Evil Enlightenment 121


You were not expecting my thoughts on Michael Jackson and Beyonce Knowles.

This blog is effectively closed down during the period of yuletide festivity, during most of which I am happy to say the world gets subsumed in a warm glow of family, friends, goodwill and alcohol. The gears are grinding behind the surface and I have some explosive stuff on Adam Werritty for the New Year. But today I have escaped from the eight adults and five children watching Beyonce in the sitting room to pen some of the thoughts that it just aroused in me (actually most of the thoughts Beyonce arouses in me are best not written down, but that is another story).

For me the most interesting thing about the sorry Michael Jackson death trial was when Dr Conrad Murray announced that he had cleared out some “embarassing” creams from Jackson’s bedroom before the arrival of police. At first this sounded like it might relate to medication causing Jackson’s death; then it sounded like it might relate to Jackson’s sex life – anal lubricant? Then finally the information came out – they were skin lightening creams.

Which is what connects to Beyonce Knowles, who is beyond doubt many degrees lighter than she used to be, a fact which seems largely to escape comment. I know people in Ghana and in Nigeria who have really disfiguring marks – most commonly a series of ruched lines of skin on the body something like stretch marks – which will be with them for life, as a result of using skin lightening creams. In West Africa mercury is frequently a component.

One of my first rows with my employers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office happened in 1986 when I held the lowly position of Second Secretary (Commercial) in the British High Commission in Lagos. The sale of such creams in the UK had been very recently outlawed due to EU regulation, but it was at that time still legal to manufacture in the UK poisonous skin lightening products – including those containing mercury – for export outside the EU. I ejected from my office with little ceremony a gentleman from Birmingham wanting help from the High Commission in Lagos with his sales of mercury soaps. I recall having no sympathy at all from FCO colleagues over my stand. Why it took me twenty more years to realise I was in the wrong organisation is a tribute to my stupidity.

The pressure on black people to be as deracialised as Beyonce or Michael Jackson is a kind of racially aggravated version of the standards of physical appearance foisted on us every day by the advertising industry. It is the same process, operating in a different way, that gives us identikit politicians like Cameron, Osborne, Clegg and Miliband, all striving to look like Pierce Brosnan, and devoid of deep political content.

My studies for Alexander Burnes have convinced me that the great incubus of colonial racialist baggage was largely an invention of the 1830’s onwards. Prior to that, the West largely judged people by religious affiliation before skin colour. There is no presumption in the writings of Mungo Park or Alexander Burnes of any intellectual superiority on their part on grounds of skin colour. The much underestimated presence of black people in the UK for centuries partly reflects the fact that they were viewed just as people. Of course this is broad brush, and the 18th century gentlemen with their picaresque coloured servants could have racist attitudes – and slave plantations. But it was not in general assumed that white meant superior in the way the racial construct arose during the mid-Victorian period.

It is also of course the case that prejudice in favour of the lighter skinned could be observed in Indian and African societies themselves as early as at least the seventeenth century, and that the relationship of those prejudices to lighter skinned governing elites or European contacts and mixed race people is a complex question.

But with all these caveats, it is still reasonable to assert that the mania among the fashionable young and black to have a lighter skin than God gave them is a reinforcement of the colonial and slave-owning prejudices of a couple of centuries.

I am as white as they come – almost blue like a good Scot. And pretty ugly. Colour has nothing to do with beauty.

It is illegal, but sales of skin lightening products in the UK are probably higher now that when they were still legal in the 1970’s. The real question is, what are we doing that makes people so unhappy with their own colour that they risk serious damage in this way?


121 thoughts on “Evil Enlightenment

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  • ingo

    On the make? kenny boy,whatever makes therm think that public schools are better? smaller classrooms maybe, but better? this Jones’ses dream is a real eyetwitcher, because what you buy first is a stale sense of tradition, some rancour, public school boys, some untouched by CRB checks, all sorts of talk and tat. You change your twnag if you want to, I enjoy hearing a ‘narfuk boar talkin bout it rainin over’t wilf haus’, England has so many diverse and interesting dialects and unless we cherish and practise them we will disappear under some cowboy english yle u w8it.

