COLOURISM SERIES – EPISODE 2
🎵 Beauty Is Only Skin Deep 🎵
In the 1st episode of COLOURISM SERIES we reviewed Afropolitaine La Web Série‘s third episode centered around Colourism. We also had a bit of a background of the issue at heart and we divulged into the idea of light skin privilege, light skin malaise and the Albinos situation. Today the theme will be tackled in the following way:
- Colourism through a Netflix documentary entitled SKIN
- Whitewashing & light-skinned people favouritism in movies and music
- Colourism historically and culturally
- Colourism and the (black) gaze
- The buzz of Colourism: Radio 1 Presenter Maya Jama , 🇺🇸 RNB singer Dani Leigh + Signed starring 🇺🇸 Rapper Rick Ross
British born Nigerian actor and producer Beverly Naya started the campaign #FiftyShadesOfBlack leading to her infamous Netflix documentary SKIN. She stated to Allure Magazine (2020):
“#FiftyShadesOfBlack was created to teach women about self-love. […] The documentary has created more awareness in Nigeria; people have become a lot more vocal, inquisitive, and honest about their battles with Colourism and skin-lightening creams.”
🎵Beauty Is Only Skin Deep🎵 Take 1 🎬
SKIN (Netflix Documentary) Produced by Beverly Naya
An intriguing production about skin lightening and Colourism, saw the light of day last June : SKIN. In SKIN produced by and starring herself, Nollywood actress Beverly Naya explores the impact of Colourism, and consequently, the impact skin lightening products have on society. She candidly explores the idea of beauty or rather black beauty.
It was a wonderfully produced documentary, I had an educational crush on. Not only did I learn a lot, but I was amazed to hear so many people from different backgrounds and expertise take on this issue. Once again, so rarely tackled in the media in such a cleverly orchestrated way. This documentary is a must-watch whether you don’t know about the subject or want to learn more. It’s emotionally, scientifically and empirically charged. Kudos to the @TheBeverlyNaya, for such an epic demonstration of what Colourism entails.
As Beverly pointed out, black beauty is linked to skin, because it is the first thing you notice on an individual. How powerful. I have actually never thought about it in this fashion, but it’s true indeed. It is a statement in itself, it’s what we are, it speaks for itself, speaks a thousand words. It tells a story, people are starting to wonder where you’re from, what’s your background, it makes people wonder, daydream. It’s quite profound.
The mere term ‘skin’ is so significant, I am puzzled to why the idea of it never came to mind. So simple and yet so complicated. How intriguing, that the term speaks volumes into any existence. You can think of different skin tones, and they all have a meaning, a story, peoples. It’s fascinating…
More specifically, the term skin is attached to the idea of beauty or the perception of beauty when it comes to black skin.
(I cannot begin to express how excited about this documentary, a journey through black skin, I was. It was so invigorating 🤩)
The testimonies aggregated a series of emotions similar to an anthology. There were great stories in the sense that as a black woman, living in the UK, and having lived in France, I could easily relate to.
I could also identify the ‘becoming’ that came with ’embracing’ black beauty like British-Nigerian Actress Diana Yekinni expressed.
Significantly growing up in a predominantly white society, you would want to fit in, sometimes you would be the “only one” there. God knows it’s not easy, so it’s only natural for us to feel other and want to be other.
For Beverly herself, it was about self-confidence to be strong enough to not want to conform or change for anybody but herself. Self-worth is key to transcending all of this negativity, just listening to ourselves and not comparing ourselves to others, especially when it comes to aesthetics, even more so naturally unattainable beauty standards.
There isn’t only one way to be beautiful, beauty comes in different, shape, form AND colour?
Why should the way we perceive beauty be proper to one culture or one set of rules, that would imply changing one’s appearance? How do we reprogram our thinking to be in tune with the melanated people we are? Do you guys know the price of melanin?
The danger with thinking we’re not enough is directing ourselves to alternative products that can have adverse and irreversible effects on our skin.
Indeed, Beauty Strategist/Motivational Speaker and Board member of Make-Up Ghana, celebrated by Forbes Magazine as “the woman to know for diverse beauty”: Eryca Freemantle, as prosperous as she is, courageously admitted that she used to lighten her own skin as a youngster, due to lack of self-confidence. Using various forms of dangerous products such as steroids or “products to treat acne”.
