ARTICLE : COLORISM – DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SKIN COLOUR IN SOUTH AFRICA


Growing up in the time that I did, I was always a victim of being ridiculed about my skin colour. I never thought that there was anything wrong with me, however I noticed that my light skinned friends were somewhat treated better than me. This happened during school with the teachers; on the playground with my peers and of course outside school. I always had to work harder to be noticed.

Along with being dark skinned, came the nicknames, “mantsho”, “mnyamane”, all these essentially meaning “darkness”. It was hurtful to be reminded of how I look daily.

There were those people on the other hand that were slightly more open-minded. Those who would acknowledge your complexion like everybody else but they at least saw the beauty too. So they would tell you how gorgeous you are occasionally and the nicknames such as “dark dindy” also followed. It has always been fascinating to me as to where all this originates from. Being called dark dindy, I’ve understood means you’re beautiful compared to the other dark girls or you’re beautiful solely because you’re dark.

Have you realized that this subject only actually affects black girls? When you’re a tall, dark and handsome man, women dream of being with you. I’ve tried to challenge this viewpoint with my peers. How do we measure what a good-looking woman is? Her brains, do those count? How she carries herself? What about her upbringing? Can all these contribute to what beauty is? How do we raise our daughters in the modern world? The start could be promoting our beautiful skin colour entirely, and its authenticity.

Melanin; a dark brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, skin, and iris of the eye in people and animals. It is responsible for tanning skin exposed to sunlight; this is according to the urban dictionary.

A theory believed by African-Americans states that black people, including Egyptians have superior intellectual, physical and supernatural powers than other races because they have

Image Credit: Irina Garaiacu

additional melanin both in their membrane & brains (Ortiz de Montellano, 1993).

I see this theory as being a tool to our African people, American and otherwise. Once we value ourselves more, educate those that are not in the know and not publicize things that promote a low self-esteem then we may have a chance at helping that little girl crying every day seeking validation.

Moreover, if society didn't compare people so much, the media, social media, there would be no need to feed egos. Daily you see perfect people on the cover of magazines, being ambassadors for brands we look up to. Had this worked in a positive light to promote healthy relationships with ourselves, there would be no need to mend physical insecurity.

We need women that are strong willed, people that know our history, and then of course we need people that will teach. Furthermore, it’s essential that we fight against being affected by issues of ignorance in our current time, with all the above; I don’t see why we can’t win.