Colored People's Time 5: "Free Your Mind" Public Service Announcement (Skin Lightening Cream)
Colored People's Time 5: "Free Your Mind" Public Service Announcement (Skin Lightening Cream) (November 14, 1968)
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Summary: One of the creative aspects of the show is the incorporation of "Public Service Announcements," that take a satirical look at Black identity. This "Free Your Mind" clip tackles the issues surrounding the use of beaching and whitening creams. Since the late 1800s Blacks who were unhappy with their skin complexion or thought they could change their social status by lighting their skin, engaged in the process of skin bleaching. Critics of the process argue that internalized racism and self-contempt have caused such individuals to accept degrading and negative images associated with Blackness, thus causing them to over identifying with Eurocentric standards of beauty. While skin whitening is one the most obvious forms of negating Blackness, discussions have also focused on hair styles, chemical processes that are used to straighten hair, colored contacts, and cosmetic surgery that alters characteristically African features like the nose and lips. Skin bleaching creams are still sold and used today.
Original Concept and Purpose
The Detroit Public Television show Colored People's Time (CPT) first aired in 1968 as the first WTVS show programmed for black audiences. The show followed Black Journal, a nationally syndicated program funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The creators of CPT envisioned an entertaining and educational news magazine designed for television. The show contained poignant discussion concerning economic, political and social conditions facing black Americans, featured local artists; and served as a clearinghouse for community news.
One of the primary objectives of the show was to provide an alternative to the objectification and negative imagery of blacks on television. In the original funding proposal the show's creators noted, "blacks are either invisible or stereotyped on TV, and their actions and statements are continually misunderstood and misinterpreted. The program will further attempt to correct these distortions by emphasizing the positive aspects of black and other ethnic cultures, and by allowing their entertainers to conceive and direct their own project and performers."
From the beginning, the show modeled the principles of corporative economics and self-sufficiency. The creators were not only concerned about raising social consciousness but also envisioned a show that would provide economic and employment opportunities for black workers and a place were local black artists could showcase their talent. The show's creators knew that managing the intricacies of the show was the only way that they could ensure authentic representation of black culture.
Images of positive Black people were important on two fronts: first to counter negative stereotypes mainstream society had of Blacks; and second to instill pride and cultural appreciation among Black Americans who had internalized racist ideologies about their beauty and self worth. Thus the shows importance extended farther than community building on the local and national level but also sought to nurture a positive racial identity for Black Americans.
--To show the black community as it really is, using the language of the black community.
--To provide a voice for black groups in the community that would not otherwise be heard.
--To communicate a wide variety of valuable, practical information to disadvantaged persons.
--To provided a balanced view and interpretation of current news events, especially as they relate to inner-city viewers.
--To inform inner-city residents and the larger community of historical and contemporary contributions of indigenous minority groups.
--To create an atmosphere in which the black community could freely air its hopes, protests, aspirations and goals.
--To provide workshop opportunities in media production for black persons.
For a complete description of American Black Journal production materials, see:
ABJ Finding Aid on this site:
Or visit the electronic ABJ finding aid at MSU Libraries, Special Collections:
ABJ finding aid record in the MSU Libraries catalog:
ABJ production materials have not been digitized. Please contact MSU Libraries, Special Collections to access the contents of this collection.