I concur Eryca’s position that parents raising their kids into knowing they are beautiful and loving their appearance is essential to a healthy mind. Essentially in black households, where our parents usually are not the best communicators, or have issues with communication altogether.
I am not saying all parents are like this, I am saying this a recurrent theme in black households, especially African ones. We need to educate ourselves and our loved ones to encourage communication, to avoid mental health crises as much as we can. Especially when the issue at hand starts at a very young age…
🎵Beauty Is Only Skin Deep🎵 Take 2 🎬
SKIN (Netflix Documentary) produced by Beverly Naya
In the documentary, the little girl interviewed by Beverly clearly expressed her dislike of dark skin when she said that she was “black but not black-black”. She further states that she likes the way light brown /mixed raced complexion looks, it “feels more special”.
We need to deconstruct the very construct of black beauty, as it negatively affects our youngsters, encouraging them to reject the very essence of blackness, that is all shades of blacks and not just the selected ones that are the closest to whiteness.
Mudi Yahaya, Conceptual Artist and Photographer brilliantly shared the example of film stock based on white skin which reacts differently when exposed to darker skin tones. That in itself is appalling and demonstrates how even in photography, we are being segregated or instead relegated to the lesser quality outcome, only due to the absence of appropriate, material to make us look our best. We are rich in melanin, alright.
I was mesmerised by this discovery, it seems even the tools we used daily, are against us.
Obviously, If they are based on white skin, it’s because they created it for themselves to look good. That is really revealing.
He told Beverly that “the film itself was not based on the black skin” this is so telling.
Furthermore, and even more interestingly he indicated that this issue is even more profound than we think: Indeed women bleach their skin for economic reasons, namely for money or better status. Bleaching one’s skin is telling of social class, that means you can afford to purchase such products, and you can attract wealthy suitors and be perceived as well-off. ‘If you were poor you couldn’t be this way‘ and on the other side, some people’s maintaining their dark skin, make a point of keeping a unified and beautiful skin with the right products, to prove that they are wealthy, otherwise they couldn’t afford such products.
It’s very much a class issue. You are either rich and dark and maintain your complexion or are ‘inadequate’, looking to be richer and attracting rich pretenders by bleaching your skin.
Or they want to be perceived as “hip” therefore they will purchase the most expensive cream on the market, which happens to be a bleaching cream. Therefore, buy it, and call it “toning”. Desperate times, call for desperate measures, right?
Global Analyst Report prediction in 2009 that by 2020 the skin bleaching industry would be worth $10 Billion would rise to $23 Billion. Indeed, the numbers speak for themselves: according to the Global Analyst Report prediction in 2009 that by 2020 the skin bleaching industry would be worth $10 Billion would rise to $23 Billion.
This is undeniable that we have reached a point of no return. No one should shy away from calling it a Public Health crisis. Indeed, and I stand by it!
The quicker we recognise it, the better equipped we will be against it all.
Nigerian Socialite and Entrepreneur Babrisky is confident she is successful in life due to her bleaching her skin.
She believes that dark-skinned women are so insecure about light-skinned women that they too bleach theirs, which is in a way, taking advantage of their misery to create a profit with her own bleaching cream range.
Don’t hate the player, hate the game! She is looking out for herself, why should we be hating? I must admit I hate the whole idea of creating profit out of Colourism really, but Africa’s poverty as she put it, forced her into getting her own money this way.
Indeed, as the Street Seller said, the male gaze is more attracted to light skin, which is why she uses such creams. But like the second Seller regrets her “old skin” tone, Beauty Entrepreneur Leslie Okoye reminds us , it’s also the way people use it irresponsibly comparable to “addicts”. They need to stop gradually for the skin not to be permanently damaged by the products.
Veteran Nollywood Actress Hilda Dokubo, (herself light-skinned) reminded us that the likes of Kate Henshaw, Genevieve Nniji, Omoni Oboli successful dark-skinned women, never used any such cream. They are beautiful and highly successful, and “if they succeeded ,than anybody can!”. Some food for thought for us all!
So ’embracing’ one’s beauty, is such a long journey, it cannot be mocked or dismissed for we have come a long way.
