Ghanaian-born actress Ama K. Abebrese is hoping to fight the stigmas of colorism in a big way with a new campaign. Abebrese, who featured in the critically acclaimed Cary Joji Fukunaga film Beasts of No Nation, helped to launch the “Say NO to Skin Bleaching/ ‘Toning’ campaign.” She hopes to educate consumers and to help quell the ongoing epidemic of skin bleaching in Ghana.
Abebrese admits that convincing her audience that black is beautiful in all shades, is a daunting task,
Sometimes I feel like we’re fighting a losing battle. I don’t know how much damage has been done to us. But to be honest, and this is just me, I’m not speaking for anybody, but I do think there are some Africans who clearly do not like dark skin. I think my own feeling about it is that a lot of black people hate blackness, they hate the blackness of their skin. We have certain notions of the ideal level of blackness. It should be a bit more caramel-y.
In addition to billboards and commercials, Abebrese travels to schools to get the word out against skin bleaching, she often works with other public figures and medical doctors who can explain the medical risks associated with skin bleaching. She’s even managed to get the Ghanaian government on her side.
The Ghana Food and Drug Authority contacted us and they said they’d been working on getting hydroquinone banned, and when they saw our billboards they were so happy. When they saw the celebrities on the billboard, they were happy that someone was taking the initiative. They had been working on it before, it was in their plan. The man who spoke to us, he was driving and he saw our billboard and he had to stop his car and he was like, “Wow.” The Ghana Food and Drug Authority are very seriously about banning hydroquinone and other forms of skin lightening. Hydroquinone has been highlighted, some of the dangers.
And it looks like her efforts have paid off. Abebrese estimates that Hydroquinone will be officially banned in Ghana come August of this year.