Jamaican dancehall music promoting skin bleaching sends harmful message

Popular Jamaican dancehall performers who promote skin bleaching in their music are sending a harmful message to their fans, according to Dustin Duncan, an Alonzo Smythe Yerby Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard School of Public Health. The use of over-the-counter bleaching creams — booming in popularity around the world —raises users’ risk of developing certain types of cancer, as well as dermatological problems.

Promoting the practice may also increase feelings of self-hatred in dark-skinned fans, Duncan wrote in a March 6, 2013 commentary on the Huffington Post. He quoted lyrics in which performers cite the brands of cream they use and boast about looking more attractive with lighter skin.

This is “a symptom of what I believe to be internalized racism,” Duncan wrote, expressing concern over the “message that black/dark skin complexion is appalling” on the mental health of impressionable young people.

Read Huffington Post commentary