COLOURISM SERIES – EPISODE 1:
🎧 ‘Afropolitaine Oh…’ 🎼
“Colourism is the prejudice against people who have a darker skin tone – and/or the preferential treatment of those who are of the same race but lighter-skinned.”
— BBC (2018)
Welcome to my Colourism series, which will address Colourism’s subject in society, the media, and from various perspectives. Episode 1 will be exploring:
- The Who & What?
- Colourism through the lenses of one of your favourite dark-skinned actresses
- Introduction to Colourism in the French media
- Afropolitaine La Web Série episode 3 (Trois soeurs/Three sisters) review and Colourism
In the meantime, i invite you to watch AFROPOLITAINE LA WEB SÉRIE- EPISODE 3 :
TROIS SOEURS (THREE SISTERS) , the very first French TV show to expose this issue.
First of all, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year 2021! (I know I’m late, but it’s still January and 2021 is young, so hey, what the hell?!) May it be filled with happiness, joy, success good health in abundance. Be blessed.
This topic actually took me a long time to finish, as there was surprisingly enough, so much to cover, and to give you the best version of my work, I took the time it needed to flourish. I mean BUSINESS! Here goes; I hope you like it. Happy reading, and please share, comment, and like 🙂
The WHO & WHAT?
The poignant normalization of Colourism in the world, in ex-colonized nations, in particular, that is to say, the Black, Asian and Arab communities and amongst their diasporas, has surprisingly and unanimously become somewhat a taboo. Wait, what?
As a matter of fact, the denial and silence governed by this issue, coupled with ideas, ways, and beliefs of what is considered beautiful or desirable, chiefly based on Euro-centric beauty standards (Some may differ…), has become the basis for a perceived preferential treatment of light-skinned people in the media and in every-day life, to the detriment of dark-skinned people. Some people disagree with its existence or simply believe we ought to look at the bigger picture for our communities to be bonded and not divided.
Colourism has become a hot topic, especially in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement’s resurgence that shed light on racial injustices worldwide. What is particular and very intriguing with this problem is that it’s internal to a community. Unlike racism, it can discriminate against people of the same colour, but a different shade. It does constitute some type of discrimination, simply because of the favouritism based on skin colour.
Indeed, Colourism can be described as a social hierarchy based on people’s skin tone, favouring people with a lighter complexion. It constitutes racism in a nutshell: Discrimination amongst the same community of people, based on their degree of darkness or shade, and society. Heavily influenced by the theory borrowed by white supremacy discourses, inherited and enacted by non-whites and whites themselves. Because at the end of the day we live in a white man’s world, or at least a world powered by white people, and with their lenses we as a people perpetuate what appears to be self-loathing and anti-black/dark behaviour.
Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyango’o stated that “Colourism is the daughter of racism” in “a world that rewards lighter skin over darker skin.” (BBC, 2019) She revealed that she felt the effects of Colourism first-hand, as a dark-skinned girl, especially since her sister is lighter than her and was praised for her beauty and consequently Lupita always felt out of place. Indeed, Colourism can affect people from a young age on such a deep level, that they would be scarred psychologically, which would have repercussions on their mental health in the long run. Obviously, Lupita has worked enormously to gain confidence, but sadly not everyone is equipped or willing to do the work.
Furthermore, Colourism or internalized racism is much more insidious as it divides by discriminating against light-skinned people as retaliation for the perceived favoritism. However, despite its perceived significant impact in these communities, it still remains nowhere to be seen on French-speaking media landscape storylines. It seems the normalization of such a plague has been replaced by its silencing or erasure from our TV screens. But Lord of mercy, thank god for Afropolitaine La Web Série (available on Youtube and on TV soon I’ll keep you posted ;)) for portraying what constitutes the elephant in the room!
🎧 ‘Douce France, cher pays de mon enfance…’ 🎼
Now hold on, are you seriously telling me that not only does the French media landscape blatantly ignores that France has the most significant proportion of black people in Europe in their media landscape, they also pass on the idea of Colourism in France and in French-speaking films. They must be having a laugh, are they having a laugh? Right, it just came back to me that Communitarianism is as evilly perceived as Communism was back in the ’50s as French values go. That still begs the question of whether Colourism is a myth or a reality?
