COLOURISM SERIES : EPISODE 4 & THAT’S A WRAP🎬
🎵 Don’t Cry For Me Argentina 🎵
Welcome to my COLOURISM SERIES – VERY LAST EPISODE! Yup, that’s where we’re at EPISODE 4 entitled ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ ‼️No we’re not going to sing along with Madonna (even though, i got to admit i am a huge fan 🥰!), rather this anthem will illustrate the following subjects:
- Latin America racial caste system and Colourism
- Ethnic and race issues in Argentina stemming from whitewashing procedures
- Conversations about Colourism to give my articles depth and insight, the cherry on the cake it desperately needed 🍰 What do you say? Excited? You bet i am! Shall we? Ready, Set GOOOOO 🏃🏾♀️‼️
I appreciate this is a rather sensitive subject, nonetheless please remember, this is a safe haven encouraging civil and peaceful conversations, any comments or reactions that will go against this will be notified. However, I do encourage constructive feedback reasonably. For this post, I have interviewed a few people to give more depth and accuracy to the matter at hand, I implore you to respect my interviewee’s point of view. Thank you to every single one of you to have agreed to answer all of my questions, you have helped me greatly 💋
Happy reading and don’t hesitate to LIKE, SHARE and COMMENT 🤗
Colourism in Latin America: Special case
We always seem to be addressing racism and Colourism, from the USA, Europe and Asia, but what about the South American perspective?
Whitening one’s skin is only one way to eradicate one’s black skin. Some governments actually performed whitewashing campaigns using Eugenics to eliminate blackness altogether in South and Central America. Indeed, after slavery, they tried to whiten the population by removing black people their communities. The most successful nation to perform this was Argentina. Have you ever wondered why Argentina so white, as opposed to Brazil and Columbia?
I’ve read about Colourism’s history in South America, and it took a while for me to be able to calmly put it into the paper. I was so appalled by the savagery and murderous behaviour, that I lost sleep at night. I eventually pulled myself together, and let’s just say today is a good, a better day to write…
Latin America’s racial caste system
Looking at this region, I often wondered about its history with black people, slavery and Colourism. In 2015, the number of African descent people accounted for 150 M and represented 40% of the poor in Latin America. According to scholar Tanya Kateri Hernandez from Fordham University, New York, their marginalisation and the disregard for them in society are still apparent today.
The Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA) from Brazil, Columbia, Mexico and Peru demonstrated that skin tone is key to social hierarchy, the blacker, the poorer and the fewer opportunities.
Additionally, in Latin American countries such as Brazil, Columbia, Panama and Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela a widespread use of the word Mulatto referring to light-skinned people. Mulattoes have better prospects and are regarded as more beautiful and from a higher social status.
In fact, Brazil is the country with the most Afro-descendants in that region. Historically speaking, light-skin privilege was the go-to government method to deny afro-descendants job opportunities if they looked too dark. The Brazilian government welcomed European immigration and deterred Africans from immigrating.
Preferential regard for white immigrants started before and beyond the abolition of slavery in 1888.
Racial restrictions were legalised by the government, in regards to immigration until the end of the 1960s. Elites believed in white supremacy and in the Eugenics school of thoughts, hence their disdain and wish to eradicate blackness from Brazil altogether.
Colourism is real in Brazil, especially when we hear stories like these. In 2013, Brazil biggest TV network Globo which broadcasted and sponsored Rio’s Carnival every year created a scandal when they went against the public’s vote and replaced the dark-skinned Carnival queen Globeleza Nayara Justino with a lighter-skin contestant of their choosing.
Historically, the Globeleza has usually been a light-skinned woman, so this could be argued that the network didn’t wish to rock the boat and appear to be “in” with the times. Since the incident, the network swore it had nothing to do with racism. But we beg to differ…
Why Argentina so white?
Today, it is very accurate, especially looking at who lives in the favelas.
Thinking about Argentina, i would recall Maradona and Messi’s football’s prowess. I realised all their teams, all the teams they ever had for that matter, where solely composed of white players. Indeed, being from a family who loves football/soccer I was really fond of checking out national teams, which I felt were frequently representative of the country’s population.
Take France’s 1998 team it was described as black, blanc, beurre (black, white and Arab), the accurate makeup of French society, more accurate than the media representation of France’s real face, if you ask me.
What I found was astonishing. Argentina may be the only country in the world that successfully whitewashed its population. Yeah, you’re reading, right! I was correct. I always wondered why Argentina so white? Especially when they had as much as Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, to name a few, Spanish and Portuguese colonists brought African slave ships into their shores.
Ethnic issues in Argentina : What is the racial makeup of Argentina?
Before the Holocaust, the Argentinian government under President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento between 1868 to 1874, to compete with America and powerful European nations, enforced an underhanded genocide that gradually eliminated Afro-Argentines. To eventually become an all-white nation, so much so that nowadays Argentines of European descents account for about 97% of the population, with nearly 1% of Afro-Argentinians making Buenos Aires’ population.
Argentines don’t seem to believe there were blacks on their soil or that they even got involved with the slave trade. Domingo has done a state-of-the-art job, erasing traces of blackness from the history, culture and all spheres of the country.
As explained by Norberto Pablo Cirio, from the National University of La Plata, on BBC News. Black people were marginalised and living in inhumane conditions.
This questionable situation worked on the President’s favour when pandemics such as Cholera and Yellow fever started to hit the region coupled with the enrolment of black men into the army to fight the Paraguayans in 1864, coupled with mass incarceration (hint to hint America!) and executions.
He could make some infamous German leader blush with such achievement. No wonder some Nazis were known to have fled to Argentina and allowed to live peaceful lives away from all the tragedy and commotion they’ve caused, no questions asked.
This is a crime against humanity that Argentina never faced justice for. This is what’s even more shocking, the fact that this happened under the eyes of the whole world, and no one ever condemned it.
It’s important to note that, the fact that no one dared to stop or condemn Argentina for its crimes, is due to the fact that the victims were black. Would it have been any different if they had been white? Most definitely.
Bravo World, yet another overlooked crime against humanity, because secretly the Argentinian government had admirers, the same ones, that believed in Eugenics and White Supremacy as a whole.
Sometimes I wonder If the universe isn’t trying to tell us to go back home, where we all started.
What’s your take on that?
In December 2018, BBC News interviewed a few Afro-Argentines as part of their news story What’s it like to be Black and Argentine? Jesica Salinas Lamadrid pointed out that although she feels Argentine, her people don’t seem to recognise it due to her mixed African heritage.
She often has to explain or justify that she also is a legitimate Argentine. She reveals that: “Argentines have always tried to be white Europeans. That’s why they think that everything black is bad. Black isn’t bad. I’m black. I’m not bad.”
Interviewed on the street, Argentines from different generation seem to think that a) no one has African descent in Argentina and b) most of them have ancestors from Europe, namely Spain and Italy. Blimey!
For me, it’s the denial and the rejection of one’s own history that is devastating.The Argentinian government needs to tackle racism by recognising what happened in the past. It starts with admission to educate their people, just like Germany did after the war. Nowadays, Germany faced its demons, and it was the first step, to ever hope to heal and learn from a past mistake, and ensure this never ever happens again. Food for thought. It’s a long road, the journey of acceptance.
Did somebody say Afro-Latinas 👀?
US /Afro-Dominicana singer Amara La Negra is definitely worth a mention she starred in Love And Hip Hop Miami (LAHHM), (For those of you who enjoy binge-watching such realness) and more recently in Issa Rae’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, (which I highly recommend it is HILARIOUS and portrays black women in all skin tones, championing dark skin women though, a melanated casting guest starring Kelly Rowland, Aja Naomie King, Angela Bassett and Lena Waithe).
Indeed, Amara 2.3M Instagram followers speak for itself as per her stardom. She is one of the fastest rising artists in the entertainment industry. However, concerning Afro-Latinas, you will hear more about Christina Milan, Cardi B, Zoe Saldana, Rosario Dawson, Tessa Thompson, Tatiana Ali, La La Antony, Mariah Carey.
Amara La Negra is quite outspoken about her African heritage and about Colourism in particular. On her Radio interview for The Breakfast Club, by Charlamagne Tha God and DJ Evy, Amara divulged into the issue of Colourism by stating: “they’ll always pick the lighter – the ones who look like J.Lo, Cardi B, Sofia Vergara – before they look at us” to what the hosts, admitted never have encountered this type of discrimination from where they’re from.
