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21 Jan 2013
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… And when the children saw in picture book that only white children could play together, and only the colored could play together, they asked, “Why?”
I have the opportunity to volunteer every month at my daughter’s class in Kindergarten. And today, I had an opportunity to read to them a children’s book about Martin Luther King, Jr, who he is, and what he did.

Martin Luther King Jr.

The worst parts of the book (and I admit I felt somewhat embarrassed) were the depiction of these:

At the bus station in Durham, North Carolina (Source: Library of Congress)

A street scene near the bus station (Photo by Jack Delano/sourced from the Library of Congress)

white and colored people
A cafe near the tobacco market, Durham, North Carolina (Photo by Jack Delano sourced from the Library of Congress)
I was embarrassed because I did not know how to explain to them why, a long time ago, people segregated races according to colors. I am Asian, and have not experienced of this, although I have known by literature from my school in the Philippines that this was going on in the history of the U.S. I brought myself back to being a 9-year-old girl, a little bit older than 5 and 6-year old kids so I could explain to them in a childish but real way why people did this a long time ago, “Because they were silly, we all know it is not supposed to be,” I said. I answered this question based from their angelic questioning of “WHY?”

WHY? As in asking why did people do that? Why can’t children of the same color play together?

I. Was. Overwhelmed.

I am glad that these days, we have become so humane to raise our children to live, love, and laugh with people of all races.    I am proud that living in this country, they respect a colored president. 

However in the Philippines, native people too are so obsessed with whiter skins until now, they consider them to be more beautiful – and used by women to allure rich men to marry them. This was passed through from Spanish occupation, when people with lighter skin are rich (mostly Spanish people) because they always stay inside their homes and didn’t need to work hard under the sun and get their skin tanned and scorched (most are Filipinos they turned into slaves). Now if you are a white person and wish to get tanned there, I warn you – the stores there are flooded with skin whitening products. Skin tanning products can be hidden somewhere, you may need to ask a sales person. I suggest stay under the sun but protect yourself with sun protectant, otherwise you may get serious sun burn.
After the Spanish colonization, our race was significantly mixed with their blood, I too have their gene other than that of Malay, Chinese and Japanese. My husband is white, our daughter is super mixed. She has blonde cousins, and while she herself dreams to be a blond someday, her white relatives want to have their skins tanner. Now it’s down to – we never love enough of the beautiful things we already have.

… or so I thought…

… in the Philippines, world-based companies are popular in marketing whitening products, including dove, olay, ponds, nivea and more. Ironically in the U.S., Dove company promotes an ad for self-esteem. Is Dove sincere to its ad? Or maybe the self-esteem ad is just a social marketing plot?

And somewhere flooding over the internet a dove advertisement image from a magazine:

Meanwhile, at present time, in the Philippines, whitening ads are popular. Below is an Olay whitening ad:

Note: The model is actually born with lighter skin tone. I tried the product for curiosity. It gave me hard-core pimples and I never had a rosy white pair of cheeks with it. I got a rosy pair of brighter cheeks when we lived in Seattle where weather was cold and less of sun. All without the help of this pond product! So if your skin is naturally brown/dark brown/black, forget about it. If it is not white or light, who cares? It makes you spend money, and no company gives you money for having a lighter/whiter skin. Yet if you think it does, then go ahead. Just remember, what matters most is YOU, the inner YOU.

Enough of the drama. Here is more ad stressing that whiter skin is a rich person’s skin (a.k.a kutis mayaman). If you want to have a rich person’s skin, use this:

And another:

Source: Frustrated Sosyalera (

And their new promotional ad which says "Puputi ka rin" or in English "You will become white too"

puputi ka rin oda

And for gays:

Source: Association for Asian American Studies Conference (

Another whitening product for Filipino men:

Source: Breaking News Trends (

Note:  The picture on the left means that with 10% lighter skin, you are more sociable.  On the right, a future father-in-law is flaunting a young man to be his future son-in-law for having a lighter/whiter skin (as it says in the bottom:  A LITTLE WHITENING MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE)

 Avon in Asia is also endorsing a 'whitality product line' called Anew 360º.  Dr. Dr. Uma Santhanam’s statement: “What makes Anew 360º White distinct from other whitening products is the 360º  whitening technology, which enables the skin to whiten and glow from within. The efficacy of the product can be immediately seen after one week when 70% of our women respondents testified a dramatic improvement on their skin's whitality.”

I showed these facts to my American husband who loves tanning under the sun.  He shook his said.

Shall I say the subtle act of racism in Asia is commercially driven?  Honestly, I feel ashamed how Filipinos get drawned to lighter/whiter skin and flaunting it in billboards that I consider an insult to those who cannot afford to buy whitening products, giving them pressure.  I think THIS IS SICK AND IMMATURE.  I frankly am not comfortable to go back there and answer another question from my daughter... WHY?

Anyway, thanks Martin Luther King, Jr., for bringing all the races together.
Unfortunately, it kind of still exists: 
Source: CNN (

 At least, people are getting smarter to know that colored people are human beings too; that we are all equal; who believe and created by a God whom we all know.

But thank you still, Martin Luther King, Jr., and to the modern parents who race their children to live, love, and laugh with people of all races!

And a message to my home country:  Grow Up.  There is no magic in whiter skin. It's all a fantasy! Your darker skin is a skin of beauty too.  

God made us all beautiful.  The whites, blacks, browns, reds, yellows - and the rest of colors spread to human race.  Appreciate it.  Have fun with it.  Respect is FREE.  Its prize is BIG, and it goes back to you.

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Excellent post! Informative and gives serious food for thought. Thanks for sharing on Creative Monday. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Lovely post that was very informative. I had no idea there was such a product or even a market for it. Yes thank you Dr King but wow, how sad that anyone listens to the commercials. Love who you are as God made you. He knew what he was doing and he did a good job.

that makes me so sad. I do not like it when companies tell anyone they are not good how they were made. I live in the deep south and drove by MLK, Jr's first church this morning. They were opening it up for tours. I wish I could say it was getting better, but racism is still alive and well...just more subtle than before :(

I had no idea that skin whitening products even existed! I'm shocked...and disgusted...and you're right that racism still is very much alive in this country, but I shudder to think where we would be if it weren't for trail blazers like MLK Jr. and Rosa Parks who put their lives on the line for the sake of what is right and good.

Thanks for making me more aware of this problem!