More specifically, Colourism is defined as “… a discrimination, generally within the same community, which differentiates people according to their complexion.” (BBC, July 2020) or “discrimination favouring lighter complexions (Le Monde, April 2018) Thus, Colourism does not die outside of the community, it is adapted to the society we live in and from there it migrates to our communities and is emulated to perfection. How it started can be traced back historically with slavery and colonialism, but more on that later…
In fact, this topic is so absent from our TV screens that it could easily be referred to as a ‘no man’s land” subject. Hence the reason why we are bound to recognize the genius of Afropolitaine La Web Série‘s showrunners Soraya & Aline Milla for daring to tackle this rather uncomfortable issue and denounce it intelligently, like never before in the 3rd episode – Trois Soeurs (Three Sisters).
‘Afropolitaine Oh …’ Take 1🎬
Double culture, Double trouble?
Episode 3: Trois soeurs (Three sisters)
The episode starts with sisters Janis (Tracy Gotoas) and Yvoire (Manda Touré) reminiscing on them teasing their little mixed-raced cousin Lisa (Lisa Teixeira) due to her lighter skin tone, comparing her to famous Malian and Albino singer Salif Keita. Mean girl action? Come on now, really?
The girls are in for a shock when they realise how beautiful, and all grown up their little cousin has become and how glamorous her life is or seems to be at least…. But it’s only on the surface, as Lisa reveals how atrociously scarred she had been, due to her cousins’ bullying. She mentioned going through therapy and taking prescribed drugs to alleviate the pain of being born with a lighter skin complexion than her cousins.
⚠️ 🎞 BONUS: Afro-pop Nigerian-British Singer TBaze divulges on Albinos in Nigeria later in the interview section, along with other participants about Colourism as a whole, in the last episode of the series, so stay tuned 😉
And that’s not even the most shocking revelation! After street Vendor Rigoberte (Patricia Milla), enters the bar to sell her skin-lightening products, Lisa requests some products to darken her skin, which made everyone burst out laughing. She was obviously distressed from her cousins’ teasing, which made her feel insecure and incapable of entirely fitting in either with black or white people. Bar Owner Cédric worsened the situation when he told her how lucky she was to be light-skinned, that she had a complexion to die for, which eventually caused her to depart suddenly.
Rigoberte even down-played her trauma, when she referred to it as ‘white people’s problems’. Again, doubling down on her mixed heritage and complexion, a black woman would not seek help in turmoil. This is very much a case in point, as black people and Africans, in particular, do not encourage therapy, they would just be expected to suck it up.
This implies that Lisa is not black enough, because black women are too strong to go and seek help for mental health issues, you see. They hustle, don’t have the time or need for such support, help themselves, raise their kids, focus on their marriage, husbands, and careers. They don’t have time for mental episodes, and if they experience them, they internalise them.
In that respect, Lisa is not a black woman or black enough, her white heritage comes out, by only revealing her issues. We need to normalise mental health issues in our communities, especially in Africa. This vicious circle must stop, and we need to encourage talking and communication to help each other, that’s the only way out.
Eventually, as a new ‘hybrid’ generation, mixed with two heritages, as Afro-Peans, we are responsible for changing mentalities around mental health and communication. We need to take both cultures’ good sides and influence each other into becoming better human beings with an open mind and freedom our parents or elders lacked. We are two cultures rich, and we need to make it worth our while. Because no matter how we want to deny it, we are both. And so is Lisa, she is both white and black, and she should focus on fitting in with herself and not compromising. She should embrace both heritages. Another topic another post…
‘Afropolitaine Oh…’ Take 2🎬
LIGHT SKIN PRIVILEGE ⁉️
Episode 3: Trois soeurs (Three sisters)
This episode perfectly illustrates the issues at hand: Colourism breeds the idea of ‘light-skin privilege”, but hypocrite people purposely choose to ignore that Colourism can also be perceived from a light-skin suffering perspective. Who said that only dark-skinned people ought to be the only victims of such discrimination? Lisa’s mental health proves it.
She was deeply affected by her cousin’s teasing, she not only started therapy (thank goodness, it’s always good to seek help!), she even contemplated becoming darker to be more accepted or rather to be accepted at all cost by one group of persons, her dark-skinned cousins and anyone else for that matter.
And that is another thing, they all laughed when she requested skin-darkening products because it would be inconceivable to want a darker skin, right? How on earth would someone want to be dark? That’s unheard of! This is quite disturbing that only lightening one’s skin is an acceptable practice. This in itself contributes and represents the matter in question, that the lighter, the better, due to whiteness. Why else? Cédric even told Lisa she should be happy with her complexion, that her skin is flawless. He does not even begin to understand how wrong this sounds.