Talk about misogynoir or more so gaslighting black women, when they are trying to express themselves about something, they feel have caused them harm.
On the other hand, although it may sound like Amara is bad-mouthing light-skinned girls for getting to where they are, due to their light skin.
She really says that it’ll be more difficult for women like herself in an industry like entertainment, that upholds light skin privilege ideologies. So, no matter how hard it is to succeed, it’ll be even more challenging for women with darker skin complexions. Period.
From the perspective of a light skin person, we can fathom that it may sound like those women’s merit is only due to their light skin. Not at all. We appreciate their work and the sweat that came with it, all we are saying is that no matter how hard it is to get into the game, it will be moderately easier for them due to their complexion’s proximity to whiteness.
Trying to silence her and the others will not help to tackle the problem in our community.
Examples of Colourism: Colourism in the media
Afropolitaine La Web Série (available on Youtube and soon on TV) creators Aline et Soraya Milla intended to portray characters who looked like the average French girls, away from stereotypes. To showcase that in France, and in Paris in particular, there are Afro-French people, which is a reality. The French media landscape misses all this normalisation. Normalising black and dark-skinned people on TV is a big deal hence their choice of two dark-skinned actresses: Manda Touré and Tracy Gotoas.
Indeed, dark-skinned people are absent from the media in France. France operates Colourism in its media, so much that people tend to forget black people inhabit the country. Black people’s invisibility from the screens screams outrage.
As a matter of fact, Netflix France told the filmmakers that they “weren’t sure France was ready for this, just yet”. I wonder what Netflix US and UK have to say about this…
How backwards and close-minded of them! How can France not be ready for this, when its authentic image is reflected on the TV show, that gathered so much public and media professional’s enthusiasm, that the show France was “not ready for”, is preparing a second season!
Texturism and Featurism
Furthermore, as we must ban Colourism, we must also ban Texturism. In recent years, there has been a hair revolution peculiar to black women, as they massively took it upon themselves to embrace their curls, often described as a journey to go beyond unattainable Eurocentric beauty standards followed with the help of perms and relaxers, to help the hair look sleeker than its natural look.
This journey is so much more than hair, it’s about finally accepting one’s hair, oneself for who they really are. Since for so long, we were conditioned to hate the very essence of our hair, to comfort to euro-centric beauty standards with long and sleek hair. It is profound. So when black women are either harassed at work due to their companies “misunderstanding”, “non-acceptance” of their hair texture, or when actresses and models are told on sets to do their own hair, due to complete disregard to our beautiful crown, one must ask when will this end? What is one to do?
Now that’s where the plot thickens 🕺🏾
Conversations and interviews on Colourism 🎞 📼
RUTH – BRITISH/GHANAIAN FASHION PR PROFESSIONAL
ALAN – AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC PRODUCER
TBAZE – NIGERIAN-BRITISH AFROPOP ARTIST
SORAYA & MOKÉLÉ- SORAYA IS A BENINESE/CAMEROONIAN-FRENCH FILMMAKER AND CREATOR OF AFROPOLITAINE WE SERIES + MOKÉLÉ IS A CONGOLESE-FRENCH MODEL
LADY ZEE – SENEGALESE SINGER
ZOE- MIXED-RACED FRENCH-ENGLISH/IVORIAN WOMAN
RUDY- CONGOLESE-FRENCH FASHION STYLIST
LEE – (WHITE) BRITISH PHOTOGRAPHER
1- What do you understand by the term Colourism? Why do you think it is a sensitive subject in our community?
RUTH: “Where did I first hear the term Colourism?
Probably when I watched , read or listened to some sort of American, African American, Black-American literature, or discourse or heard some sort of discourse where they talked about being of a darker skin have some sort of a negative connotation, […] and all of this non-sense. I remember thinking, huh is this even an issue? Because it was never a discussion in my home, my mother is dark-skinned, she NEVER talked about colour, or colour hues, so I never even knew this was a concept, up until I started watching in the 90’s , ‘cause we were 90’s kids, so I started reading Ebony, Jet Magazine, black hair and beauty, and all of these kind of American Beauty publications and listening to the singers and so on and so forth So that’s when I started hearing the term , I didn’t really understand, why it was such a big deal. I always knew even as a young girl, that your quota for men to like you, had nothing to do with your colour, had nothing to do with your colour hue, it was really purely based on how you looked after yourself. Do you look fit, are you pretty, and do they want to be seen with you? I just always knew it was always going to be about aesthetics and not your colour hue. That’s where I first heard it.”
ALAN: “The term is yet ANOTHER term created by WHITE people that WE continue to use to divide us.”
TBAZE: “Colourism to me is judging or discriminating people because of their skin tone. I mean, I don’t mean skin colour, but skin tone. So you know, we have racism, where it’s races. But in this case, this is colour, the skin, the tone of their skin. So maybe they’re lighter than other people. Maybe they’re darker than other people, the tone of their skin really. And why do I think it’s a touchy subject in the community? Because you know, you have people that are of the same colour, and they see themselves as one. However, when you’re then bringing up the topic of Colourism, then you’re talking about how one person within the same race, may be having more advantage or less advantage because of their skin colour. And that’s even digging deeper and you know, that’s making people feel different to somebody else, that they would feel the same as previously. So you know, with racism you might have 2 black people talking about how they faced racial discrimination or something like that, but then when Colourism is involved then you’re actually digging deeper into ok between those 2 people of the same race, one is having upper hand than the other because of their skin tone. And to that people are sometimes in denial, or sometimes, it affects people’s feelings, you know about that. So, that’s why I think it’s a touchy subject in the community.
SORAYA: “Colorism personally for me is discriminating someone due to their skin tone, SORAYA: “For me Colourism is discriminating someone due to their skin tone, it’s to favour someone simply because they appear to be lighter or even darker. That’s how I would define it. It’s a sensitive subject in our communities, because we act as if it didn’t exist, although it does exist to some degree, not only coming from white people towards black people, really black people amongst themselves too to a certain extent, I believe it exists and we need to talk about it to defuse the issue.
MOKELE: “ A lot of black people have an inferiority complex relative to white people. SORAYA: “even relative to mixed-raced people.” MOKELE: Yeah even mixed-raced people, people with a lighter complexion, less taned (laughs). SORAYA: “ It’s difficult to articulate, even down to wording it , as it’s so rarely addressed. We don’t even know how to express it really, ‘darker-skinned’ , ‘less tanned’, that is really revealing.
LADY ZEE: “Colourism stems from racism, it’s a discrimination internal to a community, people treat each other differently according to how light they are. Certain people think that a lighter skin tone is considered more attractive. It is a sensitive subject because I don’t see why there should be a discrimination in our own community. The only difference is of a dark-skinned black men, and lighter skin, I think it’s not that important to make a difference , so much that the term colourism is to be created, having been linked to pure racism.
ZOE: “When i hear the word “colorism” i hear discrimination or even “hierarchy of who is worthy” in terms of their skin tone. It takes me back to the enslavement of the black Man , to colonisation and the catastrophic decolonization that followed. As any subject related to discrimination, inequality and History, it’s a rather sensitive issue , because it tackles uncomfortable questions, we would rather not ask ourselves, not look them in the eye. It reveals questions linked to history and Colonisation.
2- What does Colourism mean to you? How do you feel about it?
RUTH: “What does Colourism mean to me, when I hear it? It doesn’t mean anything to me, it’s a stupid concept, it’s not even real, it’s just single black women picking up an issue, because they’ve got nothing better to do with their lives… So, instead of them being married or being settled down with a man, they don’t want to accept that they’re not, so they pick up all these issues, to divert attention to that, rather than think about ‘why am I not with somebody and why am I not getting the type of man that I want’ That’s all it’s about!”
ALAN: “Even though I know it exist, I try not to feed it.”
TBAZE: “As I said in my first answer. Colourism is judging or discriminating people based on their skin tone, the tone of their skin and stuff like that. And, how do I feel about it? I feel that it’s something that exist, it’s something that should be discussed about, it’s something that underrated. So for example, I’m Nigerian, so I’ll give you an example about this in Nigeria. In Nigeria, you have definition of… I fully remember from when I was young, someone would look at somebody else who is lighter skinned and they would be like ‘Oh they’re so beautiful’, only because they’re light-skinned. Automatically, thinking back to my secondary school days, all the girls that we thought were beautiful, are light skinned. And darker skinned girls are seen as less beautiful, you know. Even the guys too, the lighter-skinned guys are always seen as the ‘handsome guys’ you know, whereas the darker-skinned guys, you know you just there. So, I feel like it’s something we need to normalise discuss. Now I’m hoping that the discussion of it, does not create more division, it just makes us understand and tackle these stereotypes. I think it’s important.