But as much as light-skin privilege goes, the media is responsible for portraying such ideas. Light-skinned musicians, models, and actors are put at the forefront of the entertainment industry. Indeed, the highest-paid singers are Beyoncé, Rihanna and Alicia Keys for instance and dark-skinned women are often cast in movies as stereotypical “angry”, “funny”, and “loud” black women. We also can’t help to notice how African and Afro-pean Football players’ wives tend to be light-skinned, e.g. Kevin-Prince Boateng and Melissa Satta. Boateng, Emmanuel Adebayor and Charité Adebayor, Samuel Etto’o and Georgette Etto’o, I just leave this here…
So such violent reactions from both sisters (Colourism Series – Episode 1 😉) in Afropolitaine La Web Série are legitimised by the perceived erasure or lack of desirability towards dark women fuelled by the media and in real life by certain men, in particular black men.
🎵 White 🎵
Back in the day, the music industry used whitewashing to make black singers more appealing to mainstream (white) audiences. Prominent African -American entertainer from the ’40s until mid-’60s, Nat King Cole was often forced to look lighter than he did to please, his record company and TV managers; therefore he would use foundations to look white. For those who know this virtuoso, he was rather dark-skinned, so to make him look like he put a white face on, made a travesty of his set as one of the best singers the world has ever had.
Music industry professionals would first deliberately steal songs from black writers and make white singers sing them, without paying the blacks or paying them just one-off low fee, royalties would be out of the questions. Chadwick Boseman‘s fantastic performance and Viola Davis superb acting in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom illustrated it perfectly.
So, it appears more recently record labels literally had to face the music (pun intended!), as they could not break the law anymore by stealing from black people, and force people to do white face anymore.The most logical option for them was to hire light-skinned singers more palatable to a mainstream audience. It’s sad, but it’s true. And that is what ruled the industry ever since.
Moreover, we can certainly draw from our own experiences as cinephiles and TV show’s addicts, that demonstrates how similar to whitewashing (it is a bit of that, to be honest) this is.Colourism in that industry is translated into the casting of light-skinned people rather than dark-skinned people. Even when the story the movie is based on, or the person they are honouring is dark-skinned.
For instance, I’ve noticed how Kerry Washington was made to look darker with a darker shade of foundation, supposedly to look more ‘believable’ as Dictator Idi Amin‘s 4th wife, Kay Amin in The Last King Of Scotland (2006). It didn’t shock me then, but watching it now (after binge-watching Scandal and Little Fires Everywhere, big fan right there!) I can tell her appearance has been altered quite a bit to play this role. Wouldn’t you say so?
Bearing in mind that Kay was dark-skinned, why hire a light-skinned actress when there are plenty of capable actresses with dark complexions namely Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Angela Bassett, you name it… Now I totally understand that actors often need to change appearances to play specific roles, but why go into all this trouble of putting make-up on and altering somebody’s appearance so much, when you can hire a dark-skinned actress directly? Even unknown, an aspiring actress could have been a great choice also. That would have been her life’s role that could have made her career.
No one can ever forget the choice of actress for the unforgettable Nina Simone’s biopic Nina (2016) I name: Zoe Saldana! I reiterate? Why, oh, why?
She even said she had to put a fake nose to become Nina, seriously? Viola Davis would have been perfect for this role. It’s so ridiculous that Zoe Saldana apologised for playing the late songstress, a choice described by soul Singer India Arie as “tone deaf” casting. (Actually, she could have been the one for the role too 💁🏾♀️)
This whole thing is completely ridiculous, Zoe Saldana is mixed-raced a skin tone so far out of touch with Nina Simone’s so why her? Is it her acting abilities? No offence, but I’ve seen better performances… Is it her notoriety?
Others could have taken her up to the challenge? This clearly shows Hollywood’s favouritism towards light-skinned women in movies. It looks like black women are being erased or whitewashed in films. Maybe in a few decades people might think Nina Simone was light-skinned, after watching the movie. There is a consorted effort, to lighten Hollywood, and the music industry as a whole, making it extremely challenging for dark-skinned women to make it, or simply have a shot. Where does this light-skin supremacy come from?
