When I saw the photos of Sammy Sosa that have been circulating online, one dancehall classic came immediately to mind.

There’s a few more photos on Huffington Post that show the sharp difference in his pigmentation.

The story Mr. Sosa is sticking to is that a skin rejuvenation procedure has made his skin appear lighter, and besides that the lighting made him appear significantly fairer skinned than normal.

If that’s true, then it’s a shame that Mr. Sosa had a facial treatment that resulted in such marked discoloration. Any technician worth their salt will tell you, laser treatments can be very problematic for black skin, and deep chemical peels can damage black skin. So I’m curious as to what kind of treatment Mr. Sosa may have had, so I can make sure not to ever get it myself.

Additional conjecture that Sosa may have vitiligo triggered by steroid use has been gathering steam around the blogosphere.

Among many, the concern is that Sammy Sosa is undergoing a Michael Jackson-esque makeover. He’s reportedly wearing colored contact lenses. Sadly, if Sammy Sosa has indeed been bleaching his skin for superficial reasons — he wouldn’t be alone.

Throughout the Caribbean and Africa, skin bleaching is a popular phenomenon. Products like Fair and White, So White, and Nadinola fly off the shelves throughout most Caribbean islands. Just recently in Jamaica, dancehall artist Lisa Hype defended the practice of skin bleaching and even celebrates the practice in her song Proud of Mi Bleaching. The song title alone speaks volumes, and is a mentality that I have a hard time understanding. But it’s real and it’s happening — black people around the world still seek to alter their natural beauty, often by dangerous means. Just this year reports surfaced of a black woman who underwent a questionable operation to change the color of her eyes from brown to blue. And despite the known dangers of skin bleaching — from permanent disfiguration to skin thinning to cancer — there are those who pledge undying loyalty to the practice. For more insight, check out this clip by Current TV about a Jamaican family of skin bleachers.

Sammy Sosa may not be deliberately lightening the color of his skin by chemical means — one photo can’t tell the whole story. Either way, he needs to stop whatever he’s doing that appears to be causing so much change and apparent damage to his skin color. I still want to give him the benefit of the doubt, so I hope he really isn’t using skin whiteners. But I also hope that this current outcry reaches the people out there who are risking long term health effects hoping to achieve a more light skinned appearance, and sends a direct message that the practice is sad, scary, stupid, and unnecessary.
Queen Ifrica said it all better than I ever could.

** edited November 10 at 10:39 p.m. CST — Well, Sammy’s admitted the truth during television interviews with both ESPN Deportes, and Univision. My suspicions were correct.

“”It’s a bleaching cream that I apply before going to bed and whitens my skin some,” said the former slugger during the “Primer Impacto” program at the Univision Spanish network.

“It’s a cream that I have, that I use to soften [my skin], but has bleached me some. I’m not a racist, I live my life happily,” said a smiling Sosa during the interview.”

And he’s joking about marketing the product too. I would write more about this topic, but all of a sudden I have a mysterious headache. SMH.

Photo courtesy the Chicago Tribune.