LADY ZEE: “It’s sad, there are more important and pressing issues that ‘this girl is lighter or dark, she will not be part of our clique’ it’s nonsense. We have got way more important things to focus on than this, than focus on skin tones , it’s pure racism. We call it Colourism, but it’s actual racism. It’s disgusting!
ZOE: Colorism for me is injustice, the injustice of so many colonised nations ,divided and pitted against one another. I must point out, that i have discovered the notion of colorism fairly late and certainly not at school. I remember feeling hurt, when i discovered that some people in the black community perceived light-skinned people as tools for white supremacy (kuddos to Youtube and Twitter comment sections). Even though i understand where these misconceptions come from (slavery, rapes, hierarchy) , i find these statements quite violent. It really makes me angry. Even if i could talk about it for hours, as long as there is something to explore, i realise that this issue outside of my private circles makes me uncomfortable. It takes me back to my mixed heritage, this mix that i can’t seem to choose one side from another , as i have been told to do since i was little, from my schoolmates or my family. No matter how this question was asked , the gist of it was always ” Do you feel more black or white?” It really didn’t help build my own identity growing up.
3- Have you ever been discriminated against due to your skin tone, by black people? What happened?
RUTH :“It’s funny… Have I ever been treated differently because of my colour hue? I wouldn’t even know if I had, because it’s not in my focus. So even if I had, I wouldn’t even know. I’m gonna be really honest. I wouldn’t even know. What I can say is, that I’ve always had both men and female black and white always so ‘Oh, you’ve got lovely chocolatey skin! Oh, you’ve got really good skin!’ And even that, I would say, ‘Why are you even saying that? You don’t need to say that to me.’ So, I’m being very honest, I don’t think I had… I think what I had seen a negative reaction to a dark-skin woman, it’s usually because they don’t look good! And there’s nothing wrong with that, they don’t look good, it had nothing really to do with their hue, it was to do with how they had comported themselves, so other females may have said something negative about them and men may have been put off by them. I honestly don’t believe it was to do with their hue, I believe it was to do with how they comported themselves, were they ‘sassy’ were they ‘argumentative’ , were they ‘hyper-masculine’? All these things came into play, and that could be for lighter-skin women too. So again, I don’t think it had anything to do with their hue, it was to do with their character.
ALAN : “Not that I know of. Say it loud… I’m black and I’m proud.”
TBAZE: “No I don’t remember being discriminated against due to my skin tone. I don’t remember that, but I don’t think I’ve had that experience , not that I can’t remember anyway, or not that I’ve paid attention to.”
SORAYA & MOKELE
SORAYA: “MOKELE has never been discriminated against due to his skin complexion. I personally have never been discriminated against, nonetheless as I told you, some of my friends would tease me due to my lighter skin tone, in a nutshell, I am mixed raced, therefore I don’t have the encounter the same problems as they do, that annoys me because, one friend in question is as light as I am, but they would still point out the fact that in her mind I am lighter skinned. It’s not the most pleasant thing to hear, but you can wrap your head around the fact that you actually do have certain privileges that darker-skinned girls are missing. I think, I think, I think…”
LADY ZEE: “No, I’ve never been discriminated against due to my skin tone from my own community, never felt this way, never experienced that. I don’t think. I never felt side-lined at all.
ZOE: ” Since i had to think about it for over 1 min, i would say, probably not. I never was discriminated against my skin tone in the black community. Or rather, i did not realise i was. However, i have been outside of the black community, but thinking back it might have been due to my surname, more than my appearance. i’m not really sure… I’ve never felt discriminated against within the black community, but i was made to feel guilty. Indirectly, i was made aware that i was “lucky to be mixed-raced”, therefore i could never voice an opinion. But this does not constitute discrimination, so no!
4 – The skin lightning industry has never been more profitable in the Diaspora and more so on the Continent, how do you explain that?
RUTH :“So, light-skin creams and bleaching creams do really well in Africa simply, because Big Business understand that they can pray on insecurities, they can see that ‘Oh they don’t like themselves, we can see the value in them, but they can’t see the value in themselves, so we’re gonna make a profit out of their misery!’ I’m all, I’m here for it, I’m here to support that!‘Cause if black women are THAT insecure, and that low-vibrational that people care about your hue, then so be it! Big-Business can come in and make profit on that, they fully well know the dangers with it, but they continue to do it, year after year, so why should we care, why should the younger generation of brown and black girls care? Go bleach your skin, go beach it!”
ALAN: “We’ve lost our identity. Our self- worth. We no longer know who we are as a people. If we did, these companies would be out of business.”
TBAZE: “The skin-lightening industry is getting more profitable, not just in the diaspora, in Africa as well. A lot of people bleach, A LOT OF PEOPLE! It’s crazy! A lot of people would say, ‘I’m just maintaining my skin.’ ‘I’m just doing skin care’ whereas they are actually lying, they are bleaching their skin. The issue is because , with all the technology that we have, with all the make-up, recent years we’ve seen make-up actually for black people, a lot of make-up, so there’s this perception you know, I remember when I was younger watching, there’s this cream called Joy, I don’t think Joy is a bleaching cream, matter of fact generalising now, every TV advert that I’ve seen about Beauty, growing up is white, I mean it’s light skin. It’s either a white woman, half-caste or a really really light skinned woman. So there’s this perception of… this is not just in my generation, especially the generation before as well. ‘The lighter you are, the more beautiful you are’. In any industry, the lighter you are the more beautiful you’re seen as. You want to do your filters and whatever like that. So naturally, inevitably it’s in people’s minds. So, people will start using bleach and stuff to make themselves look a little ‘cleaner’ which means a little lighter. So I think, that is the reason. And when they do do that, people say ‘Wow you’re looking beautiful!’ So that’s the reason people bleach their skin.
SORAYA & MOKELE
MOKELE: “ People bleach their skins everywhere, even in Africa. SORAYA: “ But how do you explain the fact they bleach their skin darling? Can’t you?
MOKELE: “I can’t , it goes beyond , it’s stronger than me, I just don’t understand how people can just bleach their skin.
SORAYA: “MOKELE clearly cannot conceive the idea of people bleaching their skins, he doesn’t understand how people can put it in practise. He can’t even put it into words. For me it’s everything, when you look at who the media puts at the forefronts, people that succeed, in the music industry, in Cinema a lot, I feel like one needs to be light-skinned in order to make it. Beyoncé for example, or back in the day Halle Berry…MOKELE: “Otherwise in Congo, there not a lot of people bleaching their skin, at least less than in West Africa, compared to Ivorians… But in my Country in Congo Brazzaville, men bleach more their skins than women, men from a particular tribe. Yes, back home, it’s people from the South who bleach their skins, because the ones that performed it, where coming to Paris, so when they travelled back to Congo… For then it was some sort of proof that they had been to Europe., therefore they would lighten their skins. Consequently, generations after generations perpetuated this. MOKELE: “ For women it’s a matter of getting closer to the dominant beauty standards as much as possible, and very much so due to black men preferential treatments towards light skinned women, don’t know why. Thus, being light skinned back home (Ivory Coast), you will attract more men and have more success in the dating pool, in consequence darker skinned women, will look for ways to lighten their skins to match these beauty ideals. Coming from god knows where.
LADY ZEE: “In the world we’re living in, there are people that are interested in bleaching one’s skin, because they think they would be more beautiful if they had a lighter complexion. That’s been insecure, and to not believe in yourself. It’s really successful, because these products coming from everywhere and come into our countries, and the government lets them enter our countries. So they get money out of it? What do they get from it? Despite restrictions it is very successful. There has been a law here (SENEGAL) put in place to deter people from selling or even buying such products, but it’s still very popular. It’s simple! They just want to be light skinned, like Westerners, to be more respected, liked if they have lighter skin tones. I think it’s rubbish, each to their own. Personally, I don’t get involved in this.”
