1) Tell me about the time you noticed the light skin/dark skin division within our community?
It was at college, when I started meeting light skinned girls and we would always joke about our skin tones.
2) Tell me about a negative and positive experience you have faced In relation to the colour of your skin?
When I was little and in Germany, myself and other black people used to get called names for our skin colour such as ‘chocolate milkshake’. The positives about the colour of my skin and I guess everyone can relate to that is the fact that people always say ‘Black don’t crack’.
3) What are some of the stigmas society associate with being light/dark skin?
Well they (boys) say that light skinned girls are more exotic looking compared to dark skinned girls.
4) In your view, what is the source for this stigma/ stereotype?
It’s the fact that light skinned girls have long curly hair they can rock, whereas for black girls we get told that we have no hair or our hair never grows and so we always have to wear weaves (light skinned girls wear weaves as well but not as often as dark skinned girls).
5) What are the impacts of such stereotypes on you personally (have you actively tried to address this- i:e: bleaching, tanning etc)?
Personally I have learned to love my skin and this has not impacted me.
6) Why do you think this issue of colourism is highly prevalent within the BME community?
Because people constantly keep addressing it. Certain men will always voice their preferences in what women they like to date which will always come back to the fact that they find light skinned girls more attractive and this is causing some dark skinned girls to have lower self-esteem about their skin colour. I personally do not know if this is true, but I read up somewhere that light skinned girls during slavery times were treated better (according to some this is not correct). Light skinned females were allowed to work in the house (suggesting that they were slightly more presentable), while the dark skinned females were made to work in the fields.
7) What methods or steps have you personally taken to overcome this issue?
I personally haven’t taken any steps to overcome this issue, however social media has taken the step to appreciate and celebrate dark skin colour.
8) What advise will you give to the younger you?
Not to take anything personal when it comes to comparing my dark skin colour to lighter skinned girls.
9) What advice/ statement would you say to people causing the division within the society?
I would say to the people who are causing the division within our society, especially the black people who always feel the need to state the difference between our skin colours, that need to stand together especially in times like this were racism against black people is still being highly practised. I would advise younger people to educate themselves starting from slavery and how both light skinned and dark skinned were slaves and had to stick together. It doesn’t matter how light or dark you are, you are still black.
10) What can we as a community to do to address this light/dark skin issue?
Teach the younger generation to appreciate each other’s skin and not to favour one because of the colour of the skin because we are one.
Sonia, Hampshire UK