    Elevate those below to reach the dizzying hights of what exactly? Some outdated notion of an unsustainable, second rate, copy cat american consumer dream? Thats sheer fantasy from the 50’s, unreal and the past. Cherish what you got and be proud of who you are.

  • Sunflower

    @craig Holiday greetings to you and your family, and to the commentators here. May all your desires be fulfilled.
    .
    A materialistic society only based on the values of fulfilling bodily needs of eating, sleeping, mating and defending is an animalistic society and will not bring happiness and peace to anyone. On the other hand, people that are submerged in the bodily concept of mind are easy to control and exploit, thus the propaganda Fedup refers to.
    .
    Black want to be white, girls want bigger boobs, boys want bigger muscles, it’s all variations of the same theme. I am my body and the meaning of my life is to gratify my senses to the fullest until I die.
    .
    Perhaps 2012 will be the year when people starts to awaken to the fact they are eternal spirit souls, trapped in bodies of different shapes and forms. I hope so. If the catalyst is a massive economic crisis, world war or even pole shift that brings massive suffering, so be it.

  • Junius

    You are doing yourself no good Craig by banging the political correctness drum on this one, Craig and presumably trying to garner support from all thos right-on liberals. Have your ever heard of Gladstone’s ‘noble savage’ – he was not alone in this Rouuseaueasque idealisation of pre-civilized mankind? I’m afraid you’re wrong to blame nasty colonialist whitey for blacks wanting to look darker. Lighter skinned Africans (usually with more Arab blood) have regarded themselves as superior to their more southern neighbours well before Europeans began colonising the Contient. In the Indian sub continent lighter skinned women have always and are still regarded as more desirable. Even in Europe until the recent craze for toasting one’s skin under the sun, light skin meant you were not having to wrok long outide for long hours, so ipso facto ‘superior’.

  • ingo

    Junius, thats how it was in the last Millenium. Today we know much about genepools and how they make for healthier beings, far from me to value this fact as proof of ‘superiority’, mixing genes is good for us.
    mercury laden skin cremes are still sold in Africa, I do not know who manufactures it, it is an education issue all over the world and it is steeped in prejudices and falsehoods, sadly. I don’t find it a politically correct issue at all.

  • Giles

    How typical of SS to go for “odious racism” in the very first comment! How disingenuous of him to pretend that any objection to unfettered mass-immigration can be laughed off as the preserve of a hypocritical tax-exile in Dubai! That’s the way to do it – set up the straw funny man and then knock him down. It’s so much easier that way, right? The whole case against mass-immigration falls down because Jim lives in Dubai and Alfred makes his comments from Canada. And that was a nice attempt at indoctrinating the kid, but the plain sense of a young person not afflicted with your embittered intellect rather underscores your prejudices, don’t you think? Poor child doesn’t even know he’s a victim! That kid taught you a lesson, Saadi. If only you knew what it was.

    You drone on and on about racism and then deny there is such a thing as race! What you’ve done is draw attention to the fact that “racism” in the here and now is little more than a meaningless construct designed to stifle debate, or a stick with which to beat whitey. Well done. I wouldn’t bother with the racial aspect quite as much as CanSpeccy. What concerns me is culture and identity, and I can no longer identify with large swathes of my country. It cannot be repeated enough – we were not consulted over this and the vast majority of us does not wish to see it happen. So tell me, who lives, works and pays taxes here, do you believe in it for ideological reasons or are you siding with globalists who want a global transfer of labour in order to undercut the British worker?

  • Giles

    Junius: yes, indeed. It was quite a shock for me to discover the opinions of Somalis on “black” Africans. I’d been led to believe it was a white thing.

  • Fedup

    Race does not exist in biology, anyone who claims otherwise ought to step up to the plate and provide valid scientific proof, however at the outset it ought to be noted that any pseudo-scientific cock and bull will be rejected off hand.
    ,
    So far as the rest of the ill informed drivel; whining about “globalism” are concerned. These obviously have not been following the events, and are incapable of discerning, globalisms is about capital going global, and not the labour. This is attested by the obvious maltreatment of the would be travellers into/out of the airports and ghastly treatment of the foreign nationals visiting UK. These measures are designed to discourage, and stop any kind of people movement across the borders. The much promised flood of immigrants from Europe never materialising somehow has not sunk in yet.