ZOE: ” When “beauty standards” models put on the forefront look lighter and lighter, it’s only logical for generations who grew up with them, to want to emulate them. Meaning, that at the end we associate the image of the successful man or woman to lighter skin tones. It’s really interesting to see that this industry is also popular in Asia. What does it tell us about the concept of skin bleaching across the globe? It’s really scary.
5- What do you think of the idea, that black men tend to prefer light-skinned women over darker women?
RUTH BUTAH: “Men do not prefer, light-skin over dark-skin or dark-skin over light-skin, what they prefer is a woman that they be cohesive with, that they can get on with, that this woman is feminine, that this woman is compatible, that this woman is fit, that that woman is a homemaker, that’s all they care about. Sometimes black girls seem to forget that, light-skin, having light-skin does not equal virtue, does not equal good morals, ‘cause actually it’s more light-skin women who are very rampantly, sexually rampant, sassy, argumentative, masculinising their attitudes towards men. ‘I just want to get the bag, I just want to get the bag!’ PLEASE! So it’s got nothing to do with them preferring lighter skin women, they just look at visuals, like I’ve listed all these points before. They just look at your visuals! If you are fit, you look fit, you have a nice body, and a nice face, they’re gonna go for you, whether you’re brown, light, midnight-blue, they don’t care! It’s about how you’re visually , how you visually look. Women look at the other side, the character, we can see, ‘Oh you’ve got a good sense of humour, that overshadows maybe your aesthetic’, men are the opposite, they don’t give a toss about your education, they don’t give a toss about how much money you’ve made, they don’t give a toss about your colour hue. They just think, they just look at ‘are you good looking? ‘for THEM for their preferences, ‘do you have a nice body?’ For their preference, ‘are you someone they can get on with and build a life with’ just basic things like that. But black women never want to ask these questions, they don’t wanna think to ask these questions, they’re so egotistical about ‘Oh, he can’t possibly like me ‘cause I got dark-skinned’ ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?”
ALAN: “Some do. Others don’t. Some prefer darker skinned women. However, nobody ever has a problem with that. Everyone has the rainbow coalition in our families. The entire notion of colourism should be stupid to us. Yet, here we are. (SIGH)”
TBAZE: “Why do I think about the idea of black men preferring light skinned women over darker skinned women? Again, it’s all about the perception, it’s all about what we’ve been shown through the media, the media is the main thing. And then you see the celebrities, you see people constantly making their skin look lighter. And if you look at the top artists, in different industries the role models tend to be lighter skinned, lighter skinned, lighter skinned, so there’s that perception of what beauty is. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, beauty is a perception right? There was a time when slim women, like as slim as possible, that’s the definition of beauty but then, ‘of good body’, you know. I know I’m diversifying but I’m using the body image as an example here. And then after a while it became a thing of definition of beauty is, thick women, slim waist, big back and we can see how the trend changes, and the trend changing is mainly done by the media, beauty companies so everybody has that opinion. Back then, nobody was looking for thick women, you were looking for skinny women. And then now it’s changed, because everybody is thick, everybody you see on socials thick, looking nice, looking skinny waist, big hips…. That’s the reason why, we live in a world where people just follow, people follow what they see as their perception, without thinking for themselves. So, a lot of black guys would prefer lighter skin women over darker skin women. That’s my opinion about that.”
SORAYA & MOKELE
MOKELE: “I’ve got issues answering this questions, I can’t really answer these type of questions… Never had a preference for light-skin women…”
SORAYA: “You never had preferences? Darling for a long time you’ve been dating white women.
MOKELE: “I was dating white women, because I was surrounded by white people, didn’t have much choice. Not that I didn’t have the choice, we. Always have a choice, but there were always more white girls than other type of girls.
SORAYA: “It’s evident that in Paris Fashion world, there aren’t many black models or mixed-raced…
MOKELE: “Actually, yes but black models or fashion professionals that I’ve encountered in this field, used to date white guys. So black guys were with white women and black girls with white guys.
(RANDOMNESS 🤣: This makes me think about INXS’ Original Sin track, ‘dream of white boy, dream on black girl …’ A classic if you ask me, we miss you Michael!)
SORAYA: (laughs) “But why?”
MOKELE: “(laughs) “Don’t know really, can’t explain it.
SORAYA: “So, you would have been willing to date them but they were taken?
MOKELE: “Yeah, that’s right, we can say that.
SORAYA: “And don’t you have black boyfriends who date black/mixed-raced girls?
MOKELE: “Sure, but I don’t try and find out why…”
SORAYA: “But do you think that in their minds mixed-raced girls are more beautiful, due to the texture of their hair being more sleek, not nappy?
MOKELE: “Again, I do think it comes from an inferiority complex, they feel inferior in their mind, they think that lighter skinned people are more superior, they are more privileges…”
SORAYA: “They will have a better status in society when involved with a light-skinned girl…”
MOKELE: “Not only in the society, but through people’s eyes, their perception. That is definitely insecurity.
LADY-ZEE: “It’s relative, it’s not everyone. Some men don’t like women who use bleaching products, because most of the time they say it is disgusting, it stinks, encourages the appearance of stretch marks, especially when you don’t buy the right products your skin can become like a crocodile, it can be itchy, and provoke illnesses, because clearly it’s not healthy. On the other hand, some men love that! That’s why I say it’s relative. They love this, they love women who are light skinned, so it’s a choice. I don’t judge anyone. What I can do is to help my sister realise how bad it is. “
ZOE: ” A big debate indeed. I personally have issues with generalisations, so saying that black men prefer light skinned women in general, makes me feel uneasy. I feel like this comes from images that we have been used to in the media since we were little. But also from our elders, as if there was some type of Stockholm syndrome with this obsession, to want to get as close as possible to our oppressor at any cost. Beyond the media pushing this image, we can easily notice it around us. Football players are a recurrent example and so is Ivory Coast President Ouattara, another great example.
6- Do you believe Colorism could also be a gender problem, does Sexism has a part to play in that?
RUTH: “Colourism is not a gender problem! Colourism only exists in…it’s not a gender problem, it’s just an issue that black women want to focus on, rather than look at themselves and make the right amendments to themselves, to get the type of husband that they want. That’s all.”
ALAN: “Most of the people I see, that buy into Colourism are women. I’ve never seen a dark- skinned man ever cry over Colourism issues. It has ALWAYS been the women. Also, I’ve never see women secure in who they are cry about this either no matter what their skin tone.”
TBAZE: “I think somehow it is intertwined, because you know when we’re talking about beauty just mentioning beauty you think about women, rather than guys. And because of that, women are the ones expected to be ‘beautiful’ and the definition of beauty is lighter skin. However, Colourism does exist with men as well, because when you see a lighter skinned guy people automatically think they’re more handsome, but not as much as it is for women. And, for women as well I think the definition of ‘handsomeness’ or ‘manliness’, beauty in a man, women are not looking for beauty in a man, they’re looking for different things like being masculine, and again that’s another topic for another day. But Sexism has a part to play, so it is intertwined somehow.
MOKELE: “I can give you my point of view or rather my acquaintances’ stance on the matter, they say that white girls are more adventurous in bed.”
SORAYA: “Really? Is that right? Humm! Culturally maybe, because black girls, are more likely to have a traditional education …”
MOKELE: “Too uptight.”
SORAYA: “It’s true that I have watched an episode of Insecure the other day and Issa (lead actress and creator) discusses performing oral sex with her love interest, because for her it’s not natural to do it straight away with someone, where it should be really fair exchange, where both parties work and enjoy the practise. She is really insecure about it, she views it as whoring to practise oral sex altogether. I was shocked by this, but apparently for Afro-American…Afro-American women are not as open-minded about oral sex as we may think. Eventually, she lightens up and gives it a try, (like a white girl would), and she give performs oral sex on her black boy-friend, the guys in complete extasy ejaculates on her face. Now she switches, she’s out of her mind, for her it’s the ultimate disrespect, how could her black brother dare ejaculate on her without any warning on her face. He didn’t even do it on purpose, she refused to talk to him ever again, even know they’ve known each other for so long. I thought it was more of an American viewpoint, but then I realised it could also be the case for certain African girls who inherited our a somewhat traditional education, which means that in bed you are forbidden to do certain things. I don’t know… Also, I think that a black girl that grew up in Europe, it will be different from a girl from back home right darling?”
MOKELE: “Sure, but they still are quite uptight.
