The ‘friendly fire’ of colourism

Even within one’s own community, lighter skin begets greener pastures.

In his documentary, Beauty and the Bleach, Tan France shares that his experience goes beyond the racism he suffered in Doncaster, England, where he grew up.

In his native community, he was raised to believe that skin colour determines not just attractiveness and marriageability, but also social opportunity.

The stigma births tasteless jokes like, “they got dark because they ate too much chocolate or drank too much black tea.”

In hopes of distancing themselves from such prejudice, fair-skinned performers, until the 1960s, used to “pass” as white.

Latin Americans discovered early on that being considered white led to better opportunities. This remains true to this day.

In his autobiographical book Born a Crime, Trevor Noah talks about his mixed-race appearance turning him into “a chameleon” in people’s eyes.

He reveals that he chose to use this as an opportunity to change the world’s “perception of [his] colour” instead of allowing it to change his identity.

Stories like Noah’s inspire a powerful acceptance of one’s skin colour in the place of renouncing it.