SHADEism -a Shared Narrative about Skin Tone and a Bridge Among Global Communities

We will kick off our conversation with Dash Harris and our conversation about Latino identity next week.  Today we will explore more generally the subject of SHADEISM by way of a wonderful short documentary that a colleague of mine recently shared with me.

What was originally created by five undergraduate Journalism students as a final project, has since gone viral and has sparked some serious dialogue about the pervasive nature of the complexities and struggles surrounding skin tone across the world.  What in the American context is typically considered a "black" issue is poignantly expanded in this short documentary.

The opening scenes set the tone for what may for many be an eye-opening experience.  A young woman from India (Tamul) shrouded in traditional attire and adorned with jewels stands facing the sun.  In a moment of reflection about her upbringing she reveals that the fabric that covers her was "not because of [the sun's] intensity, not necessarily because of the heat, but because of what it does to [their] skin".  She goes on to say that in her culture, "dark ain't lovely".

As I've said in earlier posts, 50SHADESOFBLACK.COM is designed to be a place for dialogue.  It is a place to celebrate beauty, to critically examine race/skin tone, and to explore the shaping of (our understanding of) our identity (around the world).

Please Join the Conversation.  Welcome!

-Carlton Mackey

Shadeism from refuge productions on Vimeo.

This documentary short is an introduction to the issue of shadeism, the discrimination that exists between the lighter-skinned and darker-skinned members of the same community. This documentary short looks specifically at how it affects young womyn within the African, Caribbean, and South Asian diasporas. Through the eyes and words of 5 young womyn and 1 little girl - all females of colour - the film takes us into the thoughts and experiences of each. Overall, 'Shadeism' explores where shadeism comes from, how it directly affects us as womyn of colour, and ultimately, begins to explore how we can move forward through dialogue and discussion.

Shadeism is a collective narrative, which creates bridges between various communities based on a shared issue. As a team, we are focused on engaging the wider community at every step, as we know it is not only our story to tell. Ultimately, by creating space for different women of colour to share their experiences, we hope to help foster collective and personal healing, within our communities, our families, and ourselves.

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