Whenever my friend Michaela sends me a link, I brace myself for an intellectual cackle. This week the link directed me to Spice’s Instagram profile. Pushing my head to the side in bewilderment, I had to ask my other friend Mechelle the date of this year’s Halloween.
Spice is a Jamaican dancehall recording artiste, singer and songwriter who has recently joined the cast of the famous reality television series Love and Hip Hop Atlanta.
Spices’ Instagram was wiped except for one post. This post was a photo of a bleached version of herself. I hollered and exclaimed “White Chicks Yadee version!”
Within 24 hours however, it became apparent that this entire post was a gimmick. Spice did not bleach. This was all a part of a marketing effort for her new single Black Hypocrisy. This song addresses colourism in our society.
Colourism is the “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.”
Spice is correct. Colourism exists- especially in the black community.
I find it ironic how we black people like to call out white privilege and dictate that white people not boast about their white features when some of us boast about those elements of us that are more European than anything else. Examples are how curly our hair is or how straight our noses are. This is hypocritical. We have also seen the countless times some of our most popular artistes boast about being a “light skinned” person in their songs.
Back in secondary school, being red skin was seen as an asset. No disrespect to the young ladies I am referring to as they have grown up to be wonderful women. Nonetheless, I recall them proudly calling themselves “the red crew” or something to that effect. I often wondered if they would ever dare to refer to themselves as black is beautiful crew or a name along those lines.
I am happy that the hashtag #Blackgirlmagic exists. My sister and future daughter who will grow up knowing that they are beautiful can have a hashtag they can relate to.
However, when Spice talks about black people hypocrisy, does she refer to those of us who have only NOW discovered that we are black or that black is beautiful?
When we say or opine that inclusivity is important, are we saying so because it is the socially acceptable buzzword of the year? Or is it because we genuinely feel this way?
What about hair? Does colourism extend to hair? In 2018, we are still telling little girls that they have either good hair or hard hair. What kind of systemic self-hatred is this?
Does the hypocrisy refer to those of us who would compliment others by remarking that they are “cute for a darkie?” This was and is never a compliment, by the way.
Thank God for wonderful parents or else I would surely have had some form of inferiority complex growing up in Barbados in the 1990s and early 2000s.
I would never forget auditioning for a role in a television series and being told that my audition went well but I “just didn’t have the look”. As karma would have it, the show never saw the light of day.
I am also convinced that if I had to sit back and wait for someone to create a talk show and cast me as a dark girl as the host that I would have been waiting in vain forever. The major type cast for hosts in my generation were red skin and curly hair and that is a F-A-C-T.
Perhaps the only commercial sector which glorified dark skin (from my perspective) was in the modelling industry. I grew up with girls like Tenille Stoute, Lean Hall, Jaunel Mckenzie and Roberta Dowell showing that black does not crack on regional and international catwalks.
I know of a very prominent man here in Barbados who, when he greets black people it’s the solid “Jah Rastafari” knock, but when he greets white or red-skinned people he resorts to simply asking them “What’s up governor?” My immediate thought: governor of who bruh?
In my adolescence, many lifestyle and Kadooment bands had the token dark girl. If I scroll back enough on Facebook or even Hi-5, this can most definitely be proven. As a result, I am very baffled when I see this #Blackgirlmagic hashtag in certain circles. It can’t only be #Blackgirlmagic when you want to make a sale but black girl magic is remiss from every other aspect of your life.
Onto those of us who claim we do not see colour. When we say we don’t see colour, is this when we are washing our clothes? Do we “not see colour” and just throw everything in the washing machine? Is that what we mean?
How do we want to cry down white supremacy and some of us use the word ‘black’ as an insult on such a regular basis?
I’m never here to tell people who they should like. If you do not like dark-skinned people, that is your choice. The point is not to make you attracted to what you aren’t attracted to. The point is to make you aware of the hypocrisies that exist and the prejudices that we reinforce.
I wrote the White Privilege article with as much vigour as I am writing this because we black people really ought to do better.
Allow me to apologize for all the questions. It is my intent to have a serious dialogue on this issue. I really liked the effort by Spice and sincerely hope that the majority of her one million plus followers on Instagram, got her point. *Nicki Minaj voice* “To freedom!”
Toni Thorne is a founder and entrepreneur who enjoys a great debate, family time, island life and minding her mouth! Email: [email protected]