“If you’re black, stay back;
If you’re brown, stick around;
If you’re yellow, you’re mellow;
If you’re white, you’re alright.”
This old children’s rhyme encapsulates colorism and its intricacies in America.
Colorism has existed since the beginning of slavery. The mindset of light skin being a trademark of beauty has long since haunted us. Even though slavery has been abolished, sadly some notions from that time prevail and one of the most common ones we encounter even in 2019 is such.
Outside the US, most countries may have freed themselves from colonization, but they were unable to abolish the mark of it’s deeply engrained thoughts of darker colored skin.
In South Asian societies there is this belief that if you are born light-skinned you have a certain privilege over one who is born dusky. From as far back as I can recall, the Bollywood songs we grew up on, the TV commercials, the soap operas all sang in harmony about light skin being the only desirable.
“Light skin color, as an indicator of beauty, can operate as a form of social capital for women. This social capital can be transformed into other forms of capital and used to gain status in jobs, housing, schools, and social network.”- Margaret Hunter (2007)
Despite the movements and progress being made in our every day against colorism, the observation by Hunter is still a reality of our world.
Recently, we are seeing campaigns that are pushing to change this stigma attached to darker skin being less desirable. There have been notable movements worth applauding such as the globally recognized Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee using women of all colors and sizes to showcase his designs, students from the University of Texas’s campaign called “Unfair and Lovely” and the Instagram movement by Tan France called Shaded. Shows like ‘Blackish’ are also fighting the stigma and talking about this very real problem that exists in our society today.
The internet has made the world a very small place and it is easier than ever to speak up, take a stand and make a change. Even though we are seeing more inclusion of color in the global workplace and society itself, we still have work to do. Shaded is a place to celebrate every shade of skin, and to be reminded that every shade is desirable!
Let’s talk about it, be about it and start to recreate a world where all the colors are beautiful. In the words of the unapologetic Tan France- “We are complete people. We get to live complete lives…. Regardless of our skin color”.
Tanveer Wasim (Tan France) is an English fashion designer, TV personality and author, he stole our hearts as the fashion expert on the Netflix series ‘Queer Eye’ and now he is pushing boundaries with his newest movement against colorism via his Instagram account- Shaded. Let’s join him and create waves!
“No more low key shading us.”
You tell ‘em, Tanny!
Hira Zubair is a Pakistani born New Yorker living in Brooklyn. She dances her way through life, dreaming of a world without borders. Wanderlust, dancing, soul connections and gastronomy form the epitome of her human existence.