This is one of those reports that left me wondering whether to make it the subject of a post or not—chiefly because the reports are coming from sources that are unfamiliar to me and because I can’t confirm the authenticity of the photo above, where Kartel (if indeed it is Kartel and not some photoshopped prank) looks considerably lighter-skinned and somewhat ill. It is of sufficient interest, however, so here it is, albeit with the appropriate disclaimers.
There are growing reports in the net of Jamaican dancehall star Vybz Kartel having reportedly used a “strong agent” to lighten his skin after photos have emerged of the artist with decidedly paler skin. Rollingout.com is reporting Kartel has said “this is my new image,” referring to his new lighter skin tone. “You can expect the unexpected. I feel comfortable with black people lightening their skin. They want a different look. It’s tantamount to white people getting a sun tan.” (More on this particular reports can be found at http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/01/jamaican_dancehall_star_vybz_kartel_bleached_his_skin.html.)
The reports have drawn considerable backlash from fans and critics. Blogger Amir Shaw says Kartel’s choice to lighten his skin stems from a “deeply rooted self-hatred that has permeated the black community for hundreds of years. “White slave owners often created discord between dark and fair skinned slaves to minimize the chances of a slave revolt. As a result, that form of thinking was passed along through generations of black culture,” he wrote in a blog post.
An article today in The Atlanta Post (http://atlantapost.com/2011/01/20/vybz-kartel-and-the-skin-lightening-complexity/) takes him to task thus:
That’s why it is downright painful to see pictures of the new and “improved” Vybz Kartel, a Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist, who went public about his recent physical alteration. Kartel’s once beautiful, chestnut brown skin has been transformed to a dull, pale and eerie color, which he did with the assistance of a skin lightener.
Like many confused folks, Kartel tried to rationale his inferiority issues with claims that the skin whitening process he has underwent is no different from “white people getting a sun tan.” He is even considering endorsing the yet-to-be named cake soap product, which brought about his new ghostly profile.
Comparisons to Sammy Sosa, who had his own close encounter with skin-bleaching chemicals, have emerged.
Skin bleaching is explored in fascinating ways by Jamaican artist Ebony Patterson in her series on dancehall. (See our earlier post at «Ganstas, Disciplez plus the Doiley Boyz”—New Work by Ebony G. Patterson)
Sales of skin lightening products in the U.S. are expected to increase nearly 18 percent by 2015, reaching $76 million annually, according to market researcher Global Industry Analysts. Last year the Chicago Tribune tested 50 skin-lightening creams and found some had high levels of mercury — enough to potentially cause kidney damage.