self-respecting people be less desiring of their kind? Why would a man or woman who is as black as the darkest berry — in prospecting for a partner — willfully exclude a dark-skin person? Why? Nevertheless, it happens every time. And in fact, it is not uncommon to hear some Africans say ungodly things about very dark Africans.

If we look down on others because they are darker than we are, we look down on ourselves. If we reject others because their skin tone is different from ours, we reject our own essence. If we bleach ones skin just because we want to meet other people’s idealized and fancy version of us, then we make ourselves less Africans and less human. If you reject your own, if you reject your type, why should the outsiders accept and respect you? To be respected, you must respect yourself. Black is black whether you are light, brown or as black as the darkest berry.

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anon July 5, 2008 - 6:19 pm

Africans need to think critically. When someone says their race or country is inferior they need to examine if its really true. Wealth is not an indicator of IQ or success. Nor are inventions. Nor is peace and good governance. The basic indicator of success is self-belief and willingness to stand together as one nation (or race) and work hard. Also africans need to pledge to stop violent reactions even to violence against them or their country (like gandhi did). There will be always africans who criticize the faults of africans as a race and try to show that “it is their inherent nature o to be lazy/loud/poor/violent/racist/less interested in studies” but these people are in two categories. The first category is traitors, of those who are getting rewarded by being a part of exploitative organizations which encourage them to keep on harping such statements (or are penalized when they speak what they feel). They claim to be african and associated with africa but behave totally against its interests. The second is those of the truly disillusioned who need cheering up and lack self-confidence about their race and their country. They have faced failure and have become embittered and when they were rewarded immensely on leaving the country or joining a foreign organization.. they have given up and will persuade others to toe their line of thinking. Both these categories of people dont do any good. Africa needs a third category, those who believe in themselves and act in the interests of Africans and Africa. Know that the world is competitive, nobody helps anybody else without gain, and also think critically.

Michael Fadulu January 23, 2007 - 4:00 pm

Nice write-up. Unfortunately we Africans are still taking "knives and cutlasses to gun-fights" in everything we do. Remember the inoculations given to us back in high school days? Why the fk did our parents not question them? The key is to believe in ourselves and question the claim to superiority by the so called superior race. We are all created equal if we would only believe it!

SMJ December 21, 2006 - 2:53 am

I have always loved and enjoyed reading all your articles. Good job Sab!


Virginia, USA

Sakley December 20, 2006 - 9:07 am

Fine article Sabella–

Our inferiority complex is the primary reason why our nations remain underdeveloped. How can a people develop a culture, a language, promote a complexion and an environment they are so ashamed of?

In Ghana our highly intellectual president, Kuffour flew all over the world–still flying—cap in hand begging for "strategic investment." Meanwhile,schools were crumbling, hospitals are in dire straits. More doctors than nurses in Ghana? The problem with Ghana is that we are major ars-kissers.We were the first African nation to sign up for IMF aid and now all the other Africans are wallowing in debt.Ghanaians are quick to stop eating with their hands in the presence of a foreigner be he from Madagascar or another 3rd world. Oh if he is lighter skinned that is…

It is only a handful, maybe even a couple of African nations who have made a local language official.I dont know if you have come across many Keyans and people from East Africa to be precise.

Man, their sense of self worth is pityful!Especially our kenyans brothers and siters. I am not picking on them…I have observed it over the years…But that is because they have more Eoropeans living there…They are told that their very existence is wrong…..Everything we are is wrong…

Somebody made an interesting observation regarding China and India in terms of development.He said China is developing faster because they do not have to grapple with a colonised mind…Indians do…They speak Chinese/Mandarin….Indians go out of their way like Africans to perfect the English……Europeans entrenched a caste systenm in India….So they look down upon the darker ones….China, not so certain.

Even when it comes to marriage, we Africans have put aside our traditional marriges and opted to wear WHITE–ahem….on our wedding day. In Ghana our wonderful customary marriage has been bumped down to "engagement." Most pastors do not recognize the customary marriage unless it is followed by the long wedding gown thing.

I could go on and on Sabella. I have an exam tomorrow. Good observation. Goodbye.

