At 8am today, Kim and I were on the morning show of Baraka FM, popular coast radio station. We were having a great time, joking with the presenter, the DJ, the guy who does the commercial spots for their sponsors - Everready batteries and Celtel.
We'd just finished listening to a really cool Arabic track, and they went into another commercial pitch. This one for Fair and Lovely skin lightening lotion. We both listened, jaws dropped, as the presenter extolled F and L's melanin-inhibiting qualities, the "even skin tone" it imparted, enriched with vitamins A, B1, B2, and D.
When he was done, and the next track went on, I was like:Why the fuck are you pushing skin-lighteners on Kenyan women? Do you have any IDEA how poisonous those things are? How evil the whole concept is?
He went into a defensive spiel about how it was business, he didn't pick the sponsors, and anyway, all women used body lotion, this wasn't really bleach, it had a herbal ingredient....... the other guys all chiming in to add their layers of rationalization. But they knew. And I knew that he's right; they don't control the sponsorship. But what killed me was how they've made it OK with themselves - refuse to deal with the reality of what they're putting out on air. Or with their acceptance of the hideous equation of beauty with light skin in an African country.
We all do it - me no less than anyone else. Look away from the truth of our commercial decisions. Refuse to take on our complicity. I've been dealing with that right through this tour - from where we stay, to where we perform, to who gets to see it, to who gets paid what to make Migritude happen.