Recently the whole world has been struck by the racism outburst that took place on social media, from the H&M saga which features a young black boy wearing a hoodie written “coolest monkey in the jungle” and remarkable slurs and detrimental statements about African, Asians and Haitian Nations by the American president.

I was utterly astonished by the response of the world to these remarks, while we face a series of discrimination within our own ethical groups, sexism, tribalism and our misogynist men.

In different cultures and countries around the world skin colour plays a huge role in the concept of beauty. Light skin is often preferable than dark skin as a culture and an ethnical group, that come from years of oppression and hatred inflicted by white people, making us feel inferior because of their skin color, no thanks to the media and its influence on what is seen as beautiful. Society constantly sends us messages in the form of micro-aggressions, subliminal messages from the media telling us that we aren’t good enough and will never be beautiful to an extent that is expected by society.

There is a shameful discrimination among our own communities based on skin color. Colourism is defined as “the system of privilege and discrimination based on the degree of lightness I the colour of a person’s skin…”  It’s an internalised form of racism which involves stereotyping amongst the people of the same racial group.

What is the history of Colourism in Africa? Was there Colourism in pre-colonial times? Or it is a product of colonisation? These are the overwhelming questions we are faced with because it is hard to wrap your head around the inflicted discrimination within people of the same race.

While, it is likely that a light skinned woman will be considered beautiful compared to a dark skinned, however the same does not apply to men. A man can be both dark and handsome, African societies have never had problems with that.

Light skinned girls in South Arica, colloquially called “Yellowbones” echo the same narrative. In Durban, where some historically Indians and coloured communities are in close proximity, the ideas about skin tone have taken multiple influences, because different black communities have shaped each other’s ideas about beauty and colour in South Africa our experience cannot be reduced to an offshoot Indian or American experiences.

What a person makes of themselves and all their aspirations should be what they’re judged on, not their skin tone. We still grapple with the effects of racism and see institutionlised racism today and we will grapple with and see the effects of colourism. In the same way in which we have internalised centuries of racial hierarchy based on white supremacy, people of colour have stratified ourselves based on pigmentation.

It happens all over the world from South Africa to Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, The United State, Pakistan, and England. In other places colourism has taken on an intensely political form. The lighter-skinned people have privileged access to some form of political and material power.

According to a report by The World of Health Organisation, 77% of women in Nigeria and 35% of women in South Africa are reported to use skin-lightening products 61% of the dermatological market in India consist of skin lightening products. The black market is known for importing and supplying products that have been banned. These products can be easily accessed in any of our local shops and kiosk. The desire for light skin amongst women is devastatingly unbelievable.

People wonder how an already marganlised group can divide themselves and perpetuate racial contempt and oppression against their own people, when then know how crippling discrimination  based on race, class, gender, skin colour, or even hair texture are. We live in a world were racial groups boost their own self-esteem at the expense of others. Are we truly liberated in whatever shade of darkness and brownness we have been blessed with?