Aminu wouba December 20, 2006 - 12:24 am

I don't believe, Sabella,you wrote this without ever mentioning colonialism and/or slavery and their after effects on our mentality.people like Bantu BIKO in South Africa tried desperately to decolonize the mind of the African and that's why he was killed.I need not go into what happened to us during slavery and colonialism.Every African should know that and use it as a base upon which they interact with the rest of the world.I respect the Southern Sudanese and the Darfurians because in essence they are fighting against this problem of the color line.But we cannot continue to blame slavery and colonialism for our stupidity.We must realize the trick the white adventurers played on us and act accordingly to balance that out.

Asuquo Ema December 19, 2006 - 6:26 pm


Very good article and well written. As this proverb says "The truth is a bitter pill to swallow" and you have spoken the exact truth just as it is.

Unfortunately we black people have an "inferiority complex" towards other races especially the light skinned races mostly whites. We have been made to believe that any dark skinned person is ugly-anyone that doesn't have straight hair or a skin tone that is light in complexion. We have adopted the european standards of beauty and placed it on ourselves and as a result women have resorted to wearing hair weaves and bleaching their skin.

I observed this myself when I was in Nigeria a few months ago of how our people give white foreign expatriates preferencial treatments but at the same time no regard for their fellow black citizens.

I will never be able to understand why a dark skinned black man can't see the beauty in a fellow dark skinned woman. I have heard people make comments like " I can't marry a dark skinned woman because she is so black"

You will hardly hear a white man say "I can't date or marry a light skinned woman because she is so white or pale". The universal perception of beauty has always being the european model. We see it everyday in the magazines and we are bombarded with such images everyday all over the world. It isn't surprising to go to shops in Africa and see these images everywhere-talk about brainwashing!!!

Sometimes I think we black people are the greatest hyprocrites. We say "black is beautiful" but in practice we act otherwise.

I also observed that Nigerians back home are very ignorant when it comes to color. Anything that is a skin tone away from the dark complexion is regarded as "oyinbo". Someone once referred to me as a "Blackie" in my hometown of Uyo because of my dark complexion but the funny thing about this was that same person wasn't much different from me in skin complexion.

Coming to America has really taught me a lot about "Color" and the hidden "racism" that is prevalent among we blacks. A person that is regarded as "Colored" in south africa will be regarded as "Black" here in the United States where one drop of black blood automatically implies that you are black regardless of how "white looking" you look. That same person will be regarded as a "half caste" in Nigeria where it is a sort of social status. In Brazil,Namibia or in the carribean that same person will be regarded as a "mulatoo" which is a term that is no longer politically correct. The point I am trying to make is that skin color is looked upon differently in many parts of the world.

If you can't see the beauty within yourself but instead look up to another human being whom you regard as the accepted standard of beauty then no one else will see the beauty in you. It has to start from within. As the saying goes "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". If you are going to judge someone based solely on their skin color it shows how shallow you are.

Once again good article.

Da Dude December 19, 2006 - 11:59 am

Using an old-school teminology, Abidde, u blew the roof off the sucka by telling it like it is

bennie December 19, 2006 - 9:31 am

Amen, Sabella! Ain't that the gospel truth!! Do I dare say "Let he without sin cast the first"?

Abdul December 19, 2006 - 7:38 am

And it's not only in Afrika bro (although I'm sad to hear that it's that bad). This has been a problem for a long time in the States as well (and other places). The Colonial Inferiority "mindset" has been placed upon peoples of color all around the world. And unfortunately at the end of the day "black" equals bad; while "white" equals good ("I'm dreaming of a "White" xmas"; yeah, right! HA!). I no longer live in the states (thank god) and my new home is much better (especially in terms of racial injustice), but what is really disturbing is seeing non-whites whom embrace this Superiority Complex and implement it on their own kind. I mean when you think of these terms; gook, spook, spick, kaffir, raghead, nigger, etc there can only be one conclusion as to these words origin. A white man. Do you think a black man who had a bad business deal with a Chinese guy would automatically digress to calling him a racially hostile terms? Plz, we'd be like "Damn, dude got me that time. Have to be smarter next time." At worse he'd be called a generic term like "bastard" or "azzhole". Thusly, all of us spooks, gooks, spicks, kaffir's, ragheads, and niggers need to make it our job to de-program ourselves of that mindset (especially considering how most folks with color in their skins come from cultures which were "communal" based, extremely compassionate, and generous; opposed to grabbing everything one can get their hands on and hording it over the less fortunate).


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