After I saw the recent photos of MLB legend Sammy Sosa sporting his new anti-tan, I declined to rush to conclusions. I just knew it was a crappy photoshop hoax, you know, some kind of an internet prank. As a couple more days passed and Sammy admitted he was indeed the pasty creature in the pictures, I remained in denial. They were obviously remnants of Sosa’s Halloween evening dressed as Count Chocula I rationed. Then I turned my Dell Plasma to Univision, a channel I frequent to ogle the amazingly hot female reporters English speaking American channels could never get away with exploiting brush up on my Spanish. To my utter disbelief I watched a grown up Eddie Munster, purported to be the Dominican home run king, give an interview bragging about his new skin “rejuvenation” cream. Left with no other conclusion besides “this Negro done lost his natural Black mind,” I proceeded to torch my Sosa Topps rookie card.
As the card disintegrated under the flame, I reflected on what could make my formerly Jheri curled brethren cave in to white supremacist ideology. Was Sammy dealing with post-traumatic stress stemming from Michael Jackson’s death? Was he attempting to revive the spirit of MJ through self replication of his vitiligo? Maybe his wife’s light characteristics just started to rub off on him; you know, the longer people stay married the more they start to look the same (just look at Billary Clinton). Nah, for the second time in his life Sammy Sosa simply sold out to the Cream. He let everyone down when it was revealed that he cheated by consuming those magical home-run enhancers, and now he has destroyed any confidence that his remaining fans had in his integrity by whitewashing his pigmentation.
The perpetual optimist, I am ever so grateful to Sammy Sosa Sellout for giving me a platform to discuss the overarching problems that are indicative of his predicament. First, as a man of mixed Negro and Latino heritage I must address the problem of race misidentifcation in the Black and Hispanic community. I can recall days where I kicked it with my Puerto Rican and Dominican homies and comments about “morenos” were hurled around. Most of the time their skin was as dark, if not darker than mine, yet there was a clear distinction made between Blacks that spoke English and Blacks that spoke Spanish. It was clear to me that in their minds the Spanish language created a physiological distinction between them and English speaking Black people. It mattered not that they congenitally inherited just as much African blood as the next Negro; Spanish meant you were phenotypically different from English speaking Blacks.
This division, based predominately on language differences, has always disturbed me. Growing up with my Dad’s side being African-American and my Mom’s side being dark, Spanglish-speaking, Panamanians, I never considered myself anything other than Black. I hate when I have to fill out a form and I am forced to make a decision between shading in the “Black” bubble or the “Hispanic” bubble. It’s as if I’m being told it’s impossible to be both; or better yet, Blacks who natively speak Spanish are Hispanic, while Blacks who speak English, French, German, or any other language are a different race altogether. That’s absurd… and this is why Sammy’s overt attempt to make a clear distinction between himself as a Black man and himself as a Latin man is a wake up call – Blacktinos we must unite!
As Sammy Sosa has suddenly burst onto the scene as the real life Clayton Bigsby, I must also address the issue of self -hatred in the Black community. Females always ask me what type of women I find attractive. When I simply respond “sexy women” they tend not to believe me. After all, every guy has a certain “type” of women they explain. 9 times out of 10 they’re referring to skin color and body type. “Do you date dark skinned girls, or light skinned girls only?” they ask. Once again I assure them that I date sexy women. Period.
Years of being a sought after Black man (don’t hate!) has led me to understand why Sisters feel the need to ask this question. I recall conversations at Vanderbilt University with my boys. Sitting around talking ish about chicks, I can vividly remember a couple of buddies confessing that they exclusively devote their attention to light-skinned females. Strangely, these were some of the darkest brothers I ever met. I could never grasp how they couldn’t find women of their own skin color attractive. Not only were they Black-than-a-mofo, their mothers were dark as well. “Do they despise their mothers?” I pondered. Better yet, “do they despise themselves?” Clearly, white supremacy has permeated the minds of Black men to the point where many do not find mates of their own skin color to be worthy companions. In their eyes light is right.
Unfortunately, many Black women are guilty of the same sin. I realized this as I watched Precious (Monique deserves an Oscar BTW) last weekend. There’s a scene where the lead character looks into the mirror and sees a thin, blond-haired, White woman in the reflection, instead of a heavy-set Black woman. Also, the main character frequently fantasizes about her desire to find a light-skinned man with “good hair” to settle with. It is due to this mentality that situations like Sammy Sosa’s are more common than you might think. Skin bleaching products are a big hit in the Caribbean right now. Don’t believe me, check this out:
At the end of the day I am thankful for Sammy selling out so publicly. The conversations this fool has sparked will hopefully bring attention to the issues of Black/Hispanic race identity, self-hate, and the global skin bleaching epidemic. Whether you agree with my analysis of this situation or not, I hope you will heed the moral of this story: be comfortable with the skin you’re in.