A little bit of history…
🎵Earth Song 🎵
Historically, from the French-speaking perspective, Colourism started in the French colonies, more specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa where the colonisers’ complexion rhymed with wealth and pleasant social status; which in turn gradually became a fixation for locals, who then favoured lighter over darker skin-tones. Indeed the brighter the skin the closest to the white complexion, therefore the more appealing. The collective imaginary incorporated white beauty fetishisation, which fuelled the white advocacy supremacy, favouring light skin tones. We are a product of our environment, and because this was well rooted in our customs, we perpetuated it. Indeed, we have been colonised, but we still are mentally enchained to these Euro-Centric ideals of beauty, as if we had no confidence in believing in our own ideals of beauty…
Likewise, in the USA during slavery time in plantations, lighter-skinned slaves had more favours than their dark-skinned counterparts, they were authorised to work inside the Master’s house. A small change of social status, compared to the inhuman conditions and suffering that came with ‘working’ in the cotton fields. Colourism is as old as time indeed…
🎵Say It Loud -I’m Black And I’m Proud 🎵
Additionally, the stigmatisation of dark-skinned people was evident in the 1920s-1930s. Black women were bombarded with ads in magazines and newspapers, encouraging them to lighten their skin to become more attractive and successful. Ads for bleaching creams were so prominent that Marcus Garvey‘s UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) intended to fight these anti-dark-skinned campaigned through pageant championing dark-skinned women. Still, society via its institutionalised Colourism/racism with such outrageous principle as the “brown paper bag test” orchestrated by churches, nightclubs, sororities, (the code was such that, someone would hold a brown paper bag next to a person’s face, to determine if they were not black enough to join or enter. If the person looked darker than the bag, they wouldn’t be admitted if they were lighter they would be). How appalling! Thank you, @Hollywood_Ric, for your research on black culture.
🎵 My Skin 🎵
Realising that skin lightening products had been here for over a century baffles me, but it’s also a wake-up call in the awareness, that the unlearning process will be challenging. Even today, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, you can see billboards pressing women to lighten their skins, with products packaging displaying words such as “whitening”, “whiter”, so it is very present in our media landscape. The only way out is to change people’s attraction to a fairer skin by featuring more dark-skinned women in beauty campaigns as Indian Beauty journalist Vasudha Rai suggested in Allure Magazine in 2020, she explained: “Fairness cream advertisement always show the model going five to seven shades lighter. If they are serious about change, they need a dark-skinned model who doesn’t become fairer by using their cream.” To deconstruct such myth that the fairer, the more beautiful, brands should broaden their product ranges to cater for dark-skinned women. Having good skin means having healthy skin, not fairer per se ☝🏾
Similarly, magazines featuring light-skinned women were believed to sell more; therefore, it became a qualifying trait. To be honest, it may have been this way in the 20s, it sure is the same today. I must admit, we have come a long way with darker-skinned women on magazines’ front covers, but it is still a rarity. When it stops shocking me, it will mean we normalised dark-skinned people in the media. It. We have got a long way to go, but it is changing. At least Essence magazine features all skin tones nowadays and not solely lighter models or actresses.
This “social-ladder” mentality lives on to this day, which explains skin-lightening products’ success in Asia, the Arab World and Africa. It goes even beyond the social aspect, it reshaped aesthetics and desirability.
Let us explore Colourism in other cultures…
🎵 Jai Ho 🎵
In South-East Asia, for example, light skin is also privileged due to its perceived proximity to whiteness and wealth. Indeed, India is a prime example as it is pertained by a Caste system, inherently colourist at its core, whereby nobility stayed indoors when maids were kept outside. This is well illustrated by the Bollywood industry dominated by light-skinned actors. The Guardian criticised Bollywood in their article India’s unfair obsession with lighter skin in which Art Directors and Make-up Artists practise of consistently lightening actors’ skins for them to appear lighter for the camera, was condemned by the paper. You go The Guardian💪🏾🇬🇧‼️
In the Arab world and in North-Africa in particular, soon to be brides are instructed to stay indoors to stay away from the sun and be as light as possible on their wedding day. In this region, being olive-skinned may be the norm; however, it is deliberately discredited, which explains skin-lightening products’ success. Companies capitalise on people’s insecurities over appearing to be darker. Professor of Sociology at the University of Cairo, Hassan Ahmed said to AFP: “What is rare is expensive. Since Egypt, like in the rest of the Arab world, olive skin is the most common, we prefer white skin”.
It’s important to note that although it is a taboo, the Arab world also enslaved black people before Westerners for 13 centuries with no interruption, with over 17 million victims as opposed to 11 million from transatlantic slavery, according to Senegalese Anthropologist Tidiane N’Diaye. Their relationship with black people is tricky, even down to the word used to define “black” which can be translated as “slave” in Arabic. This is quite apparent, in the story of Sudan, which has a particular mix of Arabs, blacks, and mixed-race people, which may create tensions and identity crises. Yes, Colourism is rampant in Sudan. The famous #BlackLivesMatter hashtag was not really trending there. Actually, racial slurs are common, especially online towards black people commonly referred to as “slaves”.
