With significantly lighter skin and green contact lenses during an appearance at the Latin Grammys, baseball great Sammy Sosa has found himself at the center of controversy. Just how did this Dominican's skin go from dark brown to pallid?
The former Chicago slugger told Univision reporter Tony Dandrades that a European skin cream caused his skin color to lighten, EURweb.com reported.
"I use a cream to keep my skin smooth and soft. I apply it before I go to bed," Sosa said. "When I was playing for Chicago all those years, I was in the sun a lot for 1 o'clock games."
In addition to the cream, Sosa blamed flashes from cameras for making his skin look significantly lighter in photos of him at the Latin Grammys in early November.
"I'm surprised with the controversy this has caused," he said.
Sosa also denied that he was racist or an unhappy person and claimed that he wears green contact lenses to "try something different."
Clearly, the public isn't buying Sosa's explanations for his new skin color. The baseball champ has been the subject of insults and accusations that he's a self-hating black Dominican.
The comments left on EURweb.com are full venom for Sosa.
A commenter named Janissi wrote: "Sammy looks a hot mess! It's sad that so many nationalities hate themselves so much they'll go to any length to change themselves."
Another commenter named TGen wrote: "During the homerun record race between him and Mark McGuire, I always had a soft, sympathetic spot for Sosa since I felt he didn't get as much pub as McGuire. There was a lot of talk then about race being the reason for the publicity disparity. Who knows? At any rate, I say that to say, I no longer feel sympathy for him, I feel pity for him. Who knew he was such a self-conflicted flake?"
And another commenter name NYCsoul wrote: "Bleaching, bleaching, bleaching! Just admit it Sammy! You have a sickness called 'I hate dark skinned self and want to be as light as possible' disease. Damn nutcase!"
Commenters on RadarOnline.com weren't much nicer, saying that Sosa's "ashamed of his skin color," looks like a "clown," "freak from a bad experiment" and a "corpse," to name a few.
While I definitely prefer Sosa with dark brown skin and am concerned if he's been bleaching his flesh to become lighter, I'm not sure that attacking the baseball champ is the way to go. If Sosa suffered from an eating disorder and lost an enormous amount of weight as a result, would we be as quick to call him names and condemn him? Moreover, attacking Sosa isn't likely to change his mind about skin color. If he truly suffers from internalized racism, he needs counseling, not name calling.
I'm also disturbed that attacks on Sosa have expanded to include all natives of the Dominican Republic. Commenters have characterized Dominicans as people who hate their black ancestry and want to be white. While relations between Dominicans and Haitians are certainly rife with racial tensions related to blackness, I don't think it's fair to characterize every black Dominican as suffering from self-hatred.
Isn't this akin to someone remarking that because Michael Jackson's skin became lighter that all African Americans hate their dark skin, too?