Monthly Archives: April 2013

Love Me, In All My Shades

Some black women would go to extreme lengths to hav

Some black women would go to extreme lengths to have her complexion

Latisha, from the 10 September 2008 episode of the Tyra Banks Show, is allergic to bleaching creams. But because of her desperate need to lighten her skin, she put generic liquid bleach to her face. I remember feeling outrage when I first watched this episode at 15. What could possibly make a woman loath her colour so much? As she told her story, of how people told her that she was pretty, “for a dark girl,” I realised that I had experienced similar events. When people say things like that they make it seem like some sort of achievement to be pretty because I am dark, but can we really blame them if our definition of beauty is the opposite of what I am?

A beautiful black woman, according to mainstream media, is light-skinned. The hip-hop culture constantly promotes, “yellow-bones”, women of lighter skin. There is a general consensus that besides being viewed as more physically attractive, black women who have fair skin are favoured over “red-bones” or darker people. There are less cosmetic products that go with their skin tone where there is a wide-range for those of lighter skin and white people. Sometimes some cosmetics companies do not go beyond the darkest shade white people can achieve.

Colourism is very pertinent in our society today, besides being a recent and controversial topic. The term is applied to the discrimination between different shades of black people, where people (of all races) give preference to or discriminate against black people of a different shade. This problem keeps growing what with recent the recent boom in skin bleaching products.

As we are still hanging about in the dust of apartheid, it is important to realize that racism is not over. Just because laws enforcing racism are gone does not mean that the people who enforced, made and supported those laws stopped. White people are still favoured over black people in the media, and the black people we have in the media to represent us are mostly light-skinned. And it is no secret that they are favoured over darker people. It is wrong for people to be seen as more beautiful than others purely based on the colour of their skin.

In 2008, while her show was still on, Tyra Banks had an episode where she interviewed women who bleached their skin and asked them why they did it. Though her mother told Latosha she was beautiful, she also told her that, “being lighter brought [her] beauty out more.” She holds the same mentality and bleaches her own children.

I conducted a survey among black UCT (University of Cape Town) second year students, all on the brink of adulthood and therefore, the most susceptible to colourism. Most of the girls admitted that they did not like when their skin went darker. The image of black women presented in the media –of light-skinned women is what we come to naturally associate with as ‘beautiful’. One of my fellow students, Nyasha*, said that she did not hate her skin tone, she just did not like it when it got darker; it made her feel less beautiful. Another, Anele* said that her mother always told her to stay out of the sun and bought her bleaching cream when she refused. The boys admitted that they thought that light-skinned girls were prettier but, there were some really pretty dark girls as well.

I realize that most of my comments are generalizations and do not hold true in some cases but at the same time, they are generally true. I also believe that the image projected by the media to us needs to change and that black women need to be uplifted so that they can stop harming their skin and their children’s. The message we are giving to the younger generation, when we bleach our skin, is that they are not good enough as they are. We are teaching them to be ashamed of their skin colour. This message is wrong and bigoted; and it needs to change. That is why I find women like Tyra Banks, who constantly promote women and especially black women to love themselves as they are, so inspirational.

It is wrong for anyone, to feel insecure about their skin colour and wish to change it, especially in this day and age. But they are victims of society because, as I have said before, lighter-skinned women are put on a pedestal and as Tyra says in that episode of her show, “darker-skinned women need images of themselves in the media to feel beautiful…” because if all we see is light skin we are bound to see that the way we look does not fit into what society deems beautiful. And it will not be long before we wish to change it to fit the norm.

*All names have been changed.