A famous black Sudanese football player married a white Sudanese, and it created such an online raw of insults and threats. Indeed, Sudan has been dominated by an Arab Elite and blacks are marginalised in society, which is evident from the scars left by the country enslaving black people. Streets have been named after slave traders, and slavery only came to an end in 1924, creating tensions and anger from the Arab elite based in the North and blacks were usually in the South. A superiority complex is palpable from the Arab elite, which helped perpetuate Colourism to the detriment of darker-skinned people. These racial tensions are at the heart of their civil war that divided the country into two: South Sudan (inhabited by blacks) and The Arabic speaking Sudan. Today things are better, thank god there is peace, but racism and Colourism left indelible scars to the Sudanese nation.
Etymologically, the Arabic word Krèle use to describe a black person is a derogatory word in Essence and clearly racist. Still, it’s widely used in France and is even adopted as slang for a person of Afro-Caribbean origin. This negative connotation of the word stems from centuries of enslavement of the black men in the Muslim-Arabic world, explaining Colourism’s history in that region.
🎵 Education 🎵
In his book Black Skin, White Masks (1952) Frantz Fanon already condemns the negative psychological impact of colonisation on colonised people, creating irreversible adverse effects on the colonised. Indeed, we can’t help the notice the self-loathing and inferiority complex of these communities. The lighter, the better, the darker, the worse. This emulation of white supremacy is registered in our minds on a deeper level. We passed it on from generation to generation, hence why it is still practised today. We need to break the cycle!
🎵 All About Reggie 🎵
This brings me back to Dear White People (Netflix TV show, based on the novel and the film of the same name by Justin Simien, controversial due to its name but well received by critics and beautifully written), (I know, I know, people who know me will be tired of hearing about this, but hey I’m a die-hard fan, what can I do?) when Joelle and Coco both accused their love interests respectively Reggie and Troy of claiming their light skin friend Samantha White straight away, without paying them any mind ; after she eventually rejected Reggie for Troy and was ultimately used by Troy to gain votes from Sam‘s association on campus. The idea of being second best, is not something we enjoy to adhere to, but one needs to question themselves, is it really what it seems? Did Reggie feel attracted to Sam, for her features, for her personality, or is it the whole thing? At the end of the day, he talks about how she’s “all he sees” or hears. Isn’t he talking about the whole package?
One can only wonder….
Joelle and Sam are totally different though, Sam is unapologetically black, loud, and she’s obviously dealing with her own demons, when Joelle is proud to be black, shy, but comfortable in her own shoes and sweet. Maybe that fire is what Reggie was after in the first place. Now is it really the look or the personality that attracts him to her. I guess we’ll never know, what we do know though, is that Sam is the one he saw first and the one Troy was “quick to claim”. There is a sense of Déjà vu when it comes to black men in particular and white men too for that matter, preferring the light-skin girl , this is real. Some black men like to be with a girl that is not “too black” in her attitude and looks: the one that does not wrap her hair at night, and doesn’t ask for money for her wigs and nails, the one with less attitude, the one they can pass their fingers through their hair to. The one that goes to the gym, because apparently, black girls don’t! (Yeah, I heard that!) 🤷🏾♀️
Some men actually think light-skinned women are more beautiful, even if it’s just their preference, what we should really ask is where it comes from and why? Is it because they have been conditioned since a young age to like such features? Probably. Because really beauty is everywhere in any shape, form or shade. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if we can’t see with our eyes anymore and we could only see with our minds? If we have been conditioned, does it mean we can’t grasp the idea of beauty in dark-skinned people anymore? Could it be due to the lack of representation of people with a darker complexion in the media?
🎵 Element 🎵
HBO TV show Insecure is another success depicting the normalisation of dark-skinned women on TV, and not side-kicks actual leads and Issa Rae is both the creator of the show and the main character. She explained to Vanity Fair in 2020, that she wanted to portray black people in a normal light, performing actions as simple as “washing their hands”, because we don’t see it on TV. So even for people who don’t have black people in their circles, it would be an excellent way to be introduced to the life of Afro-American women in LA and shedding light on casual racism in American society.
