Skin Bleaching, Oppression and Black Resistance

25 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2014 Last revised: 6 Jan 2016

Date Written: November 5, 2014


The popular explanation for skin bleaching among Blacks is self-hate which is a legacy of slavery. This chapter debunks the self-hate or internalized oppression thesis as the reason for skin bleaching in Jamaica with empirical evidence and posits the alternative explanations of colorism and miseducation. The self-hate thesis is a one-size fit all explanation which ignores the variegated history and culture of Blacks and their resilience in the face of oppression. Some skin bleachers do suffer from self-hate but the large majority do not hate themselves so it is important to interrogate the culture that influences them to alter their black physicality. The study participants who lighten their complexion are referred to as skin bleachers (also known as rubbers) in this chapter because this is what they call themselves in Jamaica. The Americas as used in this chapter means North and South America, Central America and the Caribbean. The chapter starts with an illustrative review of the literature on colorism and miseducation, skin bleaching, and internalized oppression. Next, are the method, results, discussion and conclusion sections of the chapter.

Keywords: skin bleaching, skin whitening, self-hate, self-esteem, meaning making, internalized oppression, African American Identity, Jamaica

Suggested Citation

Charles, Christopher, Skin Bleaching, Oppression and Black Resistance (November 5, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Christopher Charles (Contact Author)

University of the West Indies ( email )

Kingston 7
Mona, Mona Kingston 7

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