Colorism/Shadeism Project

When I watched the documentary ‘Dark Girls’ for the first time, I cried at how ignorant people can be to how alienated they make others feel. Although I am mixed race, I empathised with how the women in the documentary felt isolated and stigmatised due to the colour of their skin.

Now, due to the release of the sequel, ‘Light Girls’ on the 19th, I have been inspired to share my own experiences of shadeism while also asking you all what your experiences are. Together, we can come together and highlight the ignorance of the colorism in our society; finally putting to bed the ‘light skinned vs dark skinned’ jokes and instead learn to love each other for who we truly are, rather than judge each other by the colour of our skin. <3

Riley: I Am Me

I am me. It has taken me far too long to realize this. Me; just as beautiful as every other young woman of any skin tone, any shade, any race. It had taken a long time for me to understand that, too.

When I was little I never saw anything different about my family, except maybe that my older sister was only half-related through my mom. But even that was beginning to grow common.

Gina: “Your Mum is Black, So You’re Black”

“You’re a Paki!” “No I’m not, I’m mixed race. I’m black and white.” “No, you’re Paki! Georgina is a Paki, Georgina is a Paki!” This was my primary school life growing up, constantly being abused in the playground and being called this derogatory word. My primary school was in Dagenham, one of the worst places a child of mixed ethnicity could grow up in during the early 90’s. If it wasn’t the name calling, I’d be bitten, pushed to the floor and excluded from being picked to participate in P.E games.

Nia: From Darkie to Lightie

One of the most common statements I have heard time and time again has to be ‘You're mixed race, you're just confused,’ and when I think about it, up until two years ago, that statement actually had a degree of truth to it.

ZeZe: “East Africans are not really black”…..Yes we are!

Throughout my life I heard “East-African’s are not really black” countless times which can confuse anyone growing up in an already confusing world. During my early years (11 years old and under) I remember having the odd comment of “you have lovely curly hair”, “where are you from?” and “I thought you was mixed” here and there from people which never bothered me. I would just correct them by explaining that I was not mixed and both my parents were African and that was that.

Kris: Choosing sides

I'm 1/2 east Indian 1/4 black 1/4 white, and as a young child, I spent most of my time being raised was mostly raised by my maternal Indian Grandmother. I remember her telling me so many times as a child how happy she was and how lucky I was that I could pass as 'full Indian' and that being of a fair complexion with "good hair" ( what ever that meant) added to my beauty. Even from a young age, I could see how she treated my half black-half Indian cousins adversely because of their dark skin and course hair.

Moniqué: No-LYE, I’m Black…

Who am I? I’m Moniqué, the product of a marriage between my Vincentian Mum and my Jamaican Dad, but “Coolie Gyal” “Red skin” and “Chocolate drop”, are some of the terms I’ve been addressed with during my 28 years of life.

Ravae: Love is Colour Blind

That incredulous question popped up for the millionth time, always with the same disbelief. “But …why do you like white guys?” With my boyfriend’s fingers interlaced with mine, we couldn’t get any further apart on the spectrum of complexion. The rich mahogany of my skin seemed even bolder against the startling white of his. As I lay there beside him, swirling his question around my mouth, I felt my response slowly expand. Where should I begin?

Nandi: Being Biracial in Sweden

I grew up in a medium size city in Sweden in a pretty multicultural area. I don't remember when I realized I was "different" from most of the other kids because I had light skin and straight hair. I just remember wanting to have bangs like the other girls in daycare; this lead me to cut my bangs myself at around age 4 or 5. I was very disappointed when my bangs did not lay down over my forehead like the bangs of my friends, but instead stood up reaching for the sky.

My Sister, Osaorion: Learning to Love the Chocolate Skin I’m In

  Well, I was born in Middlesex and raised in East London; Hackney to be precise. Growing up I never had any problems with the colour/shade of my skin, because I was comfortable with the colour as both my parents were black, and Nigerian. Despite saying this, when I was in primary school, I would always want to be mixed with something, not necessarily in race, but nationality. I grew up around many different races of people: black, white, Asian and people of mixed heritage. Even though I knew there was a difference between me and an Asian child, it wasn’t a barrier to my social development, because I maintained the thought that we are all one, all equal and all part of the HUMAN race.