When she pitched her show to a few channels and directors, she had negative feedback, such as they wouldn’t think it would be a hit because they didn’t know that it was the way the public wanted to watch black people on TV. Really? Did he mean, people would not be happy to see black people as they see white people acting normally, not being thugs, loud and stereotypically grotesque? I think they were projecting! They were not ready for it, but guess what were sure were! Bring it 🙌🏾
Kuddos to Issa Rae for giving life to so many complicated yet normal and relatable characters. I must admit I do love to hate Molly, though! And of course, the choice of music is on point, one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. The beauty of it all resides in the will to promote up and coming as well as prominent artists in the RNB/Soul/Alternative genre. With excellent music consultancy from the best in the game, e.g. Solange Knowles.
🎵 Firestarter 🎵
Last summer I watched Michaela Cole I may destroy you, and it was breath-taking. It was refreshing to firstly see a dark-skinned girl from the UK act and produce such a fantastic series, about an issue never portrayed by black women on TV and black men too: rape. It was one of the best shows I saw last year. It was amazing how, she took us through the different stages of grief, shock, denial, pain and anger. The portrayal of gay rape for a black man and how the police refused to take him seriously and even tried to ridicule his claim. I loved how they approached his case and Bella’s case so differently, due to their genders and sexual orientation stigma. A Masterpiece 🥳. I loved to see a dark-skinned woman on TV, and contrary to what mainstream media believes, a limited series or a film with a dark-skinned or mainly black cast can generate a non-negligible revenue we all saw Black Panther and the frenzy I May destroy You created.
🎵 Don’t Stop The Music 🎵
Normalised dark-skinned/ black characters are essential to ending light supremacy and Colourism as a whole. Michaela Cole understood the importance of music just like Issa Rae, giving us all the feels with a kaleidoscope of the UK music scene. It’s great to see those creators take the choice of music seriously as they realise, it is an integral part of the intrigue and the plot. As the cinephile and music enthusiast, I was in complete awe 🥰
Musically, we all saw the rapid success of Malian-French singer Aya Nakamura who does not hide that her struggle was real and even shared that music industry professionals encouraged her to bleach her skin, before stardom but she refused. It is a plague, alright. I guess she proved them all wrong when she became 2020 best-selling artist in France. She just released a single with Grime Artist Stormzy called Plus jamais which already reached 17.5 million streams on Spotify. What an ascent! Girl you’re making us all VERY proud!
Even though it is incredible for Aya, I can still count on my fingers how many dark-skinned successful women there are. The music industry needs to do more, for example, have a more diverse workforce, that will positively impact the recruitment of not just one type of people and where talent will be the motto. This way we won’t have A&R representatives telling people to bleach their skin.
This is what happened to UK Grime Artist Lionness, who even lost the will to do what she loves at some point. That is terrible!
Colourism: Talk about a Buzzkill!
🎵 Love Buzz 🎵
Colourism is creating such a buzz nowadays, that individuals feel the need to be politically correct and publicly apologise. It’s Radio 1 Presenter Maya Jama’s case when referring to her resurfaced controversial tweet of 2012 in which she mocked dark-skinned women.
In April 2012, Maya tweeted:” Dark skin bitches shaving their head expecting to look like Amber Rose when really they end up looking like Michael Jordan.” Looooooooool.”
Interesting for a woman who dates dark-skinned men, she dated Stormzy for 4 years before they split in 2019. Stormzy even commented on the resurfacing with a diffusing tweet: “They were an insult, and she apologised.” I’m afraid we need to go beyond the apology here, it’s about unrooting such bullying towards black women. And that’s when black men MUST come into action!
Even though she apologised, I would love to know where all this hate towards dark-skinned women came from? What could have given her the ammunition to say such things? All I am going to say is, dark-skinned women must be more protected by black men, to avoid such disrespect. I believe that black women are not shielded by their male counterparts enough. I am actually shocked not only by her remarks, but also because she was dating a dark-skinned man. Go figure?
We need to normalise dark-skinned women’s protection from black men, they need to step in and defend ,stop putting us down, which gives ammunition for others to attack us. I don’t hear Whites, Arabs or Asians degrade their women in front of others, but it seems SOME black men, take pleasure into putting black women down and it’s unvibrational. Check-yourselves, this misogynoir and negative energy is unnecessary. People cannot disengage themselves from stopping such behaviour from the root, stands need to be made to end this vicious circle. Staying silent when black women are mocked, harassed and abused makes you complacent and encourages such attitudes!
