Colourism – “………do you scrub your skin properly?”

……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

4 thoughts on “Colourism – “………do you scrub your skin properly?”

  1. I love this. It is a topic I have never seen until recently when I started to take care of my husbands sister whom is dark skinned. Before this, my experience growing up, the attention I have received and comments have been completely different so I was never exposed to it. However having my darling Michelle and being able to see through her experiences I have become very passionate about promoting self love to her. In instance recently I put a pause on her wearing hair extensions as I wanted to show her the value of loving her own hair. The result is that she now loves and embraces her mane. However the other day she said to me “sister Stacey our neighbour really does not like my hair, she says I need to put hair extensions in now, and that she does not like my hair like that.” Me and Michelle both agreed that whilst extentions are nice they are not her hair and this is her hair. Now she is wearing it as it is she is slowly beginning to understand what it is and as I say to her we embrace what we have been blessed to have and make the most of it by taking care of it. How dare someone basically tell you that you should not be yourself. I have experienced other cases of colourist with her but one thing I can confidently say that she is now confident in her skin and challenges others. One child at school said she has big lips and she said to them “I know and I love then like that” the other children did not snap back. What you are doing is definitely creating change and I’m thankful to your blog for that! God Bless you x


    • Oh wow Stacey, firstly thank you for taking the time to read and comment :).

      I love the fact that you are teaching her self-love. I think that is such an important foundation to build in a child as it becomes the basis of how they function in life.

      I am all about making the most of what we naturally have and I am definitely sure God did not make a mistake to give us the hair, the skin colour we have as well as the features we posses. I believe once we all know and love ourselves, it makes a whole difference to the way everyone else sees and responds to us. We ooze of self assurance.

      This I have learnt, is a daily practice of self belief and going against the doubts and fears of what someone else might think, but it is constantly going against these that brings out the best in each of us!

      Once again thank you for sharing!


  2. Wow I love this post. It so scary how peoples words can affect you. You just need to know how to filter out certain comments and think positive about yourself.


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