    Hence Pyscho Stapleton killing Anuj Bidve, and the accelerating rate of hate crimes adding to the plethora of other hate crimes are further measures for discouraging any would be immigrant to UK, as a matter of policy can be adduced by the campaign of CanSpeccy* who proclaims he is “white” and goes on defending the despicable behavioured criminal Emma West, without so much as a RCMP knocking on his door. That is on top of the daily does of two minutes xenophobic hate in the MSM.
    ,
    Finally reading this thread highlights the degrees of illiteracy; in economy, biology, and banking systems as well as a convoluted and arbitrary value set, that is not tethered into reality, and is anchored in a cloud of half baked expectations, that form the foundations of the said cock-eyed value set.
    ,
    PS. The housing bubble is the only viable credit transactions remaining for the fractional reserves banking system, as well as major land owners, and major corporates involved in the buildings business. Furthermore high rents are not the fault of “mom and pops” landlord renting a room in their home, or the downstairs flat.
    .
    [* Mod/jon: some seriously intemperate language has been removed here – please be civil]

  • Jon

    @Giles:
    .
    As they say ‘up north’, calm down, calm down! I’d suggest that, if you use phrases like “disingenuous”, “indoctrinating”, “embittered”, “prejudices”, “[droning] on and on” towards your interlocuters, then it looks like you’re after a fight, not a discussion. I doubt Suhayl will wish to discuss anything with you.
    .
    > You drone on and on about racism and then deny there is such a thing as race!
    .
    I think what Suhayl said was that there is no *scientific basis* for race [1, 2]. I’ve no firm view on that myself, but I think we all agree that race is a thing that is socially recognised, and that that recognition has some positive and some negative consequences.
    .
    For what it is worth, I don’t think the views of this thread (that the colonial/slave-owning era has caused a subconscious guilt response that makes some groupings of people of colour wish to appear lighter than they really are) is incompatible with yours (that you wish for Britain to be less multicultural so you can identify with more people).
    .
    I’m white, male, middle-class, left-liberal and politically correct (of the sensible variety). And even I think it should be fine to express considered views about immigration in Britain; however, my objection to a proportion of ‘discussions about immigration’ is that they really *are* based on race/colour discrimination. Personally, if I have any concerns about immigration, it is that we’re not doing enough to foster integration – we need to persuade a great deal more British Muslim women [3] to learn English, for example. I think that would agree with your point about identification – it is much easier to assimilate/integrate if there is a shared love of the same language.
    .
    (Refs)
    .
    [1] The key point is this: Genetics is an aspect of our being and is a valid and important part of the corpus scientific enquiry. ‘Race’ is not. (31 Dec, 2011 – 5:31 pm)
    .
    [2] Race does not exist as a scientific fact. (31 Dec, 2011 – 7:43 pm)
    .
    [3] That said, as a language pedant I note that there are plenty of white British men and women who mangle English out of all reasonable comprehension. I feel pretty alienated from them, but suggest again that better education is the answer. I wonder how much the coalition is cutting from the school budgets this financial year!

  • boniface goncourt

    @Giles

    “What concerns me is culture and identity, and I can no longer identify with large swathes of my country.”

    Gosh, that sounds serious. Why don’t you migrate to the Falkland Islands? They have large swathes of racially pure sheep for you to reproduce with.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Jon, yes, I totally agree. Thanks.
    .
    Hello, Giles – and, and Julius, too – jolly nice to meet you both. Would you like a cup of tea? Strong, weak, middling…?
    .
    Oh, just to point out that the young person was a woman in her mid-20s who has her own views on matters, some of which I agree with, others of which I do not. And so, possibly we ‘indocrinate’ each other. That is the adult way.
    .
    Jon is a mod, as everyone knows, but is he also a Mod?
    .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCbi56jzoXI
    .
    Be happy. We are all One.
    .
    … sugar-lump, anyone?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Ah! Junius, not Julius. Apologies, old boy. ‘Giles and Junius’ – good name for an up-market delicatessen, in, say, Chelsea, Manhattan (an intensely creative, sexually diverse and exciting place). There might be another business opportunity there! Think about it. Unless you are already native New Yorkers, though, you’d first have to be immigrants. But you could set up delicatessens and coffee-shops like those superb establishments owned and run by Ethiopians in Washington, DC. You’d also have to remove those pin-ups of Jim Davidson.

