Colorism. It’s not that deep, or is it?
It’s funny how being a black woman married to a non-black man is still a “foreign concept” in our communities 26 years post-apartheid, throw in a baby in the mix and you can imagine the stares we get especially since I am really dark skinned and both my husband and baby aren’t.
In a society where I am trying to raise my daughter to love and value people based on character, not based on how they look, sound or speak, I find myself at war with society. Society has made us believe that unless you are of certain pigmentation, you have no value and I find myself continuously falling into this trap and no I’m not talking about whether you are black or white.
I am talking about being of a darker skin tone and your only crime is that you are not a “yellow bone”. Growing up I was always teased about how dark skinned I am, I was made to feel that I’m not as good looking as my inner circle due to my skin , that I was not as smart or capable of achieving anything in life, and it usually didn’t bother me.
Naturally I’m a firecracker so I don’t let things get to me but this time it’s different. It bothers me because I don’t only have friends and family commenting at my skin tone because I happened to give birth to a child 50 shades lighter, but strangers walk up to me to ask me that dreadful question. “Is she yours? Wow she looks nothing like you”. You probably thinking but it’s not that or is it? And honestly sometimes it isn’t.
However, sometimes it’s not even about the question but in the way in which it is asked. The question is always followed with a smirk or laughter as if to say you are so ugly, how you can have birthed such a pretty baby? But who decided that just because a person is light skinned they are more beautiful, smarter or even more likely to succeed? Should we not look at people based on their character?
I don’t want my child growing up thinking there is something wrong with mommy because mommy looks different or feels too ashamed to be seen with me due to the looks and laughter we get when we are out in public. Yes, it’s something small in the bigger scheme of things but we let so many things slide because we believe it’s something small but not anymore.
Colorism is not a minor issue. It is a societal structure that we are still very far from dismantling. It supports the notion that you are as important as your skin tone but that couldn’t be far from the truth, if nothing else the only thing that should determine how we treat others is the fact that we are all God’s creation and we should celebrate our differences.
Aviwe Aquino has a Journalism degree from the University of Johannesburg and is passionate about writing. When she is not working, she loves to spend time with her daughter and husband. “If You Are Working On Something That You Really Care About, You Don’t Have To Be Pushed. The Vision Pulls You.”