When British dual-heritage actor Thandie Newton was cast as Olanna, the voluptuous, brown-skinned and beautiful Igbo heroine of the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel Half of a Yellow Sun, there was a furore.There was..? Apparently so, according to singer Kele Okereke.
An online petition sprang up, demanding the film be recast.Clearly, this furore passed me by. Is it 'cos I is white?
This reaction seems to highlight a worrying trend throughout the media in which the dark-skinned black woman seems almost non-existent. We rarely see her dancing in R&B videos: she has been replaced as the love interest by her light-skinned or white sisters. We do not even see her in the faces of our black female pop stars. Take Rihanna, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, all light-skinned with European features and blond weaves.Oh, clearly, it is..!
Where have all our dark-skinned sisters gone? What does it mean that the only acceptable black faces are light-skinned? This is the reality of colourism.WTAF?
Colourism refers to discrimination based on skin colour. Typically it disadvantages dark-skinned people, and privileges those with lighter skin./facepalm
Dark Girls, a 2011 documentary by American film-makers Bill Duke and D Channsin Berry, sought to rip the lid off colourism. For more than an hour, dark-skinned black women shared their feelings of rejection, sexual objectification and marginalisation.But no, wait! This isn't a diatribe against the 'racist' white society, as you might expect:
In one of the more harrowing segments it reported a new version of the 1940s doll experiment by Kenneth and Mamie Clark, which had children select a white or a black doll (they typically chose white), and showed how black children had internalised racist ideas. In the updated version, black children favoured light‑skinned dolls over dark-skinned dolls.See?
God help us if the gingers get wind of this new 'ism'!