LADY ZEE: “Not necessarily, it’s really relative. It’s similar to what I was saying, men have their opinion on that question, but it’s not necessarily the case that women listen to them. Certain women would love to be white because their men ask them to bleach their skin, otherwise they will not love them back. Sometimes it comes into play.”
ZOE: “Another good question. I never saw colourism from this angle, actually… I don’t think sexism issues were waiting on colourism to show up. Even though, sexism can make things worse, to an already complicated situation, when colourism is at play.
7- “Light skin privilege”? Myth or reality??
RUTH: “Light-skin privilege is a myth, Erm it doesn’t exist, it only exists in the minds of the captivated minds of the women that’s insecure with herself. It doesn’t exist. Light skin women and dark skin women, through life have the same type of issues, both of them can’t get men, both of them are hyper-educated, single, spending all of their money, erm… or they unmarried with kids or they are married and the man is cheating… It’s the same issues, whether you’re light skinned or dark skinned. So, there is no such thing as light skin privilege or dark skin privilege, doesn’t exist.”
ALAN: “It’s sad, but it’s real. Mostly from the eyes of white people and those among us longing from white approval.”
TBAZE: “Light-skin privilege? Reality, fact! It happens. It’s in our eyes, we can see it everytime. it’s FACT. I think things are changing, dark skinned women are being represented are representing, yes I agree with that. But there’s still a lot of twist to it.”
SORAYA & MOKELE
SORAYA: “Do you think that in the Fashion industry light-skinned models are more privileged than you are, darling?”
MOKELE: “Erm… whites yes but not necessarily…”
SORAYA: “From whites people perspective yes, my ex’s grandmothers would go ‘Oh she’s pretty, she not too black’ these type of shocking comments or I’ve also heard black people say in regards to a mixed-raced couple ‘Oh you’re gonna have a beautiful mixed baby’, as if a mixed baby would definitely be more beautiful than the black baby or what. I concur what MOKELE said that it stems from a complex, I think that the discrimination is not orchestrated by the community per se, but rather based solely on white people’s perception which started back in slavery time. But amongst us, I don’t feel we do this, but because of white people’s perception, who will give privileges to light skinned people, it creates tensions in our community, whereas the light-skin person never asked for anything in reality. It doesn’t mean they want to turn their backs on their community. I imagine that they’ve got more choices in the dating pool, than her dark-skinned friend. Maybe the dark-skinned friend, would have wanted to go out with that particular white guy, but he would rather be with the light-skinned girl. Right?
MOKELE: “It’s such a woman’s point of view!”
LADY ZEE: “For me it’s not a privilege, because nowadays the movies that we do domestically (SENEGAL) you see a mixture between naturally light-skinned women and darker skinned women, so for me there’s no difference. We choose a bit of everything. Light and dark complexions, it ‘s a mix of everyone in an effort to not only pick light skinned girls in TV shows or not only dark-skinned women either. This is really pointless, what matters for me, is to be a principled person, with a big heart, a decent human being. There is no such thing as light-skin privilege here. I do see them a lot whether they use these products or not, maybe there is not a lot of women that keep their naturally dark skin.Maybe light-skinned women are in big number.”
ZOE: ” A reality. I think that stating otherwise, would only exacerbate the privilege. I would say it’s a privilege for the way we are perceived with the black community but also outside. Concerning caucasians, i would say light-skinned people have a “reassuring” effect, as if they partially recognised themselves in them. It also leads to awkward situations in which a caucasian person would indulge into sharing racist comments with us, without even realising that the light-skin person they are sharing such comments with might even feel offended, by such remarks, due to their mixed heritage. I wouldn’t go as far as to think that light skin privilege immunize against systemic racism, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. However, it’s undeniable that being light-skinned seem to be less stigmatising. Unlike, the dark-skinned woman who would systematically be stigmatised as an angry black woman, before she even had the time to open her mouth.
8- “Dark-skinned women feel disadvantaged in the dating pool due to their complexion and the black men’s gaze”, what do you make of that statement?
RUTH: “ I definitely know that there is a dark skin disadvantage for a lot of women, especially in the entertainment industry, the music industry, where they are put on the bottom of the totem pool for sure, that exists. However, it’s for black women who are darker to not, care about such things because they don’t matter. They don’t matter. Men like I said, are visual creatures regardless, it’s the women that put these barriers upon themselves that ‘Oh he doesn’t like me because of my colour hue! He may not like you because you’re a sassy mouth, he may not like you, because you don’t know what men actually want! He may not like you because, he can see that ‘if I get with you, you’re gonna be trouble, you may be lazy’, you may be … whatever it is… There is a, like I said in my previous point just now, that yes there is a disadvantage for darker skinned women in the entertainment industry, that I see, because I’ve been in this industry, but I’ve seen it first hand, but even as a dark skinned woman working with the industry, I don’t ever recall been disadvantaged by anybody. I recall been chased by men, whether they were light skinned or dark skinned , white or Chinese. I remember people referring to me as ‘Chocolate skin’. I remember thinking, ‘why can’t you just call me, why do I have to be called by the hue of my skin?!’ So I don’t ever remember or recall having a negative experience. But I did see, sometimes there’s been a negative perception of darker women, that they’re not as cute, and so on and so forth, I would sometimes see that. Or I would witness women crying their eyes out, at feeling FEELING being the dominant word here, that they are not as desired as much, which is ridiculous, because even when you look at Destiny’s Child as a group, most men prefer Kelly Rowland over Beyoncé. But even Kelly Rowland herself, does not view herself as as pretty or as beautiful as Beyoncé. So, what does it tell you about yourself? The men are telling you, that we prefer you in the group, you’re beautiful you’re a 10. You yourself as a dark woman doesn’t view that, so what do you want?
ALAN: “Know thyself and thy shall be free of this bulls**t.”
TBAZE: “I feel like even though Colourism might be a thing, my thing is that if a guy is not liking you for one reason or another, everybody has a choice right? So, if they prefer something else, let them go for what they prefer. If a dark-skinned woman knows what she has, then the right person will come for her, you don’t need to force anyone. I don’t think they should see this as a disadvantage, they should just see it as confused people going… it’s just not the right person for you. The right person that values your dark-skinned that loves your dark skin that love you for who you are, I don’t think a disadvantage would be the right word I would use.
SORAYA & MOKELE
SORAYA: “MOKELE says that this question gives him Euro-centric vibes, because back home they don’t have all these issues. Remember the other day we were in Chinese restaurant, we saw a black guy coming in with his white girl, you insulted him, saying there we go again, another black guy … But I told you that, when we look at this brother would we even pay attention to him, that’s probably why he had to go there. We can tell he was a looser, the type of guys that only goes out with white girls, simply because they’re white. Would we really be interested in such guys? I don’t think we must generalise, it’s a case by case approach. What we’re talking about here is what type of men, black men….how do they see us? I don’t want to attract any type of attention from random black men, I think I don’t have that so-called light skinned privilege because I don’t have a butt nor breasts, so even though I’m lighter, I am lacking certain attributes that they want and they will eventually go towards darker sisters to get those.”
LADY ZEE: “ I am a dark-skinned woman and it doesn’t have any influence on my relationships, to the contrary! Sometimes men chase you, […] because they want to demonstrate a passionate love to you, and I am dark-skinned. For me love is not a skin issue, colour, it’s about your heart. “
ZOE: ” Again it is very difficult to generalise for such subject. If we’re talking about France then, yes it’s very likely, i think that a lot of dark-skinned women feel disadvantaged in the dating pool. I think they have had enough, to be considered as animalised and exoticised fantasies. To believe that a lot of men seem to think that dating a dark-skinned woman is an experience they need to tick on their ‘to do list’ (in the same way as women of Asian/Arab origins)
9- Are the ideas of Beauty and Colourism intrinsically intertwined?
