Ever heard the statement, “Sorry, I hadn’t seen you because we’re in the dark?” Apparently, this statement is normally presumed to be a joke and mostly directed to beings with a tanned skin. I would laugh hysterically at the “joke” but the need to laugh is clouded with the question “Aren’t we all unrecognizable in the dark?” Followed with the words “Boo…so lame!”
I arrived a little bit late last Sunday for mass. The aura was unusually charged with bliss; everyone beaming with a bright smile despite being a chilly morning. I noticed that people would throw glances occasionally at the believers at the fifth and sixth pew. Just to quench my thirst, I as well faced the direction only to realize that they had been gazing at some Caucasians who were recording a video of the mass and taking photos incessantly. There was a kid behind their pew who would try to reach for and touch one of the white lady’s hair. Most of the believers were busy monitoring each and every move the whites made, in awe. I could not fail to notice one of the young white guys whom I assumed had blue or hazel eyes since my subconscious would naughtily and unstoppably chant “Marry me. Marry me. Marry me.” As if it was a magic charm meant to cast a spell. I was surprised that the effect was also rubbing off on me.
I once worked in a mobile company during the holidays. My work was simple: usher in a customer and direct him or her to the appropriate service desk. But I would literally avoid speaking to white guys. I would beg my colleague who was known to be ’qualified’ in ushering white customers. She would beam with a smile confidently exposing her not-so-good set of dental formula, then twang words flowing articulately as she responded to customer’s queries. In most cases, there would be a long unending queue, but as rules dictated (rules which no one has any idea when the bill was approved) whites did not wait in queues but instead, directed directly to the service desk.
This experience got me thinking. Are we silently under neo-colonialism or is colorism secretly popping out of it’s cocoon? I totally fail to understand how one’s given priority simply because of their skin color yet they are in their own country; confidently celebrating 45 years of independence. We now hold this notion that light-skinned people’s life is filled with freebies and lots of opportunities and that’s why we eagerly expect a tip from a white guy when we do them a favour.
We have not made it easy amongst ourselves as Kenyans. Colorism is so alive and growing really first. I remember my nursery school class teacher; oh the good-looking (pun intended) Madam Eunice would walk to class with her face haphazardly smoldered with make-up. I would pull my face down probably thinking that the person who polished my shoes should have applied the same polishing skills on her face as well. I would then laugh thunderously and grin both in perfect synchrony, heartily commending on her good looks together with the rest of my classmates. She would smile warmly undoubtedly replying it to herself “I know” and we would crane our necks to see her reaction since she was ever in heels. She actually looked fashionable in heels; the problem came in when she’d walk in them. At times almost skidding and my fellow innocent classmates would hurriedly shout apologetically “Sorry Madam Eunice” If there is something I was poor in class with, was to participate in the sorry-Madam-Eunice part. Please, my mum has taught me how to be courteous but she has also told me that it’s not good to lie. I had already lied that she looked good, I wouldn’t lie once more that I was sorry for her skidding…naah! Sweet Madam Eunice never choose me to attempt any question in class but she would be so quick to pick on me. She would send bad reports to my parents and punish me together with my ‘black’ friends. She would treat my classmates with a lighter skin tone as angels yet I had grown up knowing that I was daddy’s angel. This actually affected my grades and later I developed a negative attitude towards boys with a lighter skin tone. Things only changed when I was transferred to a better school where teachers knew not colorism and would apply make-up skillfully. 😀 Oh, and the negative attitude also faded away when I grew up. Isn’t this what we should all do.. grow up! You don’t have to degrade someone just because of their skin color.
And have I talked about a handsome young man whom we have been crushing on each other since my first year. You know all those nice comments boys shower us with. Things happened so fast; perhaps honesty is not always the best policy because having confided in him that I was not ready to date him and that we should get to know each other better. This statement just changed everything …the feelings, bonds and friendship got soiled by a thick cloud of hatred in seconds. He then went ahead to date a light-skinned girl and he is now confidently yapping to the World saying he has only been attracted to marijuana and light-skinned girls.(Ouch! Feeling like someone just stepped on my self-esteem…Sorry, false alarm! I’m good!) These are the times I console myself saying “Guess what? I never liked you! Oh, you take marijuana? My mum wouldn’t have liked you either.”
We have reached a point where we view light-skinned ladies as good-looking, pretty as opposed to ladies with a darker tone, less pretty. Light-skinned ladies believed to break men’s necks while dark-skinned only make men’s head turn for seconds. It’s as a result of such outrageous notions that we find dark-skinned kids reluctant to choose a doll which looks just like them. Most of them will actually prefer the lighter doll; reason being we have coined ‘light’ as the real deal. Aesthetic to be precise. Some of our pretty dark-skinned ladies think they suffer from a skin disorder ‘skin tone mismatch’ and thus resolve to purchase and try out the myriad of bleaching creams and beauty products in the market. I was not a good student in Biology, but I understood the importance of melanin in my skin.
You look good regardless of the skin tone you are in and if you need confirmation, then take a look at Pep talks from my mirror one of my blog post’s.
Photo credits: Models- Lucy, William and Rosy.
Photographer- Wills photography.