  • Fedup

    [* Mod/jon: some seriously intemperate language has been removed here – please be civil]
    ,
    As the poster says: End these fucking wars Intemperate is the unjustified, uncalled for, and utterly baseless racist drivel, that is spewed in a regular and frequent fashion by CS on this board. Intemperate is the very notions that an immigrant to the lands he does not belong, and from there, to engage in immigrant bashing in UK; constantly referring to Immigrants/Muslims/Blacks/Coloured, who are killing off the indigenous “whites” (genocide of whites) in UK.
    ,
    Intemperance is the feeling one gets while hunting around the pavements and bushes for the kicked out teeth of a poor young lad which having been kicked out by some psycho wanker, ran away high on the shit the fuckwits the like of CanSpeccy have been spewing around the place. Intemperance is looking for the corner of the shirt of the poor victim to stuff into the gaping wound on his stomach, whilst the poor soul is wreathing on the ground, post getting stabbed by a ranting fuckwit screaming racial abuse before plunging the blade, aided and abetted by the likes of CS.
    ,
    Uncivilised is; there are no recorded national racial abuse and racially aggravated attacks figures for UK. There are no indications of unreported and under reported racial abuse and racially aggravated attacks figures.
    ,
    As ever the “freedom of speech” excuse is good enough for racist comments, alas the gurgling cries of the victims of the Free Hatemongers are not all the free to be echoing around the internet and fucking commercial Media.
    ,
    Let us hope that henceforth any racist crap this specimen is pasting all over the place on this board will also be “moderated” and deleted. Furthermore let us be clear at the outset, there can be no reasoned discourse to be entered into with the lamebrains, in the hope of changing their outlook; filling the cyberspace with “white genocide”.

  • Jon

    @Fedup – I subscribe to the view that abusiveness towards anyone automatically loses you the debate. I think CanSpeccy has offered you an open goal, so it would be a shame to concede under the circumstances!
    .
    Ultimately, we have these discussions because we want to persuade the other person incrementally, if not entirely, towards our own view. But you are in fact strengthening CanSpeccy’s mind – he will hardly respond reasonably to you now, will he?

  • Jon

    @Suhayl,
    .
    Ah, wasn’t a Mod, nor a Rocker – I should have been born earlier! But I do have a rather tasty bicycle, which I am sure could be improved by the addition of twenty shining chrome wing mirrors, of various shapes and sizes. It can be my new project for 2012, after I replace the brakes 🙂

  • Giles

    So white man is to blame for you rubbing talc into your face, Suhayl?

    Sorry, not my fault. And you shouldn’t have worried so much – you don’t even look dark.

    And we’re all One, so why the obsession with skin colour I don’t know. But then, as you say, it’s a self-loathing.

    Again, not my problem.

    I wouldn’t elevate what you did to anything more significant than a young woman using breast implants. I’m happy for you that you grew out of your teenage anxieties. Most of us do. Those demons are part of growing up, Suhayl. No need to introduce the British Empire or racism, except that it sits well with the right-on liberals Junius mentions. ‘Why do we put such an emphasis on appearance?’, as one contributor asked. Now that would be a much more relevant question.

  • Giles

    Other Mod,

    My post was not abusive, but I have deleted the parts you might have thought abusive in your rather one-sided interpretation, and re-posted the comment.

    I see “fedup’s” foaming rant has been left up, which tells me all I need to know about how the moderation in this place works.