RUTH: “I think ideas of beauty come through your mother, I think however your mother treated herself is how you’ll get your ideals of beauty from. So, like for me my mother loved fashion,but she loved African fashion, so she always had the latest styles, she was a dark -skinned woman but she never talked about colour, in terms of ’who’s better’. All she ever taught me was ‘keep yourself neat’, ‘keep yourself tidy’, ‘keep your hair tidy’, ‘wear your lipstick’, ‘do your eyes’, ‘be proud of yourself’. See, that’s where most women get their beauty standards from… it was never a discussion in my home. So that’s why it’s never a discussion in my home right now with MY daughter. And my daughter is quite a brown skinned girl and my son is a light-skinned boy I’m the dark mother,so it’s never a discussion of colour hues in my home. So I believe the beauty standards, are from your mother , however she treated herself is where you’ll get it. So, if she’s the type of women that wore wigs every day and bleached her skin, of wore wigs and bleached her skin, well of course the daughters are not gonna have a good self-esteem, or good self-identity when they look at their first protagonist of black beauty and their mother is putting insecurity on their head, insecurity on her skin. What do you expect, them to grow up and think about their dark skin? They’re gonna think it’s not good! That their own mother is trying to get rid of it in every capacity or putting lighter foundation on her skin, but they just have to wash it off and it’s dark…. All of these things come from the mother in the home.
ALAN: “By some.”
TBAZE: “No I don’t think they are. This is the reason why I don’t think they are intrinsically intertwined. I feel like, It’s not natural, we weren’t born the same way racism, it’s not intrinsically intertwined. The skin colour of somebody else, we don’t see it as inferior or superior naturally, it came from a group of people wanting to make another group of people feel inferior, so that for one reason or another based on their agenda and they managed to do that based on the ideology that a certain skin colour ois more superior and then because that’s happened for so long and they started a very long time ago , now it has become a norm and it’s not a thing that people just see as a thing , that ‘Yeah, yeah they are more beautiful , because they are lighter skinned ‘ So it’s seen as a norm now whereas naturally actually isn’t intrinsically intertwined. But I can see why other people might say it is. But in my opinion it isn’t, no.”
SORAYA & MOKELE
SORAYA: “ No I wouldn’t say that there is. I would say that it’s an idea that people created and it’s senseless. There are light-skinned women with ungracious and far from harmonious features and darker women who are gorgeous. Beauty is subjective, I’m really glad with my TV Show Afropolitaine La Web Série, to promote attractive dark-skinned actresses to break these preconceived ideas just because from a marketing / media perspective light-skinned women were championed as if they were the only one that could be beautiful, when actually beauty resides in any shade, they need to all be represented.
LADY ZEE: “I don’t see any correlation between Colourism and Beauty. Colourism, if we speak about racism, I don’t see what it has to do with Beauty. So, I don’t see a somewhat link between the two.”
ZOE: “For me there isn’t any correlation between beauty and skin tone. Unfortunately, it depends on the eyes of the beholder, and that is where the issue of Colorism lies. For many, it seems that the lighter you are, the prettier you will be. For many a lighter skin complexion equates beauty, because as you said earlier, the skin-lightening industry is burgeoning. And it is a catastrophe. We can see the psychological damage caused, by hundreds of years of belittlement, judgement and dehumanisation. It’s very sad, to know that so many people want to change the colour of their skin 😦 I’ve only realised how common this practise was until a few years back, when i met a friend (male) of mine who had used these products. It may seem trivial, but this friend in question, is as light skinned as i am, but feels he is still too dark. Dark as compared to what exactly for god’s sake? I was really saddened by this, to know how unhappy he felt in his own skin.
10 – Do you think the TV landscape and the media in general, influence Colourism to some extent?
RUTH: “Does the media landscape affect or kind of endorse or even help to perpetuate Colourism? Absolutely not! Media goes where audiences go, so if they see as a group of people talking about this issue, they’re just gonna cover it. If they see black women talking about this issue and feeling insecure, and feeling ‘Oh poor me!’ They’re gonna cover it! But then they’re like ‘What the… this is the issue?’ They’ll cover it because they can make a profit on that. Profit comes out of misery. They ‘ll make profit on that. Black women have been the most muddle-cuddled group in our society, black men have been shutdown in terms of, if black men think they are ok or that they’re doing ok, black women and the rest of society are quick to tell them ‘No you ain’t!’ White women , white men have been the same, If they think there’s something… media, society and other races in general, will tell them ‘No you ain’t!’ Black women have been the only group that’s been protected, so if you’ve been protected all this time, why are you still finding issues and faults? Because you asses are lonely, and you’got nothing better to do! So, no the media are not perpetuating, advancing, not progressing this issue. They’re only going were the audiences go or when the discussion goes.
TBAZE: “I can say it this way TV and the media in general influences everything, everything, everything! Who is not influenced by the media, who’s not influenced by TV, so yeah I think I mentioned earlier on about the models that you see on certain beauty products, they are all light skinned or most of them are, if we look at stats, most of them are. The media does influence people’s perception, the audience’s it definitely has a major, major influence!
SORAYA: “I firmly believe that the media landscape pertains Colourism, and the best way to end it is to open doors to more diversity.”
LADY ZEE: “Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. Because like I said earlier, about the media and the media landscape as a whole, perhaps some people’s goal is to simply advance light skinned women, but from what I see, it’s a mix. They don’t create (SENEGAL)a difference between two: light and dark. It’s a mixture between dark, brown, light and very light so it’s a real mix. So I really don’t understand how they can influence Colourism.”
ZOE: ” Yes, because the media influences a lot of our perceptions. Especially ads, TV shows, and music videos seem to have a big impact on the perception we have of ourselves, particularly given they have been accessible since a very young age (even more so today!). Obviously if while growing up we are always exposed to the same “type” of characters, then we tend to believe that it’s our reality and that if we don’t look like them we need to to everything in our power to fit in that mould, that is presented to us day after day. But, generally speaking, for me the media only present to us the conclusion of a socio-cultural problem.We are biased for generations for wanting to look like the white colons at any cost. This question needs to be resolved, before it is regurgitated by the media. But, yes in an ideal world , the media would be pioneers in putting such issues at the forefront, which hasn’t been the case yet, but as history showed things don’t necessarily happen in this order, generally speaking.
11- What do you think can be the solution, for us to move on from this as a community?
RUTH: “The only answers for blacks and I said before, is for black whether they’re men and female to come back together and do some introspection, and stop blaming others for your misfortunes. The black women, stop blaming men if you’re not married, and you don’t have a husband that is because of your colour hue, stop blaming others and look at yourselves and figure out, what have I got to offer others, whether it being your media, whether it being your job, your friends, your potential husband. What do you have to offer, am I a nurturer, am I a homemaker, or am I a business person, am I a partner? What do I have to offer? ‘Cause once a woman knows what she has to offer men , they wouldn’t care about their colour hue, they would work on tangible things, that would get them their desired husband. Because, ultimately that’s what they want, that’s what they’re crying about, ‘he doesn’t like me ‘cause I’m dark-skinned!’ Stop it, stop your non-sense and sit down! You don’t know what you have to offer. And the men are visual, so if you know the men visual, figure out where you need to make these changes, and those adaptations it’s very simple. Previous generations knew this so what’s changed, nothing’s changed. Nothing’s changed. Dark-skinned women have been married for over centuries, so why haven’t they been married now. Because YOU don’t know what is out there, you don’t know what the men that you want, want, whether you’re light-skinned or dark-skinned. So in order for this discussion to come to an end, and to cease and desist, black women need to come back to themselves, stop being sassy and figure out where am I going wrong, and how can I fix this. What do I have to offer? What are my realistic expectations, even as a dark-skinned woman and maybe you want a light-skinned man, ok well then what would that light-skin men be looking for in a dark-skinned woman, and you figure it out and you work that out. It’s simple.”
ALAN: “Know thyself. Stand in you power.”
TBAZE: “Had to think properly for this one. With this one here, the solution and moving forward as a community. I think it’s one of those ones that’s got to happen on 3 levels. 1- Individual 2- Community 3- Media. On a personal level, the individual, the dark-skinned woman, this is why these sort of conversations are important, should themselves understand and know, this is part of knowledge of self, that your beauty has nothing to do with your skin tone in itself, everybody is beautiful in their way, but beauty isn’t actually about colour, it’s about how you take care of yourself. Make sure you drinking water… you know, all of these things, making sure you wash your face when you need to, living a clean lifestyle, that makes you beautiful, eating well and stuff. You yourself, start seeing that you’re looking good. That’s beauty! Dress well, and all of these things. It’s not about skin tone in itself, it’s about how you look after what you have and not seeking external validation. And this is not just about Colourism, it’s about everything, but specifically about Colourism, dark skinned women /men knowing what you have and cherishing what you have is key. The second level, community level. I ‘m hoping that people are actually starting to recognise that we need to redefine beauty and I think that’s happening and we are progressing, more people understand that being darker skinned does not mean the uglier you get. On the media level, we need to have more representation, darker skinned women being represented in a positive light, in a beauty light. We don’t need you to have the darkest woman for everyone now to be commenting … It doesn’t have to be the extreme to be celebrated. We need more positive representation, in a way that you’re not just using it to tick your BAME box, but because they are beautiful, so media have a lot of twists that they do. They operate on the psychological level right? So, we need more dark-skinned women to make the decisions, people with sense go to the media industry and make the required changes. People actually sticking to their guns. From the media level, the media will affect the people’s perception, and in turn will affect the individual level. I think regardless of what the media and people are saying, I know it’s easy to say but, if that individual can have that self-confidence and self-knowledge, and it goes a long way, and it will at some point affect how people see things, then affect how the media represents. Even though the media control the people, when the media realise that people are not buying into their BS anymore, they will start shifting things in the way the people want them.”
