The Strange Case of Sammy Sosa’s Skin

I’m a big baseball fan, which I’ve mentioned before. As such, Mark McGwire’s admission this week that he was juicing is a depressing development, even if it’s the least surprising news since the observation that rain can get you wet.

McGwire will always be associated with his fellow power hitter (and probable steroid user) Sammy Sosa, who retired a few years ago. Like most pro athletes who hang it up, Sosa has more or less kept a low profile. Still, when he did pop up recently, it was in alarming fashion. Compare his complexion in the two photographs (try to ignore his wife’s cleavage):

Yes, the guy is several shades whiter. Sosa couldn’t just ignore the questions about his newfound albinism, so he claimed that he had undertaken a “skin-rejuvenation process” and exceeded the recommended dosage. Think of it as the movie “Soul Man” but in reverse.

However, many in the Hispanic and black communities don’t buy Sosa’s explanation, especially since he also started wearing green contact lenses. As such, the former Cubs great has been accused of trying to bleach his skin and make himself whiter, both figuratively and literally. He has, in essence, been labeled as a self-loathing Hispanic who has adopted the “colonizer mentality.”

Now, readers with naturally fair complexions may ask several questions. For example, what is a colonizer mentality? Also, why would a person want to appear whiter, especially if everyone knows that he’s actually dark-skinned? And finally, is the movie “Soul Man” available on Blu-Ray?

Well, I can answer some of these inquiries. First, the colonizer mentality refers to the fact that virtually all of Latin America, at some point in history, has been ruled by European or North American powers. These rulers – either by direct decree or social implication – told natives that fair-skinned people were better, smarter, hotter, and more respectable than the dark-skinned heathens. A person who has internalized this mentality will therefore do whatever he can to appear whiter, even if he comes out looking like a freak-show attraction.

Sosa is a native of the Dominican Republic, where people tend to be black (remember that Latinos can be of any race). According to the blogger Grio, “there is a profound and entrenched problem of racism and discrimination… against blacks within Dominican society.” This is the colonizer mentality in action.

So is Sosa guilty of caving in to this loathsome mindset? Or is he just a dumb jock who couldn’t follow medication instructions? Only Sosa knows, and he’s sticking to his original story.

Regardless, we can all be grateful that the colonizer mentality is just an issue in Latin America. In the United States, at least, we don’t judge people based on their skin color.

That could lead to problems.

1 Response to “The Strange Case of Sammy Sosa’s Skin”

  1. 1 Henna Ramirez
    March 11, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I just read about Sammy Sosa, and remember few years ago, I made myself a question, while watching in a bar the most women in the bar were have the tan skin color, and most people that appear in tv, myself too like to have a brown color, I am hispanic, being a hispanic is a mix of races, thanks to that feeling named sex and what our ancestors fell for it, and everything start in Europe, the Spains that later dominated what today is Mexico, they were themselves mixed, because Spain was dominated by Arabians, then Spain dominating Mexico and Spains having child with Indians, they were called “Meztizos” but also they were brought with them Black Africans, at least between my Mother and Father I have some Spain, Indian, Black, Japanese blood, is the only that I know for now, so latinos we are a variety mix of races, and the question, I was wondering is:
    Why white people wants to be brown, and brown people wants to be white??
    The answer I have now is: Because we can.
    So I think nothing is wrong with Sammy, everytime I go some place I see people with contact lenses of diferent color, and a looot tan skin, I think a lot persons wants to change something on themselves sometime. I do, I can?, not.

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January 2010

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