"Colorism" By Adja Thiam

 The images are from an Animated Short Film titled 'Yellow Fever,' which explores Colorism & Self-Image among African women and young girls.

The images are from an Animated Short Film titled 'Yellow Fever,' which explores Colorism & Self-Image among African women and young girls.

Have you ever asked yourself why women would wear white on their wedding day but black at a funeral? Have you asked yourself why white represents angels and black represents demons? Or even white representing “pure”, and black “dirty.”

Why are we hurt when “others” call us dirty, dark, slaves, and negroes? When we, ourselves, think “the lighter, the better.”

I grew up knowing all the names of lotions for skin depigmentation, not because I used it, but because my aunt or my cousins would send me to the store to get it for them. They would bleach their skin to the point of no return. They would massage those toxic, stinky, and chemical mixtures, onto their bodies. Well, I do not entirely blame them. It is not their fault.

I grew up in an environment where if you are a little lighter, you are considered the prettiest. All the men want you. So, I do not blame my cousins and aunts.

I do not blame them for trying to please their men. Pleasing them by hurting themselves. By destructing the BEAUTIFUL melanin God gave them.

I do not blame them because they are lost. If your own people do not love you, who will? If your own people do not appreciate your beauty, then who will?  If your own people do not think your beauty is beautiful, will you?

I grew up in an environment where if you look lighter, that means you are living the good life, otherwise you are broke, ugly, miserable. I remember all the girls on the television commercials being light-skinned girls with of course, relaxed, straightened hair. I remember my mother telling me to stay away from the sun because it would make me darker. I remember seeing men being so mesmerized by light-skinned girls. My mother used to tell me that boys love mysteries and once you show them all, then you are not needed anymore. I guess light-skinned girls were our men’s mysteries . They are different from us.

It would not hurt if it was “us” against “another” but unfortunately it is “us” against “us”, trying to show each other that we are “mixed.” What they need to know is that we are ALL BLACK.  

But again, I do not blame them. I speak knowingly that we are the only ones that would see a handsome black man and hesitate to approach him, thinking “Am I really his type (of course referring to our color)?. Does he even like black woman?”.

So, I truly do not blame us.