Eventually, Maya participated in a Podcast called Beyond Twitter: A lesson in Colourism in 2018, as an effort to raise awareness about Colourism and deter people from perpetuating it.
Last week, yet another celebrity felt obliged to apologise (or rather felt the pressure of black people’s anger, which probably means her record label made her do it!) when she took it upon herself to call herself ‘yellow bone’ in her brand new song: I name Dani Leigh. ‘Yellow bones’ is a colloquial expression to refer to light-skinned people WITH AFRICAN descent in America and in South Africa for instance . So, why the hell would she feel at ease using a term that does not mean anything to her, as she does not have any African heritage whatsoever? I mean Hello? it’s not because you are a successful RNB singer, that you can deliberately appropriate one’s culture. That is not ok! Somebody has got to let her know! She thought she could 🤪 This incident actually involuntarily shed a light on Colourism in the music industry and so did the following!
Man was last week Colourism week or what⁉️
Last week, a video of famous rapper Rick Ross and producer The Dream auditioning for the reality TV show Signed, in which an aspiring singer clearly CANNOT sing, but is catching all the attention from music moguls in the room! Isn’t that Colourism at its core? I dare they to call it preferences 👀 Colourism in a nutshell indeed! What do you make of this??
🎵 Video Killed The Radio Stars 🎵
In 2018 Dark-skinned Girls On Colourism/Sisters BBC3 was broadcasted on BBC3 and Youtube, starring three dark-skinned women discussing Colourism in different contexts.
COLOURISM ON TV 📺
One of the girls described women in urban music videos to be mostly light-skinned, and if there were darker girls, they would be “hard work”, or the “one being dumped”. More than that, there is an apparent dichotomy between good looking lighter-skinned women and foul darker-skinned women, visually it’s quite striking. This reminds me of the Malcolm X biopic (1992), when he discovers the definition of the word “black”in the dictionary, with only derogatory signifiers. Black is awful, harmful and dirty. It is so revealingly.
“Growing up in the stuff I could assume, the light-skinned girl was always the main character, and if there was a dark-skinned girl she was usually the sidekick, and she was usually quite angry, and I think even now that’s still an issue, for example in Dear White People, we have the typical light-skinned main character and the dark-skinned sidekick” In Martin (1992) also☝🏾
Likewise, American TV would only allow black women to show off their natural curls only when in turmoil or in a mental episode. As if their kinky hair was not good or sexy enough. On Shondaland, Olivia Pope and Anna-Lise Keating would only be natural, when in a crisis. Texturism is definitely real, why when on top of their game could they only wear wigs, why not their own hair? Isn’t it acceptable enough? Texturism has to die with Colourism!
Colourism & Bollywood 💃🏾
“There’s this one film I remember where the guy thinks that she’s Gauri chippie which means she’s white, she’s white… They’re repeatedly saying that, oh she’s beautiful, she’s very lovely. When I saw that I was shocked, I was like Woah, you hear about those things but you don’t actually see it, and when you see it, you’re like Woah.”
Sadly whiteness is put on a pedestal in South-East Asia too, like a cult that people emulate as much as they can. The fetishisation of white beauty incarnate.
Colourism in Cosmetics 💄
Back in the day, there were not enough offerings on foundations for darker-skinned girls, and if they’re where they would be out of price. Today, we have much more choices from Fenty, Mac, Nars, Sleek, UOMA you name it! However, make-up artists still manage to not find the correct shade for darker women, as if they don’t come equipped. It’s rather insulting, especially in this day and age with all the resources at our disposal and them being professionals. Shame on you 😡‼️
Colourism and Dating 👩❤️👨
Boys would be quite attracted to “tanned” looking girls, they prefer a girl to be “yellow” (Dani Leigh we see you!) People would openly shame women for being dark in the South-Asian community. The stigma surrounding dark-skinned people is still very much alive in our communities. In different contexts, even in the younger generations. It is so deeply rooted in our mantras, that we reproduce white supremacies ideologies without even realising it.
Moreover, British-Bangladeshi married YouTubers Bilal and Mima are persistently abused because of Bilal’s darker complexion (BBC, 2019). They admit that Colourism is a reality in South-East Asia, where whiteness is their element of comparison. People would insult him and call him names, just because of his darker skin tone. Colourism is rampant in different communities, but how do we stop it?