Tafari says:
November 9, 2009, 1:50 am
I used to take my oldest daughter to an African braiding salon that sold skin bleaching products & I was so confused by it back then. I later researched skin bleaching in Africa & was horrified by what I learned. Sadly, I hear that skin bleaching is down in Indian, Japan & across South America. Ingrained white beauty desires & fuc!*&^ us up hear to toe. Weaves, perms, skin bleaching, contacts, facial reconstruction: what the hell is next? Here are some links that you may find interesting: http://bit.ly/2Q9BFI http://bit.ly/2gpzM2 http://bit.ly/14Gaw Tafari
Sheena says:
November 9, 2009, 2:09 am
I saw those pictures of him over the weekend and I literally gasped. I was a big Cubs fan (still am) when he was playing for Chicago, and I always wondered what he had been up to. I don't know what is going on, but I feel like it's all a part of some chicanery. I'm sorry, but if a skin rejuvenation treatment leaves your skin looking like that, then you need to leave it alone, pronto.
Nicole J. Butler says:
November 9, 2009, 2:21 am
Sad & sick.
Inna L. Smith says:
November 9, 2009, 3:36 am
This is truly sad. Just seeing pictures like this and of the many other changes that many celebrities of color have went through to become more "appealing" in the public's eyes makes me sad. It is not right, this is not what our children should be looking up to and admiring. Its just so sad.
Liz B. says:
November 9, 2009, 3:59 am
I can perhaps understand the ideology and thought process behind the sort of behavior because of what I've been in the Latino community as well as what I've studied in my sociology classes, but those circumstances still do not lessen the shock I felt upon view the end result. I can't believe someone would willingly take part in a "skin rejuvenation process" that would leave your skin looking like this. It's an obvious lie to cover up the truth, the rampant colorism that pervades the Latino and Black community.
Liz B. says:
November 9, 2009, 4:00 am
what I've seen*, viewing* please excuse the spelling errors, it's late :\
Dori says:
November 9, 2009, 4:49 am
I thinks its one of the sadest storys black folks all over the world are goin through. Sosa should be honest at least cos u can tell u wants to look caucasian with his "green" eyes and super relaxed hair. I live in Germany and here that bleachin thing is common. We have to start accept our beauty. Black is beautiful and it will always be.
camille says:
November 9, 2009, 5:00 am
The Caribbean and Africa? Why do you omit Asia, is the continent not black enough? No, but you are a Trini... Anyways I find that odd. He wants to look young and being light is a consequence he's willing to deal with. You don't understand the mentality?:S it's pretty simple to me. It makes even more sense in Sammy Sosa's case than in Jamaica. What makes even less sense to me is white ppl tanning themselves orange. I've used bleaching cream (Nadinola).I liked it, for the record i used is as it was supposed to be used spot treatment on scars.
Mai-Mai says:
November 9, 2009, 6:07 am
His face has given me nightmares. Its not even gradual just *Bam*. Damn Sammy Damn.
Miss Fizzy says:
November 9, 2009, 6:54 am
Did the treatment also straighten his hair and change the colour of his eyes? This man obviously has identity issues!
'rah says:
November 9, 2009, 7:03 am
Hi Bella, I recently moved to Malaysia from Trinidad and it was shocking to me to see how rampant skin whitening is in Asia. Most skincare products, for both men and women, contain a whitening agent. Even products that we are familiar with from the US have an added whitening agent for the Asian market. There is a perception here that their yellow undertone is unattractive and what is desirable is a "fairer, rosy complexion." Living here really opened my eyes...it's not just Black people who experience self-hate as a result of centuries of brainwashing. Sosa is a sad sad man. Were it not for the coloured contacts (I once saw a news report that featured a surgical procedure available in Panama to change your eye colour - maybe he should look into that too), and the permed hair, perhaps his story would be believable. I pity the fool!
Me says:
November 9, 2009, 7:17 am
a.eye says:
November 9, 2009, 8:01 am
I heard many years ago that he classifies himself as white in his native land. There are many titles for 'race' there. Perhaps he is just trying to make sure that he can pass when he says that. Sad that societies come to that, unacceptable in my eyes, but understandable knowing his upbringing and lifestyle.
tsagrednerp says:
November 9, 2009, 8:46 am