Marikana News Analysis

This news analysis focuses on the Marikana strikes that occurred from the tenth to the twentieth of August last year. The strike was at the Lonmin Marikana mines. During the course of the strike, 34 people were killed and 78 were injured, the majority of the deaths occurring on the sixteenth of August when police opened fire on the striking miners. The cause of the strike was the miners’ request for higher wages. Some believe the violence escalated due to rivalry between two miners’ unions, NUM and AMCU. The three articles chosen best cover the Marikana story from all possible angles. The first highlights the social injustices encountered during and in the aftermath of Marikana. The second gives salience to political issues brought forward by Marikana and the last emphasises the effect Marikana has had on the South African economy.
The first article is from Daily Maverick (www.dailymaverick.co.za) a South African, independent online newspaper, owned by a private company. The article (http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-08-31-apartheid-and-the-marikana-murder-charges-a-common-purpose-indeed#.UVCytxxTCBU) Apartheid and The Marikana Murder Charges: A Common Purpose Indeed, is framed within an Apartheid context; comparing Marikana to events during apartheid. People reading this piece will react negatively to Marikana, given this frame, because that is the general response to any news reminiscent of Apartheid. There is evident agenda-setting in this article given the frame. By framing the piece within apartheid, the writer is calling on the reader to be outraged; drawing on public perception that things that happened during apartheid should not be happening now.
This article is an example of priming because it starts with the concept of common purpose in apartheid. Apartheid alone has many negative connotations. Then it discusses common purpose with regards to Marikana. The way in which the audience reacts to the information presented or the activation tags developed in the first part of the article are carried onto the second part of the article.
This article does not try for objectivity, immediately taking a viewpoint against the court ruling. In that respect one could say that the article is biased, it takes for granted the public’s opinion on common purpose. Although the article is morally right in assuming that opinion, as a news article, it could have been more objective, highlighting possible reasons the court ruled in favour of common purpose.
The second article is from The Nation (www.thenation.com), an American weekly magazine owned by The Nation Company. South Africa’s Marikana Moment (http://www.thenation.com/article/170040/south-africas-marikana-moment# ) was also published in the October, 8th Edition of their magazine. Because the magazine is American, it appears as if there is not much agenda-setting, considering the piece is politically-oriented. But because Marikana was an international story, there are hints of agenda-setting where the article draws on existing unrest between the ANC and the public.
This article is framed within a political context. It focuses more on the party in power, the ANC, does not draw much parallel between apartheid and Marikana and seems to think the parallels drawn between the two to be over-exaggerated. It emphasizes international and local belief that there is evident need for change in government but there is no worthy opponent.
It is a very well primed piece, drawing attention away from apartheid, insisting instead that the issues at Marikana were more politically and economically oriented. The author primes the audience away from apartheid to issues the South African government is dealing with now, the issues he thinks are more important. The article uses Marikana as a way to give salience to issues not obvious before and provides possible solutions.
By priming the audience for a political approach, the article is news because even though there had been articles about political issues, none of the others delved as deeply into the issues the ANC faces in the aftermath of Marikana.
This article tries for objectivity by not blaming the ANC for Marikana but it is evident that although not abjectly against the ANC, the author does believe that for change to occur; there is need for political change. Because of this, the article is biased but not overtly so. It does take advantage of popular belief that there is need for political change in South Africa.
The last article is from the Mail & Guardian (www.mg.co.za) a South African weekly newspaper owned by M&G Media. It is a self-owned, independent newspaper. The article, The Economic Impact of Marikana (http://mg.co.za/article/2012-11-02-the-economic-impact-of-marikana ) is a business-oriented piece, highlighting, as the title suggests, the economic impact of the events at Marikana.
Although the article does acknowledge the violence Marikana produced, it is more focused on the economic impact the event had on the country. The article gives salience to and is framed around problems in the government with regards to labour in relation to its impact on the economy. It primes the audience away from social aspects of Marikana and focuses more on the economic factors.
The article is still news because it introduces a new conflict to the Marikana event. Where some believe that Marikana had a negative impact on the economy, others believe otherwise; seeing the event as an eye-opener to the government forcing them to take a firmer hand with labour issues. By managing to point out both sides of the economic aftermath, the article avoids agenda-setting. Although the article points out weaknesses within the labour structure of the government, it is not against the government.
Of all the articles chosen, this is the most objective, but not completely. It suggests that Marikana did not have as bad an effect on the economy as is popular belief. Because it takes this particularly unpopular view, one could suggest that it does, to some extent, seem unbiased but, because it chooses a side, it is biased despite being the more unpopular view.
All the articles chosen offer a different picture of the same story and they are all news in their own respect. They are all examples of the different ways in which news can be conveyed, despite it being about the same event.