Sama der, My skin

Mina la Voilee or Mina the Veiled is an MC whose very presence challenges the stereotypical view of the hip hop MC as a hypersexual male. Even her name, which is a reference to her faith, goes against what one may consider the standard for an MC. Mina la Voilee is what I would consider a socially conscious MC, one whose lyrics explore social issues and attempt to promote change. This is evident in her song “Sama Der” which means my skin; it aims to raise awareness about the harmful effects of skin depigmentation amongst African youth as well as make them aware that having more melanin does not equate to being a person of lesser worth in society.

In researching the context for this song, I read up on the nature of skin bleaching in Africa and its roots in slavery, colonization, and the equating of lighter skin with not just beauty, but increased socioeconomic status as well. The women who use these products, for the vast majority of people using these products are women, are not just doing so to feel more beautiful, they are doing so with the belief that lighter skin will provide them with more opportunities such as better paying jobs. In order to fully eradicate the use of these products, it is not enough to educate the public on their harmful effects and ban their use. In addition, eurocentric standards of beauty, as well as the systems which uphold racist and colorist practices when it comes to economic opportunities need to be dismantled as well.

Mina la Voilee in Sama Der speaks of her own experience with skin depigmentation and coming to respect her natural complexion as beautiful as well as successful. When she promotes the idea of “Black is Beautiful” she brings her former experience of believing otherwise to her message, making it more impactful. This song can resonate with all black women, regardless of where on the continent or in the diaspora they are located, who have ever questioned their self-worth because of racist standards of beauty where they live.

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