It's rampant, RAMPANT in the Jamaican culture. Especially in the dancehall arena. Men and women alike are doing it. the concoctions used damage the skin so badly that these persons wear clothes to cover their entire bodies when they're out in the sunlight. It's not uncommon to see someone covered head to toe in dark clothing at midday here in Jamaica. The weather is scorching hot usually over 100 degrees and they're covered as if it were sub-zero. The products have a thinning effect on skin where it is susceptible to bruising very easily so they avoid direct sunlight at all times. It's not a new phenomena it's sadly just a renewed one. It's a reinforced behavior though and this is why it continues. I cannot speak about any other culture but my own. I have heard though of bleaching being present in Asian culture.
Godiva says:
November 9, 2009, 8:46 am
I am a dark skin black woman who USED to have vitiligo. This is skin bleaching right there -- he looks so happy like, "I've finally made it" look. I'm Haitian as well and in the island of Hispanola skin bleaching is, unfortunately, a common thing esp. in the DR. I went to a dermatologist and got a creme for it -- let me tell you hove completely devastating it was to start to lose my pigment. I will never speak ill of my color. I thank God for that extremely important lesson
bella says:
November 9, 2009, 8:59 am
Camille - you are correct, it was an oversight on my part to omit Asia. Many of the creams that are most popular in my home country of Trinidad are from India, and many of the most direct and unfortunate color issues I've heard about are within Indian families. So apologies for the oversight, I wrote this in the time of evening when my brain was becoming cloudy with sleep, and I drew from my own growing-up experiences (which were primarily affected by Caribbean colorism).
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
November 9, 2009, 9:43 am
I haven't noticed any bleaching in St. Martin but the last time I was there was two years ago. Regarding Mr. Sosa I don't understand why someone would do that to their face.
Krissy says:
November 9, 2009, 10:37 am
His hair even looks processed.
Ashley says:
November 9, 2009, 10:37 am
Asians well as Latin countries have also been known for the use of skin bleaching products by their people.
CJ says:
November 9, 2009, 10:38 am
WHY, Sammy, why? I cringe every time I see or hear about someone who has done this to their skin. It makes me sad to hear when people go through this. Color issues, color issues...
Ashley says:
November 9, 2009, 10:39 am
Sosa looks horribly weird with light skin. We are always more beautiful the way God created us.
Ashley says:
November 9, 2009, 10:54 am
Bleaching skin is also common in India as many of them have adapted the view that lighter skin is more beautiful. It is sad.
Mai-Mai says:
November 9, 2009, 12:08 pm
Godiva i know its not funny but i lol'd at the “I’ve finally made it” look on his face. Its true! The sick thing is he thinks this looks good! I can't stop staring at the picture. I can't.
nikki says:
November 9, 2009, 12:17 pm
So sad. Leave those steroids alone, Sammy.
Chatty Patty says:
November 9, 2009, 1:48 pm
This is truly sad!!!!!!
Olivia says:
November 9, 2009, 2:28 pm
Sammy looks scary...thats the result of skin bleaching...
Gina says:
November 9, 2009, 4:07 pm
This is sad. Even if he is undergoing a skin treatment, (don't believe it) what treatment could this possibly be? He's wearing green contacts and his hair seems far too slicked down. All of this is coincidental? Sammy stop whatever it is you're doing please.
Samantha says:
November 9, 2009, 6:30 pm
Second-hand embarrassment...and shame (?) is what I'm feeling right now. :\
J.Adia says:
November 9, 2009, 7:05 pm
Maybe if he didn't have the green contacts and the Duke Ellington conk. I'd believe his story.
J.Adia says:
November 9, 2009, 7:08 pm
don't know why I put a period in the middle of my sentence....
winnie says:
November 9, 2009, 7:18 pm
He is the epitome of a H.A.M. He looks like an overgrown version of Eddie Munster! This is the result of a "process" but trust that it was a deliberate one. The contacts and the oily-doily press and curl only add to the madness. Bless his heart..
AGray says:
November 9, 2009, 7:42 pm
Wow .. I had no idea that Sammy Sosa was doing this to himself, but as I saw the picture, I thought of the exact same dancehall song as you Bella. I LOVE that song :)
Black Honey says:
November 9, 2009, 9:24 pm
