Addressing racial wealth gaps

Our Commitment

Report date
July 2021
Learning Log

It has been a great experience doing my Bush Fellowship and focusing on my leadership development and ways I can sustain. Through the journey of my leadership development, I have been focusing to increase my knowledge in many different areas both formal learning and informal. The fellowship gave me opportunity to learn about the skin-lightening products and marketing trend here in the US but also globally and I have learned a lot so far by visiting some of these places and attending conferences, interviewing business owners, doing observational study of the marketing and testing products. What surprised me the most was how colorism is so deeply rooted in many cultures globally and how some of these communities cannot articulate the root causes but they know the problem and the daily effects of colorism and the use of toxic skin-lightening products impacts the women in their communities. It seems many communities in the US and globally did not identify the root causes and so these colorism practices became so embedded in cultures. My fellowship is amazingly helping me learn these issues in a deep way where I’m getting the whole picture of the root causes and the lack of knowledge and support that is available to these communities. Our world is interconnected in a way that products that some of the East African and Latinx women in MN use are products recommended by their relatives and friends that live in other countries. These products are mailed to those women from their country of origin and there is zero regulation happening in the USA to check these products as they come to the USA. This is one of the huge reasons of why part of my advocacy focused on making changes at the Congress level and as result I helped passed a legislation that funded FDA to regulate and provide public education on skin-lightening products last year. However, these efforts and advocacy has to continue every year since there is structural racism in government agencies which impacts them being responsive to issues that impact communities of color.

As I continue to interview those that sale the skin-lightening products, I have seen many things that surprised me about their thinking and how they want to continue promoting colorism globally so they keep the ideologies of capitalism. They make new products each week and introduce into the global market and they especially target the most vulnerable populations. Recently I have attended Dubai Derma, the largest Middle East, Asia and Africa conference that focuses on skin health, cosmetics and wellness. At this conference I have met more than 1000 cosmetic companies which all of them manufacture skin-lightening products, many of these companies at this conference they were introducing new products into the market and in particularly their target products distributors were dermatologists. This was shocking to me the amount of toxic skin-lightening products that dermatologists describe to their patients as a treatment because of they either are distributors or have share in these cosmetic companies. I have also met new cosmetic company that just produced skin-lightening products that are made out of Cannabis (CBD), which is a new ingredient to the skin-lightening market and there is no data that shows the health effects.

My fellowship allowed me to explore and expand my learning in all of these areas as well as develop my leadership skills in these areas. I will continue to learn, transform my leadership skills and share this important information I’m learning to scale the impact.