What the case of Sammy Sosa says to both Blacks and Latinos

By David J. Muhammad -Guest Columnist- | Last updated: Nov 30, 2009 - 10:59:46 PM

What's your opinion on this article?

Sammy Sosa arrives at the Latin Recording Academy Person of The Year event in honor of Juan Gabriel on Nov. 4, in Las Vegas. Mr. Sosa says a cosmetic cream he uses to soften his skin is the reason for his lighter skin tone. Sosa says he has been using the cream for a long time, and combined with bright TV lights, it made his face look whiter than it really is. (Inset) Sammy Sosa during the time he played for the Chicago Cubs in 1998. Photo:AP/Wide World Photos
( - Sammy Sosa's recent public appearance at the Latin Grammys, revealing his significantly lighter complexion along with green contacts and permed hair has caused uproar within the Black and Latino community. It's tempting for U.S. commentators to blame “Dominican Racism” for this scandal and likewise attraction for the Latin American media to mock Sosa for his new appearance. These responses are more of a smokescreen covering a much deeper issue than the Sosa incident itself.

The heart of the matter is the system of power that produces an inferiority complex among darker skinned people, a system that originated long before the arrival of Whites in Latin America.

Sosa's alleged use of skin bleaching creams (he still denies it, claiming it's just a facial cream from Europe), has become a hot topic of controversy in U.S. and Latin America. But the mockery and humor on the matter covers up the prevalence of bleaching cosmetics and the overall rejection of blackness throughout the darker world. How much blame can be placed on the media that now mocks Sammy Sosa, a media that upholds images of whiteness in virtually all of its programming? What about the Church, who used the beliefs of Black and Indigenous peoples, painting God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints white, tricking them into forced submission and spiritual enslavement?

What about in our education systems where our history was rewritten? In Mexico it was Jose Vasconcelos in 1925 with “La Raza Cosmica” (the origin of the term ‘La Raza', a new race distinct from its Black, European, or Indian roots); In Puerto Rico it was Manuel Alonso's 1845 novel “El Jibaro” (originally a mixed race person, reinvented as a White folk hero); or in the Dominican Republic, Manuel de Jesus Galvan's 1879 novel “Enriquillo”, a glorified story of Indian opposition to Spanish domination used as a rallying piece against Haiti's occupation of Hispaniola. All display the erasing of Blackness in the creation of “Latino” culture and the mindset of shame associated with it.

Let's be real! How many Blacks and so-called Latinos have been told by our parents not to stay out in the sun too long “pa' que no te oscures” (so you don't get darker), or being talked about for being “narizón” (big nosed), having “pelo malo” (bad hair), or for having “bembas grandes” (big lips)? Sammy Sosa's new appearance exposes the dirty secret that most of us as Latinos bear; a self-hatred of our Black ancestry. We disguise this by lifting up European or idealized Mestizo identities, but the fact is many of us will claim anything but being Black.

Historically, for every shade of coloration, a new name or identity was invented to distance ourselves from Blackness. Terms like mestizo (mixed), trigueño (wheat colored), jabau (washed white), replaced harsher racial terms such as Negro (Black colored), or prieto (dark skinned). These weren't just descriptions; they represented power in a society that had established whiteness as dominant. How many of us have been told to “mejorar la raza” or “better our race” by marrying, dating, or procreating out of our color or shade? To this very day, the primary racial categorization in the Dominican Republic is “Indio” (Indian), only distinguished by the terms “claro” (white) or “oscuro” (dark).

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us of the origin of all races as all coming from the Black man and woman, only being manifest through a process of grafting the lighter from the darker, the recessive from the dominant that took place 6,600 years ago under the guidance of a scientist named Yakub. In this process which used the strict mating of genetically compatible human beings, a lighter shade of people was made, eventually this genetic trait was isolated, and the descendents of this group became what we now know as “White”.

White scientists are now bearing witness to what Allah in the person of Master Fard Muhammad, the Great Mahdi, gave to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, evidenced by a study at the University of Copenhagen whose findings appeared in the February 1, 2008 edition of the UK newspaper The Register. The article stated, “A University of Copenhagen team has identified the gene which around 6-10,000 years ago underwent a genetic mutation in one individual who eventually gave rise to all blue-eyed people.” There is no doubt that all life originated from the Aboriginal Black peoples of the earth.

This problem of self-hate is a mockery of God and his creation of the original peoples and is described in the New Testament as Leprosy, a condition that leaves white lesions on the skin. Just as the Jesus of the Bible healed the leper, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan are now healing the darker peoples of the earth of the inferiority complex to this 6,000-year-old baby on our planet. In Minister Farrakhan's brilliant defense of Michael Jackson, who like Sosa, had been maligned for his change of complexion, he noted “You saw Michael's color going from Black to White, that's the outside journey. But the inside journey Michael was going from White to Black”. Let this serve as an example of the journey we all must now take in removing both the mind and the way of our former slave masters and colonizers.

(David J Muhammad can be reached at [email protected] and