  • Jon

    Reading one of the posts here, and also some posts today in the Guardian after the Lawrence verdict, I am pondering about the phenomenon labelled by the Right as ‘white self-hate’. It seems to me that this could come from a tribalist perspective, in which criticism of some white people a long time ago for slavery is seen as critical of white people up to the present day. It is deflecting a non-existent blame, perhaps to – consciously or otherwise – express dissatisfaction with anti-racism politics in general.
    .
    As a white man, I have no problem condemning slavery, and nor am I troubled in noting that it was predominantly carried out by white people against black people. I don’t experience any hatred to my colour for expressing this view, and nor do I feel I am ‘criticising my kin’ in saying it. I don’t feel that I am part of a ‘white kin’ in any case; there are plenty of odious white people who I feel no kinship towards at all.
    .
    So, I tend to smell a rat when I see phrases like ‘white self-hate’, as I think it exposes a darker – no pun intended – agenda. I don’t particularly see any evidence of white guilt, in any case – do white people feel guilty about slavery? Perhaps some do, but not extensively, or with much evidence. But the collective enslavement guilt that is reflected in modern black culture is substantial, and locks in race-based suspicion. I think to a great degree this explains the parlous state of race relations in the US: even in mainstream movies, Samuel Jackson cast as “the good black man” is teaching his kids “never to trust the white man”. Oh dear!
    .
    I should state that I don’t find fault with this ‘enslavement complex’ in itself. It certainly has negative social ramifications, but I think it is a predictable group-psychological result of slavery. It would be far better to blame slave-traders for their evil than to blame the current generations who are still hurting from the guilt they’ve had handed down to them.
    .
    I have often drawn a parallel between this phenomenon and the situation in the Middle East. It seems to me that if we consider that slavery is one of the worst abominations that have happened to ‘a people’, that the Holocaust must be mentioned in the same sentence. Jewish people in my view experience a guilt that comes from having been marked as vastly inferior, underscored by the murderous evil of Nazism. Thus, I see that part of the reason for Israel’s current consciousness is a determination to strike back at anything or anyone for the Holocaust – a blind panic that, as we know, ends up visiting new injustices rather than healing the old ones.
    .
    Predictably enough, Jewish people now who express solidarity with the Palestinians are labelled by right-wing Jews as “self-hating”. I usually dismiss this for the nonsense it is – it undermines the debate, and is designed to close it down. I think I’d be inclined to argue the same for ‘white self hate’ too.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Not had that cuppa yet, ‘Giles’?
    .
    I’d recommend it, old boy! Might remind you of the Old Country – what!
    .
    Whilst you take a break from defending both the British Empire and racism, oh, and of course, ‘The White Man’ (whoever he might be – anyone seen him recently? No? Oh well, perhaps he’s gone to Canada!).
    .
    Jon, I knew you were a Mod at heart! Indeed, do decorate your bicycle with mirrors, get a parka and roll! Here’s one from prime Mod group, The Action – whose keyboardist, incidentally, a gentleman by the name of Ian Whiteman, later became a Muslim. Yes, Ian Abdellatif Whiteman is a white man by both name and skin colour. A lovely guy he is, too.
    .
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Whiteman
    .
    ianwhiteman.com/
    .
    youtube.com/watch?v=SJIBe21ze5k

  • Jon

    @Giles – moderation is a complex beast, and it is a great deal harder when you actually have to do it. It isn’t always exactly consistent, especially when there are several mods, each making their own judgement calls. But we sometimes discuss it off-site, and in your case I agreed with Other Mod that your original post sounded highly racially motivated. I am not convinced your new one is much better.
    .
    You are clearly very angry, and taking it out on Suhayl – who has generously shared some sensitive details about his past – is thoughtless at the very least. If you want to be taken seriously here, then be civil and considerate.

  • Jon

    Night all, am off to bed. @Giles – my larger post above was inspired by another earlier poster, but it seems it is pertinent in light of your views too. I think group psychology explanations and the infectiousness of harmful ‘memes’ are very interesting in relation to the modern-day impact of slavery – what is your position on that?

  • Jon

    @Suhayl – thanks 🙂
    .
    I will take a gander at Mr. Whiteman tomorrow, when I have to choose betwixt work and YouTube!

  • Other Mod

    Giles, the pressure of moderation is time; comments can come in fast and the moderators are outnumbered. I saw your comment, and I saw Fedup’s multiple, long comments. I also saw that Jon was already busy dealing with Fedup, so I decided to handle yours.
    .
    My policy is simple. You can state any opinion and use any profanity you wish against public figures, institutions, governments, etc., but NOT anyone contributing to the discussion. If you’re writing to someone personally present, treat them respectfully or face the snippers.
    .
    Thanks for reposting, though I still think your comment is unnecessarily personal.