This reminds me of cultural appropriation when people are quite happy to emulate black people’s features or habits, but no one is there when it comes down to real issues. Indeed, everyone listens to Rap/R’n’B’ predominantly Black music, wear braids, big hoop earrings but when it comes to issues such as black people getting killed (before the impact of George Floyd’s death/BLM marches although it did die down, and the cops who killed Breonna Taylor are still free…) and in Africa where Congolese soil resources are being stolen by significant corporations in complicity with governments.
The Franc CFA (soon to be Eco), the currency France forced its ex-colonies to adopt as the “only price to pay” to be freed from colonisation, is still in operation, as if all of its ex-colonies, remained colonies since the 1960s. This is still not making the headlines and did not create an outrage!
So black culture is pretty cool, but it’s just THAT, cool. We don’t get involved in anything that has substance or disturbs the status quo, because who cares, right? I’m just saying…
…Anyway, we can even see the contrast between Cédric the Bartender stating such absurdity with Janis and Ivoire getting agitated, completely disregarding their feelings or their presence. Absolute nonsense! His behaviour is typical Misogynoir, or some men, particularly some Black men’s habit of gaslighting black women and using derogatory terms, and colourist discourses to harass dark-skinned black women. But more on that later…
Lisa is completely lost. Even though, one might view it as only teasing or might not understand Lisa’s viewpoint simply because she is light-skinned, think again, this is racial-discrimination too!
‘Afropolitaine Oh…’ Take 3 (and that’s a wrap) 🎬
The Albino question and Misogynoir ⛔️
Episode 3: Trois Soeurs (Three Sisters)
I wanted to touch on another point here; also, the stigma surrounding Albinos is Africa and in the diaspora, is to be taken seriously. Albinos have been mistreated for centuries due to their skin condition and skin tone, that is to say, the absence of pigment in their skin hair and eyes, causing them to look too light-skinned, practically white.
In certain countries in Africa, they would be thrown in rivers, which is linked to the idea that they would be affiliated with witchcraft and demonic blood. Some people would even use them as sacrifices as their condition was attributed to the devil’s work. As it was unknown or incomprehensible, they were systematically shunned and banished. Even today in Ivory Coast people would kidnap them to offer them as prizes to get rich or have good fortune.
Besides, the same idea of lightness bringing wealth and privileges leaves on, Albinos are used due to their skin tone, which could bring positivity to someone’s livelihood. So, for Janis and Yvoire to make fun of their cousin by comparing her to Salif Keita, is rather evil when you think about how Albinos are still treated on the continent.
It’s interesting to see that even though they are killed and sacrificed, there is always the idea that whiteness is the key to happiness. It’s twisted…
Between 2000 and 2016, the United Nations reported 75 Albino deaths in Tanzania alone. It’s somewhat ironic that people would bleach their skins, but would persecute Albinos even though their skin is often what people want to achieve with those chemicals. What does it say about us? Abusing people because they look different, isn’t what we accuse others of doing? Let’s take a good look in the mirror! Lord, help us!
On this lovely positive note, i shall leave you and see you next week for The Colourism Series: Episode 2 about:
- Light skin privilege and the media
- White washing
- Colourism historically
- Colourism in other communities : Asians and Arabs.. AND MORE! So stay tuned! Next week, is the week you don’t want to miss out on some invigorating reading! SEE YOU NEXT WEEK! In the meantime, it’s question time! ⬇️
JUST DO IT!
2ND blog entry: Colourism series, episode 1
A tough one ,was is not? What do you guys think about this theme? How did you like this episode? What about, Afropolitaine La Web Série and its review?
Let me know in the comment section!
Thank you for reading AND See you next week for episode 2 💋
Is Colourism a myth or a reality? Check out Initials S.P. Colourism weekly series for an overview of Colourism from different perspectives. #50shadesofblack #skin #blackisking #pandemic #blackwomen #colourismTweet
Phew, you made it! Well done! If you like this post, check out my previous post! Down here 👇🏾 AND see you next week for episode 2 of the Colourism series 👋🏾 LIKE, SHARE AND DISCUSS💟
Thank you so much, Jonathan. I’m glad you enjoyed it and that it resonated with you that much. I think…
Thank you ever so much 🥰
[…] indeed absurd to not realise that in 2021 this constitutes misogynoir. Extensively written about in episode 3 of my…
Your blog is amazing 🙂
Fascinating read AL! As someone who grew up in a predominately Caucasian country, I’ve received quite the education in reading…