We need to talk about light-skinned privilege

Media Diversified

Kristel Tracey talks about the importance of acknowledging light-skinned privilege amongst black communities

If you is white, you’s alright,

if you’s brown, stick around,

but if you’s black,

get back.

Almost seventy years ago, American blues singer Big Bill Broonzy sang of the racial hierarchy in place under America’s Jim Crow system.

Colourism. Shadism. #teamlightskin. #teamdarkskin. Divide and conquer, make one group believe they’re better than the other (but always inferior to white). Perhaps one of the most harmful remnants of colonisation and slavery was the internalisation of these cancerous notions, which persist across continents and cultures to this day.

To borrow the definition provided by Edward Ademolu, colourism (or shadism) “…is an intra-racial complexion-based hierarchy, that often affords societal, cultural, economic privileges and favouritism for/towards lighter-skinned people and discrimination against those with darker complexions. Some academics have even proposed that this may influence a persons’ life chances as…

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