Good Black Honey: I hate to be the one who brings up the intersection of hair and skin color, but Sosa is an extreme example of why we must celebrate black and brown beauty in all shades and textures. A friend and I were talking about the Jackson family and how it seems that at the minimum they all seem to have a nose job. My friend stated that she could not imagine the internalized abuse that manifested itself in every one of them butchering themselves. What messages did Joe and Miss Katherine give them as children? I looked at my friend who was genuinely distressed by this and I thought of the messages I had been told as a child. You see, my friend went to the salon twice a week to have her straightened with a ceramic iron. Aren’t we given similar messages about our hair? As children don’t we see our parents oh and ah over light skin that often accompanies “good hair”. We grow up being taught that dark skin isn’t beautiful and we are bombarded with that message everyday inside and outside our home. To make matters, worse we are told that straightening your hair is okay, but lightening your skin is unacceptable (You can’t do anything about your skin, but CAN fix your hair.) It seems to me that based on the messages received Sosa, Lil’ Kim, the Jacksons are doing what is expected. I wonder if skin lightening wasn’t cost prohibitive, how many people of color would partake in it. Bad Black Honey: Ain't that much damn skin rejuvenation in the world!!!
blackisbeautiful says:
November 9, 2009, 11:59 pm
He doesn't have no damn vitiligo! What a shame!
M says:
November 10, 2009, 2:09 am
It's not just Africa and the Carribean. Movie stars in India promote bleaching products and it's just as popular there.
kww says:
November 10, 2009, 10:56 am
I don't think that anyone would be saying he should have stayed dark if he were a woman. It is only "bad" when men bleach. People prefer women to have lighter skin, especially black men.
dee says:
November 10, 2009, 12:23 pm
Of course they would have said something. Remember Lil Kim. People had a whole bunch to say about her butchery, which included skin lightening.
Shell says:
November 10, 2009, 2:28 pm
Sammy, why? This is just disturbing to me.
honee says:
November 10, 2009, 4:44 pm
co-sigining bad black honey...lol...when I first saw the pictures of Sammy...I just shook my head...I'm still shaking my head...he looks horrible...
Deena says:
November 10, 2009, 6:51 pm
OMG you gotta know that tune had me bogling in my seat. Not heard that in YEARS! On a serious note- I have never heard of this guy before but he looks like one DUPPY. Vitiligo- steriods- I'm just not buying it. Whatever hes been doing to himself he needs to STOP because he looks ridiculous and Lord only knows the damage he's doing to his skin.
Um...no says:
November 10, 2009, 8:52 pm
Oh, Sammy! You lied about the steroids and now you're lying about "skin rejuvenation." Stay brown, "brother": even if you have no racial pride, you just look better with your natural skin, eyes, and hair. Sammy's an adult who is definitely no stranger to illegal and unwise substances. I'm more worried for his kids (assuming he has some). What message does it send when Dad is changing before your very eyes - and it's neither natural nor medically necessary? Mom, what's wrong with Daddy.....? p.s. @Deena: "I have never heard of this guy before but he looks like one DUPPY." *Snap*
The Man says:
November 10, 2009, 9:54 pm
Each culture promotes their own RACIAL hatreds. The spanish culture promotes racial hatred to the 9th level. I've seen it in Miami and PR & DR. If they have dark skinned people in their family they try to hide them. Its just like the Indian culture as well. There is deep hatered for the lower cast uneducated people who are also the darkest. The light skin Indians ack like gods and think allot about themselves. Its funny that everyone blames the White man for Racial Hatred however it existed everywhere before he even got there. Even in Africa there was racial or tribal hatred prior to the white man. It was the tribal hatred that started the trans-atlantic trade. The white man came to the cape of good hope and some tribes would sell their captured other tribe members to them. And what did they do after Africa got its freedom in the 70's/80's/90.s. they went back to the tribal hatreds and wars such as the Rowanda genocide. Racial hatred allows some to look down on others and feel good about themselves. It will never stop and will always be with man for it is his Nature.
The Doctor says:
November 10, 2009, 10:08 pm
