Do you know any fair skinned person who once had dark skin?
You could tell by the dark patches on his/her digits, elbows and knees; regions too stubborn for the peneration of the skin bleaching cream s/he had used.
I don’t know any, but one person that comes to mind is Michael Jackson.
During the 50 years Michael Jackson spent on earth, he changed from being a black man to looking like a white man. The changes he underwent were metamorphoric, and lots of people questioned the motive behind the changes. An observer with little knowledge of Michael’s past could put up a strong argument suggesting Michael died a white man. The observer would be right if the evidence she presents suggests Micheal altered his genetic make up to bring about the changes we witnessed.
On a related note, a study published in Psychological Medicine suggests gay men share a common gene. A gene that makes them gay. An interesting question that could result from this discovery is: could this gene be altered to transform a gay man into a straight man?
While this question is blind to the need for the preservation of an individual’s identity (something is s/he is entitled to). Some people – straight and gay – are bound to ask.
But, if we go deeper into the problem, a pressing question would be: why should anyone want to alter something encoded in his DNA – when it does no harm?
In 1993, Michael Jackson revealed on Oprah Winfrey’s show that he was born with Vitiligo (A skin condition that causes lose in skin pigmentation). He said something interesting:
“It [the changes on my skin] is something I cannot help. When people make up stories that I don’t want to be who I am, it hurts me. It’s a problem for me. I can’t control it”. [emphasis mine]
The statement reveals the value Michael possessed about the preservation of individual identity.
I believe this value is shared by a majority of people on earth. So much that anyone perceived to change anything in his make up (such as his skin, eye colour, breast size) is considered an anomaly for carrying out the offense of tampering with his individual identity.
It’s disturbing how we propagate adages like “be yourself” “you are unique” “there can never be another you”. Yet, go on to support policies that further the opposite of these things, causing millions of people to live their lives in dishonesty, shame, and pain. It’s a no brainer that these millions would want to nip the bud that causes them to stand out; it feels better to fit in. There is little care if this bud is embedded in their DNA, or if this DNA was designed by God; as long as changing it takes the pain away.
Adaptability is a beautiful human trait I deeply admire. When it comes to social encounters, we do creative things to cope as a means to adapt.
Michael had looked to skin bleaching agents – very effective ones – to help him cope with his skin condition. He figured it was better to have the rest of his skin blend with patches that have no pigments, rather than wait his entire life for a solution and live with what would be dark patches over white skin.
The way we cope with individual problems is dependent on the environment we find ourselves, the tools available to help us adapt and our creativity in applying the available tools.
While some – as it regards to gay issues – choose to write, design or dance as creative outlets others may contemplate destructive habits as far reaching as suicide. And, with the burden associated with living, contemplating this destructive end can be easy.
In the end, Micheal Jackson didn’t alter his gene to change his race. In a case where he did, what should be called to mind is the destruction inherent in the anomality of such behavior. If we preach individual preservation in adages like be yourself, then we must portray actions that support this end. We must look into ourselves and be aware of the signals we send to others. Taking care that such signals does not lead them a destructive path. Be Kind.
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