Cue the Michael Jackson jokes. At the Latin Grammys last week, Sammy Sosa's skin looked several shades lighter than its usual hue, and now everyone want to know why. The former Chicago Cubs star says he's simply undergoing "skin rejuvenation," and insists that the photo from the award's ceremony makes his skin look much lighter than it really is. Pundits aren't buying it. Instead, they're speculating about whether Sosa was intentionally lightening, or "bleaching" his skin. What's behind Sosa's paler shade:
  • The History of 'Rejuvenation'  At PBS, the Tavis Smiley blog breaks it down. "Historically, deeply entrenched racism and discrimination conditioned many people of color to believe that dark skin is bad," they write. "Lighter skin (and straight hair, and blue/green/light brown eye color, and thinner noses) are good. So when Sammy Sosa goes off and rejuvenates his skin, people don't just laugh and say, 'I think you overdid the rejuvenation! LOL. Lay off the skin treatment, Sammy.'"
  • Blame The Dominican Republic  At TrueSlant, Bill Stephney says it could simply be Sosa's alleged steroid use. But given the baseball player's heritage, Stephney says his lighter skin is likely intentional. "Those familiar with attitudes related to race in the Dominican Republic, would understand how he may have become a mental victim to the cultural norms of a Caribbean island, infamously known for marginalizing its darker inhabitants."
  • Could It Be Steroids? Vitiligo?  The New York Post's Oren Yaniv wonders if Sosa is "channeling Michael Jackson." He theorizes. "Is The traditionally tan Sosa, 40, was photographed jarringly pale last Wednesday at an awards event in Las Vegas, leading some to wonder if he had Jacko's vitiligo condition. Still others suspected his creamy complexion is tied to purported steroid use."
  • Give Me A Break  The Root says Sosa's transformation suggests he may simply not be comfortable in his own skin. "And the green eyes, Sammy? Come on, buddy. COME ON."