I was not going to share this story until the end of the week because I have decided to restrict long posts to my weekends. However, a comment thread i stumbled on this morning on Facebook, really bothered me and I have decided to share my story and my view on colorism.
In a lot of Ghanaian homes, light skinned children are given special treatment. Do not come at me with the this is an exaggeration line. It is something I have had to many times even on social media correct parents for doing. Speaking down on dark skinned children in an effort to elevate light ones. In the typical Ghanaian home, fair skinned children are called “Obroni” mothers and fathers call them “me broni” my white child. The title of “most beautiful” is usually given to the lighter child. Dark children are insulted with their darkness as if it is a negative. “oh hw3 n’anim s33 bedie” look at her face like charcoal.
On Saturday morning just before we stepped out, as my son and I were deciding what he would wear to his great grandmother’s house, he said “mummy why is it that you and I are not the same colour?” so I asked why he asked that and he said “yesterday when we went to the shop and the attendant asked if I am your son, after I answered she said ah but how can a dark woman like this give birth to a fair boy like you” According to him, he didn’t like the look on the girl’s face when she said it. Knowing my son and It must have really bothered him for this to have been a conversation the next day. So, I said to him “I am dark and your father is light skinned, and my mother is even darker than I am. We as black people come in many different shades. It doesn’t make us any better or worse than the other. It just makes us unique and colourful”
Then he said no I want to be dark like you because then nobody will doubt that you are my mother. I swear I wanted to cry. Not really because of what he said but because I was saddened by the fact that this is something I actually have to explain to a 9-year-old in 2017. I have to explain that the fact that our skin colour is different it doesn’t mean that we are any less related. That he is not better or worse than anyone with a different shade of black. In 2017 this is the conversation I had to have with my 9-year-old because of the ignorance of a fellow black woman. We must be very careful what we say to our children. We must be very careful the seeds we sow in them. We must be very careful the division we create between them.
As the dark skinned mother of a light skinned child I have had many people say to me “Maame wei de3 wa wo obroni paaa o, wo nni haw” or some would say “wei de3 3w)s33 wo wari broni na wo mba nyinaa ny3 k)k))” meaning “Maame you have given birth to a white person, you no longer have a problem” or “now you must marry a white man so that all your children will be fair”
Countless times I see banter on social media and even in everyday life. Black people using skin shade (usually the darker shades) as an insult to fellow black people. “Oh, shut up there, yellow people are talking and charcoal wants to butt in” or some other ignorant statements. Or like I saw on a post this morning. If that one is a human, then IT must be from Kenya. What level of self-hate, self-deprecation and mental slavery do you have to be at to consider a black man non-human because of the dark shade of his skin? What level of negropeanism do you have to have to devalue the life of a human being based solely on the richness of their melanin? It is not just a Ghanaian thing. COLORISM is a problem in all black countries and societies. It stems from a history steeped in white supremacy, carefully constructed self-hate and a lack of a respect for ourselves as a people. But in this age of information, ignorance is a choice. Read, educate yourselves, heal yourselves and teach others to do the same. It is never too late to learn and unlearn.
Melanin is Gold! No matter what shade it comes in.
MELANIN IS NOT A CURSE