Recently I got an amazing opportunity to talk about colorism with some incredibly smart folks on a local talk show. I got this opportunity because I wrote a short story on Life Like a Lady; A Dark Skinned Girl.. The short story was part of a series of four I have written titled ‘Life like a Lady.’ This particular short story happened to have been about “A Dark Skinned Girl.” You can read it here
The interesting thing after, and slightly before going for this interview which caught my attention was a few responses and comments that I really wasn’t expecting. To name a few, *I paraphrase*
“I think there are more important things to talk about…”
“I don’t think it’s an issue unless you decide to make it an issue.”
“But why are you making what society believes such a big deal? Si you just CHOOSE to not let it affect you?”
“So now if you complain and complain about it but do nothing who is that helping? I’m tired of just seeing social media campaigns, and talks, and etc. without doing anything about it.”
Let me just say something, out of the disgusted part of me. Shut. The. Hell. Up.
This is the reason most little girls are ashamed of their insecurities, because the world (comprised of society, culture, and authoritative figures), after feeding them those insecurities, then goes on to tell them how there are much bigger problems in comparison to their little insecurities so they should deal with it and get over it. This also happens in Social Justice issues, such as the bringing up of The #AllLivesmatter from the #Blacklivesmatter.
Colorism is a real thing, if it wasn’t why are there statements like, “You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” or “awww her baby is so light (skinned) she/he will be so cute growing up.”
If it isn’t a real thing why are statements like “Light Skin is Right Skin” in rap lyrics consciously accepted as an ‘okay’ thing to say. Why are there hashtags going round such as #Teamlightskin vs. #Teamdarkskin?
If it isn’t a real thing why do (According to World Health Organization) 77% of Nigerian women use skin-lightening products, followed be 59% in Togo, and 35% in South Africa? I could give more, everyday, smaller examples or even go back to the roots such as Willie Lynch’s Letter to slave owners in the 1800’s on how to control your slaves,
“In my bag here, I HAVE A FULL PROOF METHOD FOR CONTROLLING YOUR BLACK SLAVES. I guarantee every one of you that, if installed correctly, IT WILL CONTROL THE SLAVES FOR AT LEAST 300 HUNDREDS YEARS. My method is simple. Any member of your family or your overseer can use it. I HAVE OUTLINED A NUMBER OF DIFFERENCES AMONG THE SLAVES; AND I TAKE THESE DIFFERENCES AND MAKE THEM BIGGER. I USE FEAR, DISTRUST AND ENVY FOR CONTROL PURPOSES. These methods have worked on my modest plantation in the West Indies and it will work throughout the South… You must use the DARK skin slaves vs. the LIGHT skin slaves, and the LIGHT skin slaves vs. theDARK skin slaves…” -Willie Lynch
Now that we have established that it is an actual problem, issue, controversial topic of discussion or whatever else you want to call it, then what’s next? Because I am talking about it am I whining? Am I complaining? Why not do something about it.
Those who started the Black Lives Matter movement, are they complaining? Aren’t they doing something about it?
Talking about it is doing something about it! Social Media Campaigns are doing something about, using the power of words to change people’s mind sets is having the strength to not sit down, shut up, and let the world be what it is without being challenged.
One of the most gorgeous campaigns I have seen recently is The Unfair and Lovely Social Media Campaign which I originally saw on Facebook. It involves beautiful South Asian women who are combating the ‘Fair and Lovely’ norm. They are saying being fair doesn’t automatically mean being lovely, and being lovely doesn’t automatically mean being fair.
They are speaking out, using pictures and words which will allow the next generation of little girls to see role models who look like them as the norm, allowing them to feel comfortable in their own skin, allowing them to tackle other issues this world faces. To me that is making a world of a difference.
So no I will not shut up about colorism, or racism, or nappy hair, or being extra curvy, or sexism, or worthlessness, or intellect, or any insecurity that breaks a person into silent pieces and takes away their voice. Because the sooner we are able to acknowledge that things like these affect who we are as people, the sooner we will be able to deal with, and move past them.2