Little Girl

For my first piece of writing on colourism (To Be Black) click here.

I think about the subject of colourism almost every day, both consciously and subconsciously. 

Little girl, little girl
Wonder are you listening
Little girl, little girl
Struggling with your confidence
Little girl, little girl
God made you so beautiful
Little girl, little girl
I just thought that you should know

My mum would sing that to me all the time when I was younger, reminding me that I was beautiful and teaching me that Black is beautiful. Nowadays she’ll sing it here and there, or the song will come to my head and more often than not put me in deep thought. Funnily enough I was in the shower a few hours ago and started singing it out of nowhere. My mind wandered and of course I started thinking about the implications of the song and how it’s shaped me today, prompting me to jump out of the shower full of soap and write down everything that came to my mind, later enabling me to write this blog post. Don’t worry, I went back into the shower and finished showering lol. 

So here are my thoughts…

The idea of Eurocentric beauty that is so ingrained in the heads of fellow Black people, all genders included, needs to be erased as it is, in my opinion, the foundation of colourism. Of course it is easier said than done, because we’re talking centuries of this standard; centuries of colourism; centuries of self-hatred. 

Where do we start? How do we ensure that the generations after us don’t have to have the same conversations over and over again? How do we ensure that all skin tones on the Black spectrum are treated with respect? 

Conversations about colourism are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Sometimes I see certain conversations on Twitter and think we’re going nowhere. Some have this idea and this perception that those who speak on the topic of colourism are just, plain and simply put, insecure. Other times I think wow, we’re getting somewhere. But it seems to be a ‘two steps forward, five steps back’ situation. The topic of colourism has many layers to it; it is not a topic that will disappear with a few conversations. It is not something that will be ‘solved’, so to speak, in a short period of time. We’re talking numerous historical events across different communities that have shaped how beauty is perceived and what the connotations of being dark in different societies are. 

It’s interesting because I’ve watched a few videos of people who have bleached themselves and, more often than not, they quote childhood trauma regarding their skin tone as to why they go through the procedure. For some, they had a sibling of lighter complexion that got more attention and was always called beautiful. Others had to endure comments from classmates and teachers. Others had to endure comments from family members; some even from their own parents. This shows the role that the people around you play in building your self confidence from an early age, especially regarding your skin tone. 

Breaking the cycle of self hate and of shaming those on the darker end of the spectrum therefore has to start in our homes. In order for the next generation and generations to come to have fewer and fewer incidences of colourism, our children need to be socialised to view no skin tone as being inferior to another. That is my utopia. Hopefully, one day, it will be possible. Hopefully, one day, people can express their preferences without completely disrespecting groups of people. That is also part of my utopia. Hopefully, one day, we will be referred to as beautiful women and not ‘beautiful dark/light skinned women’. That is my utopia. 

I am doing my small bit by speaking about the subject to friends and family. By having healthy debates about what all this means: in general and to me. Sharing my experiences. Listening to others. 

As I said before, there are many layers to this subject. The complexities and intricacies of colourism can be spoken about and debated for days on end. And they should be. We need to have these conversations now, and respectfully, so that future generations do not have to go through what we have gone through, what our parents have gone through, and numerous generations before them.