Shaina Brown

All the warm colours of summer in June: an article on colourism

Shaina Brown -

Tags: Beauty, Life, Caribbean People

All the warm colours of summer in June: an article on colourism

@caribbeanspyce

I had something else planned for this month but in light of BLM, we’re sticking to topic.

Colourism is define as:

A form of prejudice or discrimination usually from members of the same race in which people are treated differently based on the social implications from cultural meanings attached to skin color.

Trinidad and Tobago unfortunately has a lot of colourism.

I once had a 17 year old, dark skin, kinky hair girl say to me, "There is a totem pole."

Light skin girl with loose curls or straight hair.
Foreigners that look exotic.
Light skin girl with kinky hair.
Light skin Indian girl.
Brown skin Indian girl with thicc body and medium brown skin mixed girls with loose curls.
Dark skin Indian and black girls.

"I am a dark skin girl with kinky hair, people rarely give me the time of day."


That broke my heart and it has stayed with me for years.
Now, I don’t know if I agree exactly with the order but I do agree that light skinned women are at the top and dark skin women are bottom in the eyes of society.

The most I can do with the article is bring awareness. I wish I had a conclusion and solution to fix this but I am one person. This requires a societal movement and change in mentality.

I’m medium. I have looseish curls. I’m obviously mixed and can sometimes be pegged as exotic. I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum. I’ve experienced the unjust advantages of being light skin and the unjust disadvantages of being dark skin. It depends on the persons perspective of if I’m light or dark.

I’ve lost opportunities because of the colour of my skin. I’ve had men fetishize me and some have even said I’m not their type because their type is a “reds.” I’ve experienced both ends and when I’ve received the privilege of light skin, I’ve felt the pain of the rejection of dark skin.

It’s unfair. It’s disgusting. It’s depreciating. I can go on.

Why should the value of a woman or man be determined by the colour of their skin?

In reality, attraction matters. I agree, you need to be attracted to someone to fall for them. However, what is a problem, is using skin colour as a measure of attractiveness (or even race but that’s another topic). If a persons face/body is beautiful to you, that should be your only criteria for attraction. Not the colour of their skin.

I’ve heard many people say, "if you paint a light skin person dark, a lot of them would not even be objectively attractive."

What that statement is saying is that, light skin is so internalized as beautiful that a person’s skin colour, if light skin, exaggerates to you their beauty. Psychologically, that’s maladaptive. You have so internalized this sick narrative that, “light skin is better,” that you see light skin and your head subconsciously and immediately turns.

Why do we as Caribbean people place on a pedestal light skin so much?

Massa was white. Massa owned our ancestors. Massa was a symbol of independence, comfortable living and essentially, happiness/freedom.

The only difference between a slave and their massa was the colour of their skin. Our ancestors became so brainwashed that they mixed up happiness/freedom with being white. When Massa had children with slaves, those children who were light skin gained more freedom/happiness than their black parent.
Again, light skin = freedom/happiness. Those children and the whites continued to reap the benefits of society.

“Light skin is better,” mentality is a result of slavery. And while we are not still enslaved, the mentality is so intricately and deeply ingrained in society...we are still enslaved.

What I’m saying to you is, WAKE UP. Search yourself and find your internalized mental slavery and work on it.

The colour of someone’s skin should not be a standard of beauty. And it should not be a criteria for you choosing someone or for you measuring your worth.

If we can all collectively work on this, we can abolish this.

Light skin people, this is not an attack on you. This is education. You have privilege. Use it to speak up for your dark skin brothers and sisters. Uplift them. Speak of their beauty. Uplifting someone doesn’t take away your spotlight. It just gives other people an opportunity to be normalized as beautiful and open them to experiences you as well have.

Dark skin people, you are beautiful. From shades of sweet molasses to deep warm cocoa, you are children of the soil, blessed and highly favoured by God and the universe. Pity the mental shackles of those who would think less of you for you rich skin. Rise above.

I’m not going to sit here and drop any mumbo jumbo about inner beauty. Inner beauty is absolutely, the first and foremost important thing but the reality is, people don’t see who you are inside first- they see what you look like. And to me, If you’re well kept, you dress suitably and take pride in your appearance (cut your nails, take care of you skin, exercise etc) that’s all that should matter. Not the colour of your skin. I cannot emphasize this enough.

Let’s break the cycle. Let us uplift each other. Let us heal the society we live in and remove the shackles that the ghost of slavery still haunts us with.

SKIN COLOUR IS NOT A CRITERIA FOR HOW BEAUTIFUL SOMEONE IS. PERIODT.


Who is the writer?

Caribbean Spyce is a proud alumni of Hillview College and graduated Bsc Psychology, First Class Honours, UWI, St. Augustine. A member of honours society, Psi Chi.
Follow her on Instagram! @caribbeanspyce

Header Photo by Clarke Sanders on Unsplash

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