“White makes you win”
Cilka Ovettini

An very on-the-nose case study of a problem that’s more prevalent than most of us realize.

“This advertisement clearly implies that in order to be successful, you have to be white” — it does imply that, and it might be right in doing so.

These kind of ads would never fly over here, but all over the world they’re way more common than you think. I’m probably in the minority (ha) here for not being surprised by this at all. My parents are from Trinidad, a Caribbean island with a primarily black and brown ethnic population. The first few times I visited, I was shocked at how common these skin lightening ads are. Leaving the airport, I saw at least three distinct billboard advertisements promoting a product similar to that of Seoul Secret.

And with Trinidad, we’re talking about an English speaking, British commonwealth country, very in tune with North American culture.

Perhaps because of the race-based social hierarchy resulting from colonialism, but in most countries where the population is mostly homogeneous with regards to ethnicity, whiteness is a huge determinant on social perception.

It’s more nuanced, because it’s not really “racism”, since whiteness varies within races. It really is just the culturally accepted norm. And we in North America aren’t exempt, think about the traction that #TeamLightSkin has gained on social media. Whiteness is considered along the lines of height, or fitness, as an objective measurement of a person’s physical value.

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