SORAYA & MOKELE
SORAYA:” The solution is to represent everyone to resolve this issue, especially in our community. Darling, what solution can you think of to end this issue of Colourism in our community? What if you got a kid tomorrow and your little girl is insecure, because she’s not mixed-raced, what would you tell her?”
MOKELE: “I’m not mixed-raced so.. It’s clear for me. I don’t know where she found these questions! (Laughs)
SORAYA: “[ Ayekpa Anne-Laetitia] MOKELE thinks you might be neurotic. My dear, us women we suffer. He is clearly not aware of his own privilege of being a black man. Indeed, white girls love black men, he has been courted by a lot, he’s been really popular, whereas for us black girls it’s not the same. So, there is also a point to make that Colourism will be different whether you are a black female or a black man in French society, you need to take this into account. He’s always been VIP, privileged you know…
MOKELE: “Not always, not always!”
SORAYA: “You attracted both the honey AND the bees! (laughs) It’s just that you’re shy, so if you were less shy… let’s just say we don’t have the same problems.”
LADY ZEE: “To fix the issue of Colourism, for starters if all bleaching products disappeared that would be awesome. And even if there isn’t any, we will always see women with darker skin tones, some that will be lighter, and some who will naturally be even lighter. So, concerning women who bleach their skin, I am really scared when it comes to skin conditions especially skin cancers, rather than Colourism or Racism itself. Now, the issue of Colourism has been amongst us for along time, its diminishing as we evolve with our mindsets. White men marry dark-skinned women and vice versa, or a dark-skinned man marrying a white woman, they have mixed raced kids, so for me it’s less and less. But there will still be that group of people that strongly believe that the lighter the more powerful, the more beautiful, it’s rubbish. The solution … I can’t get into people’s heads and tell them to not be racist, and to not have a superiority complex, to not create clans. Everything is a state of mind and if they don’t evolve, the world will continue to evolve in that fashion, that would be unfortunate. I don’t think it will end completely, I have never experienced such a thing, I feel good within myself, everywhere I go , I am my own person, people like me, my thoughts, ideas…
ZOE: “EDUCATION! It all starts from childhood where idiotic stereotypes circulate too easily, that’s also when we are helped to form opinions about the world we live in , whether we like it or not. Deconstructing it all is a massive task. We can also be more gentle, more understanding and empathetic towards one another.
RUTH: “I’m sick of Colourism cry babies, who have dark hearts and minds. What do I mean by this, well they want to blame others for their lack of opportunity with men based on their colour. It’s not their dark skin it’s their dark character!”
LEE – CAUCASIAN BRITISH PHOTOGRAPHER
“No matter how self-confident one is, they are always taken back even subconsciously to their own environment, whether they like it or not. You can’t detach yourself from society. You mentioned a few times that your mum is beautiful and that she is light skinned, subconsciously just because of the world we are growing up in, you are shaped by society’s views. Even if the skin tone does not affect you, simply by mentioning that your mother is light skinned , you are indeed affected by society. This shapes your views on some kind of level. It’s social conditioning.”
Bonus Question : Afropolitaine La Web Série -ép 3 Trois Soeurs [Three Sisters] on Colourism
In Afropolitaine La Web Série episode 3 – TROIS SOEURS what do you think of the cousin’s reaction Lisa and her turmoil in the restaurant scene?
TBAZE: “So with Afropolitaine La Web Série episode 3, I feel like it’s a combination of so many different things, that Lisa has experienced growing up how you, her cousins used to make fun of her, and call her albino and all of these sort of things, and me thinking back as well I know that in Nigeria, and I’m sure a lot of different countries as well, people see Albinos are, normally laughed at. There is assaying in my language that, Albinos can’t see during the day, you know, so people laugh at them , ‘cause they always squinting their eyes, they’re always talking about ‘Albinos can’t eat salt’, so people kind of make fun of them, some Albinos are seen as spiritually inclined, so either they’re using them as, like maybe to do certain sacrifices, I mean be the one that would do the sacrifice, because they believe they are you know , spiritually inclined, and or they are been used as the sacrifice, by people who want to do money rituals and stuff. This is not in relation Lisa… Coming back to Lisa, she experienced that thing growing up or that you know, discrimination, not necessarily discrimination she may have faced that out in other places, but within her own cousins, making her feel a certain way. And then she went into the shop, and she sees how she was treated differently, in comparison to her cousins, people that she clearly loves. So she had something coming from her cousins, something from other people, and then as soon as that woman, and even as they got served the champagne, mainly because of her. When the woman came in the woman said ‘Oh you’re lucky you have a good skin, what cream are you using.’ So she just wants to be normal she just wants to be as her other cousins, be regarded as her cousins would be regarded and stuff like that. Now that sometimes works in her favour, sometimes it doesn’t, but she in herself feels that she is black, but people refer to her perhaps not as black. So there’s this identity issue happening and I think that’s why she reacted, because they brought everything back. That one day with her cousins , brought everything back. That’s what I see as her reaction. But there’s so many little things from that little scene.
ZOE: “Oh she cried, i didn’t realise. We feel she is the one been bullied, it’s a good portrayal of the mixed-raced/ light-skinned experience. You feel you are too black for the white community and not black enough for the black community. The expression that sums it all up , is when Rigoberte says :’ I don’t know if you are white or black , but what is clear to me , is that you have white people’s problems’ BAM! I think i already heard the exact same. comment. Anyway, i really appreciated that it was tackled with a lot of humour. Of course it’s not possible to sum it all up in what episode but i loved watching it 🙂
In conversation with RUDY– Congolese-French rising UK Fashion Stylist 🧥
We like Beyoncé because of her light skin, she‘s beautiful but also and very much due to her proximity to white skin. Tyra Banks too, her beauty was unearthly, colourism was definitely at play, but there is another colourism or rather the resentment towards light-skinned people. The Kelly vs Beyoncé match… We were conditioned to hate our women, we are the products of History.
No one loves like a black woman or rather no one will love the black man like black women. Black women LOVE black men.
Black men’s preferences towards light-skinned/ white women stems from society conditioning, there are bigger forces at work, making them incline to such preferences and denial. They are in total denial.
Colourism is insidious, it’s not just about attraction, it’s like racism but more insidious.
I have a light skinned mother and sister, perceived as cute as a youngster, because of her lighter skin tone. When we were teenagers, mixed-raced people were the most beautiful, it was the apotheosis of beauty, along with the idea of the cannibalised black men and the came along the trend of light-skin ‘pout’ and ‘squint’ and the idea of light skin privilege. We we subjected to this frenzy about light-skin people, light skin men included with the likes of Chris Brown and asmuch as women , in the noughties 2000-2010 coupled with texturism (discrimination linked to hair texture).
On the other hand , the myth of the “ebony man” , the idea of “beast” or “hyper-masculine” was also rampant at the time. Black men fetichism is still present today.
I personally took pride into knowing I was “chocolate” not just black, but slightly lighter than that. We are all colourist unconsciously.
I love the fact that as black people, since a young age we are aware of everything, colourism, we look up to the culture, we embrace.
When I was younger I used to be intrigued by Alek Wek’s beauty, I was confused as I had been conditioned to like euro-centric beauty standards, western concept of Beauty, are so within us. I was intrigued by her beauty, didn’t know why or how, all I know was that I discovered I actually found her beautiful, through a journey of self-love and appreciating and accepting black beauty for what is was.