  • Other Mod

    I’m asking myself if I’d still follow the same policy if, for instance, Alisher Usmanov or Tony Blair were commenting here. I think I would. I’d let Craig insult them of course*, but a contributor’s comment would have to be very well structured and argued, and any insult would have to be highly relevant to be acceptable (*Craig would insult this way in any case).
    .
    The point is to promote the arguments about issues, because reason and justice will win through in the end. Attacking the contributor either drives them away or raises their defences; either way, the important arguments about the issues become obscured.

  • Sunflower

    Fedup said. “PS. The housing bubble is the only viable credit transactions remaining for the fractional reserves banking system, as well as major land owners, and major corporates involved in the buildings business. Furthermore high rents are not the fault of “mom and pops” landlord renting a room in their home, or the downstairs flat.”
    .
    The fractional reserves banking system is the root of the evil. As long as that remains there is no chance for real change to the better.

  • Tenuc

    “…The real question is, what are we doing that makes people so unhappy with their own colour that they risk serious damage in this way?

    Hi Craig / all, just popped in following a discussion with Clark on Tallbloke’s Talkshop, and after skimming through this thread felt I had to comment.

    I don’t think this is really anything to do with colour, it’s just part of the human condition to want conform to your perceived societal norm. Ladies with small breast often desire bigger ones, whilst those better endowed often go for a reduction. And inside every fat person a thin person is trying to get out.

    This desire to conform also makes £Billions for the fashion industry, with the choice of clothes you wear often making you one of the group or out. Wanting to belong also goes far deeper than just outward appearance; people climb onto various bandwagons, take part in activities they have no interest in, join political parties and clubs – all so they can feel part of a group and are not alone.

    Of course this is fine if they want to do so. However, the danger is that this desire can be used by unscrupulous people with hidden agendas to manipulate and coerce ‘ignorant fools’ to do their bidding.

    Better, I think, to be ones own person and not be a slave to societies demands. Everyone needs to find their own way to enjoy life, it’s the only one we’ve got.

  • Roderick Russell

    Craig, very interesting commentary. What indeed are we doing that makes people so unhappy with their own colour.
    #
    Most white people only see overt racism when it’s in plain view, and that has been very limited by law. They just don’t see the extent of the covert racism that is hidden from view and as a consequence they don’t realize what is going on. In the early 1970s I worded (as a trainee CA) occasionally for a white Audit Manager in his early 50s who was suffering from a serious illness (kidney, liver or something???) that had turned his skin brownish so that he looked a bit like he came from the subcontinent. When a lunchtime conversation topic turned to race, I had frankly expected a bit of an Enoch Powell perspective from him since he struck me as being somewhat right wing. Not a bit of it! He told me that since his skin had changed color there was hardly a day went past when he wasn’t ‘racially insulted’ by a stranger on the street because of his (new) skin color – and that most of us young professionals hadn’t a clue as to the real extent of racism that was going on covertly in British cities.
    #
    If, in these coming difficult economic times, we want to live in a prosperous and peaceful society we had better make sure that the two stupid British curses – racism and class prejudice – are dealt with once and for all.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Roderick,

    The story of:-

    ” I had frankly expected a bit of an Enoch Powell perspective from him since he struck me as being somewhat right wing. Not a bit of it! He told me that since his skin had changed color there was hardly a day went past when he wasn’t ‘racially insulted’ by a stranger on the street because of his (new) skin color – and that most of us young professionals hadn’t a clue as to the real extent of racism that was going on covertly in British cities.”

    The actual factual situation was written by John HOward Griffin in “Black like me”. He was a white American who darkened his skin and then ventured into the South. His book is about those experiences. It takes to another level the observations that you make.

    This brings us back full circle to observations that Canspecy made about the biological aspect of what we term “race” – then next to the social and psychological realities.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Roderick Russell, what an interesting acoount – thanks for sharing it. It sounds a little – not wholly – like a ‘Watermelon Man’ (meaning the film) kind of dynamic. Courtney, interesting too about the book.

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