So, Blac Chyna…
This is my twenty third entry into the 1001 challenge to write one thousand and one words everyday throughout the month of November. Peace.
This one is on request from a friend. I usually wouldn’t concern myself with this, but he’s a strong believer in the power of the written word to change minds and influence people positively. So, I acceded. After all, it can’t hurt to write something on the issue.
So, Blac Chyna is coming to Lagos to launch her collaborative “skin lightening” cream, with Whitenicious, for $250 a jar. A lot of people, for various reasons, have expressed outrage and disgust. Asides from the general prejudice against skin lightening creams, some people believe she’s taking advantage of Nigeria’s colourism problem. (Colourism is prejudice against people who have a darker skin tone, and/or the preferential treatment of those who are of the same race, but lighter skinned.)
The prejudice against skin lightening creams, is valid, as they are potential health hazards, but then, nobody forces anyone to buy bleaching products, it’s all a matter of choice, so this can’t be held against her. She’s an entrepreneur with a market; she’s doing what all businessfolk try to do: make money.
The bit about exploiting Nigeria’s colourism problem is a valid concern as well, but again, I defer to my previous point on choice; nobody is forcing anybody to buy anything, and besides, every business exists on the exploitation of problems: money, or value, is created by creating perceived solutions to perceived problems.
So, in my opinion, the adequate response to this whole show is a simple “k.” After which, you continue to do whatever it is your regularly busy yourself with.
There’s no reason to attach yourself to this news. It’s a flash event, it currently burns brightly in general awareness, but in a week, we’ll all have forgotten it ever happened. It’s publicity, show business, illusion; nothing of substance. The real problem isn’t that Miss White (that’s her surname) is coming to Nigeria, it’s that we care at all.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be bothered that people have insecurities deep enough to drive them to ruin their skins or harm their health. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care that people with fairer skins are given preferential treatment at the detriment of darker skinned individuals. Those are entirely different issues. However, that we think the problem lies with a random American, rather than the inhabitants of this country, shows our levels of awareness. That we have the time to rant against and demonize a foreigner coming to do business, shows a glaring lack of priorities.
There’s a quote that says: “A ship doesn’t sink, until the water gets in.” Nigerian society is a ship full of holes, and rather than patch the holes, we repeatedly try to fight the water. No one eliminates problems, by fighting symptoms; what smart people do, is target the source of the problem, and dismantle it.
Blac Chyna and Whitenicious aren’t our problems. Whether they deserve the outrage their getting, or not, is another matter entirely. Our problems are deeper, and older. They are issues that plague every group of humans that has come together to form a community. Where others have successfully mitigated these issues, we have chosen to ignore them, and focused all our attention on material prosperity and other fleeting wants. This issue can be summarized into one phrase: an abundance of low-quality individuals.
What’s a “low-quality individual?” an individual that falls below the standards required to create a life of meaning and value. The metrics used to judge such standards range from obvious traits like achievement, to intangible traits like character or quality of mind. Also, these metrics are not stable and vary across conditions, so while achievement might be a good metric in certain situations, it is useless in others, and other ones like character should be considered.
Nigeria’s case of low-quality individual stems from selfishness and mass ignorance caused by widespread poverty, redundant traditions, gigantic egos, superstition, and a poor educational system. When this is combined with leaders who are just as low-quality, and institutions that are either non-existent or do not function, and as such cannot guide or support these low-quality individuals, what results is a shitshow of chaos. Courtesy the Nigeria we have today.
While the problem can be easily summarized, the solution is highly complicated, well the implementation of this solution is highly complicated. In unstable societies, the solution comes either through stable citizens, or stable institutions. In Nigeria we have neither, so I don’t think the “e go better” we use to comfort ourselves, is coming anytime soon.
In the meantime, to anyone reading this, I suggest we all just try to better ourselves and grow as individuals. Try to learn as much as we can about the world around us, and our places in it. Try to expand our skillsets in all aspects: technical, social, and intrapersonal. Aim for self-mastery and mastery of a craft. Seek to embody your highest ideals and practice every day. Lastly, don’t take life, and its events too seriously, you can die anytime, better not let the temporary trees in a temporary forest steal your joy or happiness. Also, spend some time off social media, it’s a wonderful way to connect and all, but I feel like it’s also a convenient and enjoyable way to fall into mass hypnosis.
That’s all for now folks, you can return to whatever you were doing, before you started reading this. Peace.