If Black men could be with other women without degrading and constantly putting black women down, the world would be a better place.
Black love – No one will love you like a black women love you nor understand you. However, black men always devalues black women. When Meghan Thee Stallion got shot by Tory Lanez, people were slow to react or believe her, especially black men. The first thing she did though, knowing how in America the police are after black men, is to protect him, before herself her first instinct, she refused to press charges for him to avoid going to jail, it’s only after he acted up that she eventually did. If it had been Kylie Jenner, he would have been in jail straight away. Black women are always discredited, not taken seriously.
The first time I was faced or encountered Colourism was from a very young age, I was called “charcoal” and “big head.
Both women and men are affected by this issue, but not on the same level. We often notice, dark-skinned men with light-skinned women. On Instagram I come across pages and groups about black love where oftentimes men are dark-skinned whereas women are light-skinned.
I think it’s about knowing where that preference comes from, we are a product of our environment it’s not subjected to a preference. Why do you really prefer light skin women? You gotta dig deeper.
Light skin privilege is real you can’t deny it.
Opinions such as when it comes to racism, people saying ‘I see no colour’ do not sit right with me , you’re denying my reality.
The TV landscape definitely influence Colourism to prosper.
Education is the key in order to come out of this vicious circle that is Colorism.
— Rudy 🧡
Let’s wrap it up nicely ☑️
These statements were so enlightening indeed. I remember as a youngster people would always tell me how beautiful my mum is, and that in fact her beauty surpassed mine, I always attributed this to simple looks or her features, to what I agreed my mum is hot mama! But it’s only recently, and I came to realised that even though she is indeed gorgeous, the desirability that people felt for her had also to do with their perception of her as light- skinned, which in turn means stereotypically black ( angry, grumpy, loud). For these people would always mention her complexion, before anything else. I have never been insecure about my mum’s complexion, more about her beauty as a whole actually. I was proud, I still am, but it was more a matter of my mum is so beautiful rather than my mum is beautiful because she is light skinned for me. I had gorgeous aunties who were dark- skinned, and I was surrounded by different people of a million shades who were pretty, so for me you could be beautiful in any shade. The self-confidence was definitely not related to Colourism. I believe it exists, I believe that light-skin privilege exists too in the media and in our society. As Soraya mentioned, some black men are quick to validate light-skinned women in Africa and even elsewhere. However, light-skinned people have their share of troubles too as well illustrated in Afropolitaine La Web serie with Lisa going through therapy due to her cousins bullying and processing her issues related to fitting in society as a mixed-raced girl. It’s rough, but it’s a reality. Why blame light-skinned people just because people favour them? Why hate the player, hate the game instead! Let’s fight it by looking within ourselves and kill this plague with communicating with each other.
I believe we all have the ability to be privileged to some extent. I had a discussion once with a white guy who did not understand why he couldn’t sing along the N-word with the rapper he was listening to. He even said, some black people find this ridiculous and even told me I could sing, that it did not matter. So, I confronted these people and realised none of them were Afro-American they were all mainly from African descent born in Europe. I said to them that their Afro-pean privilege prevented them from seeing the mere fact that if Afro-American think it is offensive, respectfully decline singing along full stop. We all have it in us to be privileged somehow, what matters is to realise that and act accordingly in order to not disrespect others. Just because I can’t feel your pain, doesn’t mean it’s not real. Food for thoughts.
All these comments, gathered so much but essentially they corroborated different perspectives from people from different people, age, background and countries. Yet, the main thing they had in common is the colour of their skin. This is the beauty of being part of such a large community whether you are on the continent or from the diaspora, your wealth resides into your different experiences and your outlook on life. At the end of the day, we are all black, but it’s our stories and our journeys that define us. Indeed, Soraya & Mokele offered us a viewpoint from a couple living in France and who have lived (separately) in Congo and Ivory Coast. TBaze, born in Nigeria divulged about Colourism from his UK perspective, just like Ruth born and bred in the UK from Ghanaian origins. Alan shared his views from the US, Lady Zee from Senegal and Rudy from the perspective of a native of Congo, bred in France and currently living in the UK.
Take Ruth for instance, she firmly believes that Colourism is “unvibrational” and primarly stemming from black women’s insecurities linked to the quest to find Mr Right, most likely coming from missing out on a strong mother figure influencing and teaching them how to properly take care of themselves, and to comport themselves, in order to reach their ultimate goal. Ruth is also stating that women should look within themselves rather than blaming it on others or on their skins. I do agree with her, since I always believed in the ‘know thyself’ mantra, but also that as Rudy was saying we are the product of our history, or like Lee said we also are the product of our own environment.That is to say, no matter how hard we work on ourselves to be the most confident and strongest person ever, society may put barriers such as the light skin privilege that Alan confirmed was a reality. And, I do concur his stance that in the grand scheme of things, we need to focus on other things, as we are one, and aim to unite. What Zoe mentioned about the skin bleaching habit, comparing it to the Stockholm syndrome, was genius. I never even thought about it like this. Trying to look like the oppressor and emulating their looks and trauma in our own community , is deeply sad. We need to be better, we deserve better. She also mentioned a real life example of her male friend who uses bleaching creams, as i previously wrote in this entry, it is not to be overlooked. We need to support one another in this fight against self-loathing and unattainable one-vision beauty standards.Just like Lady Zee though, I do think that colourism and racism are the same thing in different packages, but I am more hopeful that if our governments and the media follow the trend of championing all shades with more diversity as Soraya and Mokele pointed out we will see the light at the end of the tunnel. It does come down to self-confidence and self-worth, but at the end of the day normalising the debate around this issue is the key to a more positive outcome for the years to come, as TBaze suggested.
Colourism is a myth in the sense that it was based on white supremacy school of thought, and eugenics that put whiteness on a pedestal, especially when it comes to beauty standards that black and brown communities around the world emulated to the best of their capabilities. Nonetheless, it is bitterly a reality because we see its adverse consequences epitomised by the rise of the skin-lightening industry.We still need to decolonise our minds as a community and educate our youngsters to love themselves and to be strong to counter all this. For us to prosper it comes from within with self-worth but also from the end of misogynoir and texturism affecting our communities in a negative way, this needs to be promoted by our male counterparts to be rocketed in the society as whole. It is crucial for it to start with black men, for the impact it will have in the society and in the media. Black women and dark-skinned women in particular deserve the respect and admiration that other women command, which is fuelled by white beauty fetishization. As we need to normalise the conversation around colourism, we also need to stop advocating generalising black females stereotypes oftentimes being negative. Give us a break, what you see isn’t necessarily what you get! There is so many reasons why black women look fierce (resting b***c face amongst other things, guilty!), we are fighters, are a minority and are strong-willed in a world so hostile to us. Interestingly we “appear” to be “unapproachable” or “unfriendly” but could it be that our attitude reflecting our strength, confidence and resilience simply intimidates you? Never judge a book by its cover, as I often write ‘some black men’ don’t assume ‘all’ black women fit in this mould, consequently determining how you all treat us at the same rate. This ‘etiquette’ is what kill us at a rapid rate during pregnancy and at childbirth. This stigmatisation of dark-skinned women (as opposed to dark-skinned men who are idealised) is comes from a myth that perpetuates light supremacy needs to stop, and the media will have a big impact of people’s perceptions of women with darker complexions. All these rising stars in the music and in the movies/TV shows are showing a clear shift in the media scenery and the accolades they get from the public can only be gravy. One can only hope that it will influence people to stop damaging their skin with bleaching products and influence the youth to be happy with their complexions and see beauty for what is free from colour or conditioning.
See you next week for a Bonus you won’t want to miss!! Don’t hesitate to LIKE, SHARE AND COMMENT HERE and on SOCIAL MEDIA. Tell me what you think in the discussion 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 4 TIME, from my Colourism series. FOLLOW, SHARE & COMMENT!! 👇🏾#colourisminbollywood #colourisminthearabworld #colourisminasia #colourisminafrica #colourisminthemedia #colourisminthemusicindustry #fairandlovely #colourismisreal #yellowbones #colourisminsigned #danileigh #rickross #afrolatinas #argentinasowhite #conversationsaboutcolourismTweet
4th blog entry: Colourism series, episode 4
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 THE BONUS 💋
Phew, you made it! Well done! If you like this post, check out my previous post! Down here 👇🏾 AND see you next week for my BONUS 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…