By Laurianne Lingbondo
“Black is beautiful, Black don’t crack, dark and lovely” are terms loosely used in the black community to appreciate the darkness of the skin of African people with dark pigmentation but all this love and appreciation is merely a pretence because a considerable majority prefer a lighter tone of skin. It is no secret that the darker you are the more likely you are to face discriminatory derogatory remarks from fellow Black people.
A few weeks ago in America, a young black girl, Keli Chubb posted a picture of her and her boyfriend Nyong James in social media and it caused a stir on social Media with many African Americans trolling the picture because of how dark he is. With many commenting “you can’t see nothing but his teeth because his way too dark “a common joke even in Africa used to tease many dark-skinned children in schools.
Colourism is the concept used to describe the preference of lighter skin tone over darker skin tone which has become an epidemic that is rife in Black societies but never addressed because it is assumed that black people can’t be racist and especially to their own kind. The term “Melanin” which loosely means “a dark brown to black pigment occurring in hair, skin, and iris” is usually the caption of many dark-skinned men and women on social media in a form of retaliation to all the hate received because of their dark skin.
This is not a new occurrence though as even during the colonial period, Europeans colonists in Rwanda preferred the Tutsi over Hutu because they had a lighter tone of skin than the Hutu subsequently in Nigeria the Igbo people were also preferred over Yoruba and Hausa natives because of their light skin. This stemming down to the belief that light was closer to purity and cleanliness and dark or black in most cases is associated with evilness.
Communications lecturer at the University of Johannesburg DR Shepherd spoke out on this type of racism by using a comparison of two different media messages. The first one being the one of The Lion King and how although Mufasa was a part of Simba’s family him being created in the darker shade and Simba in a lighter shade spread the message to kids that darkness could only be associated with evil and light with good.
In the Amarula advert with Alek Wek her phrase “it’s an African original just like me” went on further cause a distinction of a race within a race -implying that only dark skinned Black Africans were truly African.
Also, it is seen by African women as a patriarchal issue Dorcas Toko a Congolese, “dark-skinned” model in one of her Facebook posts about Colourism which she has experienced personally went in to question why dark skinned men were more desirable and a symbol of physical strength while black women are perceived as “ugly”.
Actress Lupita N’yongo in an interview spoke on how she would get teased about her dark skin by kids at school and how it affected her self-esteem for a lot of years. She only felt comfortable in her skin when she started appreciating her dark skin as she often thought of bleaching her skin. The irony of bleaching one’s skin in Africa is that you’d still get judged afterward for not being proud of being Black whilst when you stay embrace your “blackness” your still “too black”.
The underlying truth is that Black people are hypocrites firstly for criticising other racial groups about racism but in return inflicting it on their own kind and, secondly for preaching “black love” while they dislike their own “brothers and sisters”.