🎵 Give Life Back Tom Music 🎵
If you’re still sceptical about the whole issue, why don’t you take a look at the father of the most prominent black entertainer alive: Matthew Knowles (Need I, introduce him? Beyoncé and Solange’s father of course! Music mogul with extensive knowledge and experience of the industry spanning over 25 years)
In 2018 he condemned Colourism because light-skinned people have more advantage when making it in the entertainment industry than dark-skinned people. He openly claimed his daughter was more successful thanks to Colourism and that no dark-skinned stars had really broken through in the past decade. (I do believe though, that with the recent success of AfroBeat, and artists such as Tiwa Savage and Aya Nakamura surfing on that trend, this preference for light-skinned women is starting to be overturned, time will tell, but it looks promising 🙏🏾)
Indeed, Matthew Knowles spilt the tea on Colourism and on how he is confident Beyoncé’s rise to success was not only due to her talent, but to her lighter complexion also, as opposed to darker-skinned Destiny’s Child band member, Kelly Rowland. The latter deserved more of a success, according to him.
He declared to NBC News that:
“There’s another 400 that are of a darker complexion … that didn’t get a chance at Top 40 radio,” Knowles said. “They got pigeonholed that they were black and in the ‘black division,’ and they got pigeonholed in just R&B, black radio stations.”
Knowles believes that communication will be the key to facing this deeply rooted issue in our community and society as a whole. He is hopeful that the future is bright and that we are shifting in the right direction. Indeed, the rise of darker-skinned singers and actresses coupled with the Black Lives Matter movement’s impact can only be the positive change we were longing for ✊🏾
In 2018, Malian-French singer Aya Nakamura shared to The Fader and French newspaper Le Figaro that: “People used to ask to lighten my skin, or apply a lighter shades foundation to reach a larger audience. […] I really don’t want to complain, but I’m not going to lie either. To get to where I am right now has been difficult. It’s difficult when you’re a black woman in this industry.”
As a community, we need to eradicate such thinking, before expecting others to apply such principles. It starts at home, I’m afraid.
Ray BLK won the BBC’s Sound of Music in 2017; however, she never topped the charts in the likes of Jorja Smith or Raye who are both light-skinned. The music industry still has some work to eradicate Colourism and foster equality and diversity for a fairer and more prosperous industry. I do not deny their talent here, I do love Jorja Smith she is gifted, and her voice is really unique, but in light of all these light-skinned people on top of the charts, one may wonder: Did their skin complexion had anything to do with them being signed and pushed to stardom? Talented yes, however privileged by record companies thanks to their features too. It is more difficult for Ray BLK or anyone with her skin tone to break into the industry, as Matthew Knowles pointed out. However, the trend is changing…
Now i shall love and leave you for the time being. Next week we’ll talk about something i trust you are all very eager to divulge into: Misogynoir coupled with:
- The skin lightening industry in context : Les Grandes Gueules French Talk Show review
- Colourism in literature : Toni Morissons’ The Bluest Eyes review
- The resurgence and rise of Dark-skinned singers
- Bollywood and Nollywood’s take on Colourism AND MORE!
See you next week and please continue to SHARE, LIKE and COMMENT on here but also on socials. Let me know what you think in the comment section!
In the meantime, now it’s question time! ⬇️
Is Colourism a myth or a reality? Join the conversation on Initials S.P. It’s episode 2 TIME, from my Colourism series. FOLLOW, SHARE & COMMENT!! 👇🏾#colourisminbollywood #colourisminthearabworld #colourisminasia #colourisminafrica #colourisminthemedia #colourisminthemusicindustry #fairandlovely #colourismisreal #yellowbones #colourisminsigned #danileigh #rickrossTweet
2ND blog entry: Colourism series, episode 2
A tough one ,was is not? What do you guys think about Colourism? How did you like this episode?
Let me know in the comment section!
Thank you for reading AND See you next week for episode 3 💋
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💟
This was a real eye-opener. Some great research that opens up extensive debate surrounding the notion of the term “colourism”…
Hey! Finally got round to reading your series. I didn’t realise you’d written 4 dissertations!!! A lot to take in,…
A very good read!!
Indeed, the real issue is the fact that they want to force their ideas of beauty on black women especially…
Wow! A lot to unpack here. Even though the era of “the big chop” really took off and allowed many…