……Or Shade-ism, as it’s also known by, is discrimination based on one’s skin tone. This particular type of discrimination tends to be more intraracial (within a race) and not interracial (between different races).
My first thought when I began my research into this, was that Colourism was an issue among just the black race. However, I have now come to know that it actually exists among the Asian race as well.
Growing up in Ghana till I was about nine years old, I was quite aware of my rich dark brown skin tone. Many relatives adopted the nickname “black beauty” for me. This actually served to make me feel really special and beautiful.
When I came over to the UK, that’s when I became quickly aware that the darkness of my skin made some people within my race, uncomfortable. I moved over to the UK when I was nine years old, and from that age till my late teens I was constantly taunted about my skin tone. The insults and rude remarks came both from children and adults alike. I quickly developed a lot of insecurities in the first few years of my arrival. Watch my full story here.
I remember one particular incident which remains with me until today. I went to pick up my younger brother from his primary school, when one of his classmates stopped me on our way to the bus stop. In-front of other school children, the younger boy began to throw insults at me. I can’t remember all that he said, but the one I can remember was :
“Do you not scrub your skin properly when you bathe?!”
By this point, I had already heard several rude remarks about my skin tone from various people, but this statement, especially coming from someone younger than me who was actually a black boy himself, hurt.
Unfortunately this statement, along with many others, is the reality that many darker skinned people across both the Black and Asian race face on a regular basis, even today in 2017.
We see the influence of the media on this constantly, where darker skinned actors in particular tend to be given a more demeaning, poor and violent role in movies, whereas the protagonist in various roles tends to be the lighter skinned actor.
Of course, we are all aware that the roots of this issue stems from the days of slavery, but unfortunately it has managed to imprint a way of thinking that seems to be ‘OK’ in the minds of the very race that till today fights against interracial attacks, but unfortunately largely fails to deal with the debased mindset affecting it’s very own community.
You can see the truth of this spanned across various countries such as Nigeria, Togo, Jamaica, South Africa, Mali, and various others, where large percentages of women use bleaching or skin lightening creams to achieve a lighter skin tone, even if these products are extremely harmful to their health. BBC
Yes, fighting against interracial attacks is EXTREMELY important as first and foremost, no one race is better than the other, but I truly believe that dealing with intraracial issues is a step all so easily missed and considered by many as minute, whilst it is the very thing that enables us to stand together and move forward better as one.
This has given birth to a passion inside of me to create an awareness of this issue, as well as to create a space where darker skinned girls like myself who are faced with the thoughts that they are ugly, worthless and not ‘enough’, can be empowered and shown that their skin tone is indeed BEAUTIFUL and they can make the most of their natural beauty!
Even though it may seem like a pretty small contribution on my part towards dealing with this issue, I am sure it will benefit and change, if at the very least, one person’s entire world, as it would have done mine had I come across something like it growing up.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this, please leave your comments down below.
Speak soon. X