Leaders or Followers. Sammy Sosa has a nerosis complex. Mentally he feels insecure, inferior and inhibited. Michael Jackson had the same nerosis. Many people in life feel the need to please the masses. They crave extreme attention, look in the mirror extensively, follow every fad and fashion and cling to every word of the spin doctors. Those people are insecure, have low self esteem and deep down are ashamed of themselves. This nerosis usually stems from an early childhood of abuse verbally, sexually or otherwise. Sammy If you need counceling I am here for you. Spend some hours on the couch and it will help.
flygyrl72 says:
November 11, 2009, 2:55 am
He looks horrible. Like his face has a ton of the wrong shade of foundation plastered on. I had a good laugh at this photo though. He looks like an ashy puppet, like his face is made outta Play-Doh. I still think that him doing this, with cream or whatever, was probably more motivated by his urge to have more clear & unblemished skin than lighter skin. I'm from Chi & have seen him a few times up close. Dude has BAD skin. Craters, dark spots, bumps, you name it. Very craggy appearance. And once, one of my girlfriends with really bad skin started some type of chemical peel to treat it & she lightened up a lot too, it wasn't permanent though. So we'll see if this freakface fiasco of his continues or what, cause I don't know why he would all of a sudden just jump up & start with this now. He could've been doing this years ago, back when he was really poplular, if being lighter was such a big deal to him. Probably the guy just needs a good dermatologist. Time will tell...
classicplussizewoman says:
November 11, 2009, 3:19 am
@ The Man I was also thinking it was deeply rooted in some childhood stuff. I feel blessed to be of a family where everyone is more or less the same shade of black so there was no discrimination or glorification within the family. And anyhow my mother was very conscious and Proud. But I can imagine how hurtful and isolating it might be if your loved ones make you feel literally like the Black Sheep. Somethings you don't get over. True there were always tribal wars, but the whole white or light worship thing came with the European colonialist, them breeding with the "locals" and elevating their mixed blood light off spring over the full blood African, Asian, or Indian subjects. You have to give them their props for doing such a good job at screwing us up. But watching that video on bleaching makes me think we're just crazy anyhow. (lol)
The Doctor says:
November 11, 2009, 8:55 pm
Sammy, The couch is Waiting... "Black is Beautifull" Say it Loud "I'm Black and I'm Proud"
Kitty says:
November 13, 2009, 12:17 am
Pobre Sammy. As an afro Puerto Rican I am so sad for him. I agree with some of the comments here that in Latino countries the lighter you are the better, especially if you have straight hair. Tons of Latinos are addicted to creamy crack and Dominican blowouts. Plenty of my family members are. And there is still a hefty amount of the black=bad and white=successful attitude. Not so much in PR thankfully. But we occasionally get the "joke" of bettering the race by marrying someone light skinned. That joke needs to die out already! XP In our Spanish TV all we see are "white" Latinos in Novelas, news, gameshows, etc. It is beyond rare to see dark skin Latinos like me. They are just starting to show up in commercials and TV shows. Its no wonder Sammy's bleaching his skin. :( I pray he stops while he's still ahead.
Kitty says:
November 13, 2009, 12:51 am
I also have a song for my latino brothers and sisters by the late great Ismael Rivera: Las Caras Lindas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xe8SwzwlHcE Here's some of the song translated: The beautiful faces of my black people are a parade of sails in bloom when they pass in front of me, its blackness, it makes my whole heart happy The beautiful faces of my race have crying, sorrow and pain they are the truth, that life challenges but they have inside they have a lot of love We are the laughing molasses And the weeping molasses We the loving molasses and moves you with every kiss... Its a great song and one of my Dad's favorites. God rest his soul.
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Misha says:
February 4, 2016, 4:41 am
I group the phenomenon of skin lightening with the now common practice of hair restructuring and hair weaving. Taken to its logical conclusion, self-hate results in the complete breakdown of self-identity and the eventual self disassociation from black to white that we are witnessing in the life of Sammy Sosa (like watching a train wreck). It is common for those in the minority to emulate those in the majority. What we are seeing now is the emergence of transracialism, not just passing but proclaiming. The question is, how do we stem this tide?


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