A few nights ago I came across a shared post from the radio station Power FM Zambia, the post simply said “Good Morning… #YouthRadio” with a photo of two unknown regular women (who probably didn’t consent to their images being used, it looks like a google image) next to each other and it said “A or B?” It took about 5 seconds before I rolled my eyes and got irritated, why you ask? Because the women in question are both black but they are different skin tones, immediately the 30 year old black woman in me was raging. Before you try to say maybe they meant their hair or eyebrows or eye shape take a moment to recognise how they didn’t even expand past “A or B?” probably to avoid controversy. Well epic fail because it’s bloody controversial and we aren’t happy, this is blatant colourism.
Now this post was offensive not only to me but to many of my friends who saw it, why you ask? Well the answer is best defined by the word COLOURISM, below is the definition of that word if you do not understand it.
noun: colorism 1.prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.”
It’s no big secret that within the black community there is colourism, it has existed for centuries. It dates back to slavery when lighter skinned slaves were “house slaves” and darker skinned slaves were “field slaves”. It also affects us in 2016 when clubs or college parties let white girls in free, light girls in cheaper and dark girls have to pay more money to enter because they aren’t “ideal”. It also infiltrates our everyday when you meet a sister who bleaches her skin or you see a Facebook advert with someone selling bleaching agents for k800. What are women supposed to think when lighter skin is festishized? This affects the self-esteem of all shades of women, you get light-skinned girls thinking they are better and dark girls thinking they are less. This especially happens at a young age as a child when people make comments about skin colour or compliment lighter skin. I know many a black girl who is light who grew up being told “umuhle”( you’re beautiful) why? all because they were light!
One FEMALE twitter follower reading my tweets expressed, “No hun but that’s a personal choice. If I choose to get a boob job, that is also a choice. We can’t blame the community for that.” she also went on to add “It’s a silly question I agree. But do you prefer the tall dark and handsome guys? I like mine with pot bellies lol”. I was a little too infuriated at her attempts to justify or try to avoid the obvious issue with the comparison of the two women. Of the 20 women I spoke to about this post 15 were black and 5 were white and most agreed it was colourism. Only one white woman questioned what we were supposed to be looking at in the picture, I also spoke to 5 males 4 of whom were black and 1 white who agreed that it was colourism. Now that isn’t a survey worthy of statistical analysis but if everyone is seeing the same thing am I really that wrong?
Here are a few screen grabs from my conversations on twitter and Facebook:
My point is that comparing any two human beings based on looks or outer appearance is just plain wrong. What is the intention if not to make one feel more inferior than the other, we as black people have endured so much to now turn on ourselves and further inferiority complexes. What bothers me as a “light-skinned” women is the fact that once again men have decided to dissect us, they have made our colour a debate, they are fetishizing us. The same men who commented have mothers and sisters and daughters of different coloured skin but yet they see no harm when it comes to commenting on this photo. I have always found all shades beautiful and for one I loathe being called “yellow bone” or “red bone” as it’s demeaning…I am more than my hair, my teeth, my clothes, my height or weight or colour.
Just to give you a taste of the commentary under the article here are some screengrabs from the radio’s page that show that these women were judged about intellect or their viability as wives. I haven’t blurred out Elikem because he made the most sense out of all these men. Oh wait for the dude who says he picks B cos he wants “light children”!
Using your platform to inform young people is one thing but using it to promote this kind of dangerous conversation centered around women and their colour is unacceptable.
By the way if you read this I have this to say, if three women don’t agree with the post and voice their opinions, how about you don’t delete our comments from your page like you so clearly did when I went to find them today! Start a conversation about why it’s a problem to post that, don’t run away from the conversation that so clearly needs to be had. Just do BETTER!!!