Clean or sterilize (a drain, sink, etc.) with bleach.
As a child I hated my complexion, wished I was lighter. I wanted to be beautiful and in western culture “white” is aligned with purity, where as “black” is synonymous with tainted, evil, bad.
Funny how the word “bleach” captures the internal desires of every black person who’s been involved in such practice. Bleaching my skin was a form of cleansing, a ritual performed every morning knowing fully well that I was harming my body. Bleaching is a poor black person’s way of assimilating. It is an attempt to strip away the dirt plastered on us supposedly because of the color of our skin. From an early age -through images, films and books -the world told me I was ugly because of my dark hue. Oh heck, even my classmates in primary school reminded me of how “ugly I was”! Aside from the uneven skin I got from bleaching, deep down I did not see myself as beautiful so there was no incentive for anyone else to see me otherwise. A christian background particularly added to this sense of self-hate because although “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” John 3:16, in the literature we were fed as children god and Jesus appeared as white, so you can understand why this reassurance had the opposite effect. Thus, between the ages of 11 and 14 I bleached my skin. I suppose I wanted to wash away the filth associated with being black. In a white world, my complexion positioned me in an inferior position. My innate human desire to be part of a community led me to modify myself so as to dilute my imperfections, allowing me to feel, if not hope that, I could be one of them. My desire was to be ‘normal’. Deep down that little black boy just wanted to be white. He wanted to close his eyes and wake up with straight hair, fairer skin and a whole bunch of toys to pick from. I saw no examples of “black” people who were comfortable in their skin, no examples of functioning black families. The “blacks” I saw such as Oprah who were rich had managed to transcend the label by appearing like they were the special flowers amongst the weeds. As a child I understood none of this. My only wish was to be a little white boy with a loving mommy and daddy, who baked cookies with me, read me bedtime stories, and tucked me in at night. As a child I believed this image was exclusive to white kids and boy did I have reason to because every image I saw, every movie I watched reinforced this false belief and probably asserted it. Bleaching was a way of assimilating, like Oprah it was my way of “transcending the label by appearing like I was the special flower amongst the weeds.” When I cast my eyes back, I even attribute my choice of study ballet and contemporary dance as a way of being part of an elite art-form therefore stripping away my inferior complex. There I thought if I twirl around like the white men and women of ballet I’ll unquestioningly come across less “black”. Beauty will continue to be monopolized by white people so long as we implicitly comply with the forms of beauty we are presented with on a daily basis though cunning media channels. I feel sad when I think of the young boy I was. If we are perpetually told through sophisticated mechanisms that I am only worthy if I jump over the huddle of being black, particularly through sports or music, then we will continue to miss out on beauty, black beauty, intelligence, wisdom and above all, love. The message is “be a star or you're nothing”. The message is “you are not allowed to be average, you must be greater, work harder, because average is a privilege preserved only for white kids”. This pressure driven narrative is echoed by every black parent. As if my “black” identity wasn’t enough, nature threw me a curve boy and made me, shall I say, queer?