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Blac Chyna Launching Her Collab Line with Dencia of 'Whitenicious' Revives Outrage Over Skin Bleaching

And rightfully so.

Blac Chyna has announced that she's heading to Lagos in about a week to launch her product in collaboration with Cameroonian singer DenciaWhitenicious x Blac Chyna Diamond Illuminating & Lightening Cream—and the internet has been on fire since.

Although the controversy surrounding Dencia and her brand Whitenicious has been on everyone's radar for over 4 years now, the outrage surrounding this new money bag venture for both ladies (each jar costs $250 according to TMZ) isn't surprising, but disheartening.

This launch is an ironic full-circle moment—a black woman heads to an African country to celebrate and promote a product that epitomizes self-hate and health risks—all for a chance to cash in on a multibillion-dollar industry.


Skin bleaching, or skin whitening, is a phenomena that stems from the impact colonialism had not just on the African continent, but also in the Caribbean and Asia. The colonial powers were adamant on stripping our countries of our resources, but also stripping our pride as a people by equating social status and social mobility to how light (rather, white) one's skin is. Even until today, these skin lightening brands still advertise and capitalize on the colorism dynamic and inherited low self-esteem.

Along with the social implications of skin bleaching, there are literal health risks that are hard to ignore. The New York Times reminds us that about 70 percent of women in West Africa use these products and according to the World Health Organization, 77 percent of Nigerian women use some form of skin bleaching products on a daily basis.

Back in August 2016, Ghana's Food and Drug Authority placed a ban on skin bleaching products that include hydroquinone—an ingredient that stops the production of melanin that protects the skin from the sun. Despite this, there are still concerns of an increase in skin cancer because of the lack of melanin skin bleachers have.

Dencia has taken to Twitter and Instagram to defend her product, stating that Whitenicious does not have hydroquinone as an active ingredient and is FDA-compliant (although what makes a product compliant to the FDA is a gray area in of itself, but that's another conversation for another day).


In the same vain, she proceeds to gaslight critics and even threatens to sue for defamation.

But we need to call a spade a spade—and even revisit Dencia's original Whitenicious ad compared to what she used to look like.

Abeg, how can the skin that covers one's whole body be covered in 'dark spots?' Nigerians on social media have been similarly scratching their heads in bewilderment, including Burna Boy on his Instagram Stories.

"Anybody who attends this rubbish might as well commit suicide. Blacc Chyna please don't come to my Home and sell your Poison. Because the thunder that will fire you is wearing that big Balenciaga trainers," he says. "Ladies, your black is beautiful!"

Nigerian-American beauty guru and YouTuber Jackie Aina and Ghanaian-British artist FuseODG resound along as well.


Nigerian-British actor and fitness instructor Kelechi Okafor's thread adds context to the conversation—emphasizing the big picture of this move.

"If white supremacist patriarchal ideologies weren't so successful we wouldn't have the constant aspiration to be as closely linked aesthetically to whiteness," Okafor says. "I aim not to shame those who bleach but rather those who are complicit in marketing it."

Words mean things and we weren't born with two heads. To say that a product "lightens," "brightens" and "illuminates" is a slick way of coercing women to use risky products that will slowly destroy their skin and put their health at risk. Hyperpigmentation is indeed a struggle many black women face, but it should be solved by a dermatologist that specializes in treating dark skin, not by a quick fix in a jar.

The front page of The New York Times on January 16, 2019

Kenyans Are Furious at the New York Times for Posting Photos of Terrorist Victims

After the the deadly attack on Tuesday, many are accusing the American newspaper of having a double standard on which dead bodies they allow into the paper

Is the New York Times guilty of a double standard when it comes to publishing images of dead bodies?

Kenyans, and others fed up with the coverage, took to social media in the hundreds to denounce a Times article that included an image of victims of Tuesday's Nairobi terrorist attack, bloodied from bullets, and lying hunched over their laptops, dead.

It has cause enough debate online to where the Times' incoming East Africa Bureau chief Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura felt the need to explain their photo policy, which is to show the dead only if their faces cannot be seen in the image. The photo in question fits the policy as the faces are facing away from the camera. She would later apologize before posting the official policy to her Twitter account. The photo remains up.

The Times' official response, as those tend to do online, has only created more anger. But unlike many unruly Twitter mobs, those responding to the official statement have a rather coherent message—"you wouldn't do this with photos of the American dead."

Some of the responses to the Times' official statement.

In a response to the controversy from the Poynter Institute, a typically astute observer of journalistic practice in the United States, they run through the typical American journalism school approach to publishing photos that might shock or offend. They write:

Should the Times have run the photo?
There is no easy answer.
The first question any news organization must ask when deciding to publish violent images is: WHY show it?
In other words, what is the news value? Does the public need to see such an image to fully grasp what happened? Does the public need to see such a photo to confirm or disprove the official account of the events?
An argument could be made that a writer's words could accurately describe the scene without being as disturbing as the image. In addition, when it comes to an act of terrorism, might publishing such a photo actually advance the cause of the terrorists, showing the damage they caused, thus fueling dread and panic?
Also this: The photo on the Times website came without warning. As a reader, you didn't know you were going to see a photo of dead people until you actually saw it.
Those are arguments to not run such a photo or, at least, warn readers of its graphic content.

While it's a fine analysis of when to show a violent image, it misses the central issue at play for those aggrieved by the Times' posting—that the American news-gaze values certain lives differently. Black, brown, foreign, poor—American journalism organizations, including the New York Times, cannot escape a base ethnocentrism in their coverage. It's so embedded into how these institutions operate, and the gap in understanding is so wide, that to much of the world, the Times' official response is laughably wrong at first glance.

"We take the same approach wherever in the world something like this happens--balancing the need for sensitivity and respect with our mission of showing the reality of these events"

And while there are examples from the Times that complicate this feeling, like these images of the dead in the terrorist attack in Nice, France, it doesn't discount the wider and correct feeling that the white victims of American mass shootings are treated differently than their African counterparts. And while there are complicated and systematic reasons for this which will always make discussing it difficult, to simply deny that different standards exist, does not increase the Times' credibility with Kenyans or the newspaper's growing online audience which will only become more vocal about how they're portrayed.

Falz 'Moral Instruction'

The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

The best music of the week featuring Falz, King Monada, Zlatan, Yemi Alade and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow OkayAfrica on Spotify and Apple Music to get immediate updates every week and read about some of our selections ahead.

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Violent Attack at Kenyan Hotel Ends With 14 Dead

The remaining hostages were freed after a 17-hour standoff between militants and Kenyan security forces on Wednesday.

The final hostages in the violent terrorist attack which took place at the DusitD2 Hotel in Naoribi's affluent Westlands district yesterday have been freed after a 17 hour standoff between Kenyan security forces and Al Shabab militants.

In a speech this morning, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the rescue mission over, stating that there were 700 people rescued and a total of 14 casualties. He also stated that all of the attackers had been killed in the operation, according to Quartz Africa. "Every person that was involved in the funding, planning and execution of this heinous act will be relentlessly pursued," added Kenyatta.

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