There is a saying, make peace with your past so that it does not disturb your present or future. I think if all of us are to look back there are things a less educated version of us may have done or said in the past. A couple of days ago the past tweets of some of UK’s black YouTubers / celebrities came rearing out disturbing their present and who is to say how much this will affect their future. In case you do not know what is going on, I happened to find myself twitter to see a thread of anger against the likes of Nella Rose, Mr200m, Tion Wayne, Stormzy, Aliyah Marie to name a few. Somehow, somewhere their tweets from 2013 had resurfaced which highlighted problematic views on colourism. To put it bluntly, their tweets were derogatory towards dark-skinned black women. And well Black twitter was here for the drag and cancelling culture had a field day.
“A famous quote by Malcolm X goes “the most disrespected person in America is the black woman, the most unprotected person in America is the black woman, the most neglected person in America is the black woman”
Speaking from the perspective of one who is described as “dark skin” I have a few problems with how the situation was handled. Before this whole “Black girl magic” and “melanin” became a thing, comparison of beauty in the manner skin shade was, unfortunately, the norm with those of lighter shade being considered as more beautiful. But let us not confuse this post to be one of a victim post. This is not a woe is me post. I am glad for a father, family and friends who thought me to love my skin. I really appreciate those conversations now more than ever, its why such comments at a younger age were always stupid to me and didn’t affect me much. Not to say it didn’t sting but it didn’t take root in my heart. I always realised that those comments came from a lack of education and wisdom. In this post, I want to address colourism, maturity and cancelling culture.
“prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group”.
While I understand the disgust that was expressed on twitter, the whole situation saddened me. It’s a shame that for so long we had conformed to the ways of colonialism, self-hate and self-harm. All these people who have had their dirty laundry aired just highlight how problematic our thinking used to be. Well, I say used, but I continue to see such comments even in 2020.
“There was a time when ignorance was bliss, such is no longer the case, to remain ignorant is to choose to remain in foolish thinking as information and knowledge remain at the tips of your fingers”.
Colourism is one of the symptoms of slavery and racism. It is the school of thought that white is better. And is not just the black race that is affected. I see it in Asian cultures too. Black people of darker skin has been thought to hate their very being. I know and have seen enough women who bleached their skin, to th extent pushing it onto their kids as a result. So why are we surprised that there was a time when such comments were the norm? I am not dismissing what has been said but I want us to take a step back and realise not long ago we all and yes, I said we all have had to do massive unlearning on how we viewed our self and others. Some of us were lucky to have people around us who knew better and thought us better. Even if you weren’t thinking this way or going out of your way to attack others on the shades of their skin, you didn’t express that energy you have now back then. People saw these tweets when it was first posted. Why is the outcry seven years later?
I know a guy who point blank said to me “he would not have looked twice at his wife had she been black” for context he is in an interracial relationship and constantly referred to me as his ‘sister’. He did not understand why his comment upset me and it took hours of conversation to unpack the issues, in the end, he apologised, and I could tell that it was a learning moment for him, especially as he went on to have a daughter. Why do I bring this up you may wonder? Yes, his comment was upsetting, it honestly threw me considering the closeness of our friendship. So, when I asked him, so you’re telling me that I am not worth looking at twice not for nothing other than the colour of my skin? He looked confused. And I also learned something that day. Yes, his comment stemmed from all the things mentioned above but what stood out to me was the thoughtlessness of it all. He simply hadn’t given it any thought; he merely accepted and repeated years of self-hate and ignorance fed to us by society. When I look at these tweets that have resurfaced, I see the same thoughtlessness stares back at me. Back then anyone dark skin, woman or man was the butt of the joke, no one was checking for dark skin at least not publicly so why the uproar? Because we know better now? Great! You what that means? We have matured from ignorance. So yes, while they must take responsibility for their action can we also give them room for growth?
This one I am not here for it. People have made mistakes in life and people will continue to make mistakes in life, are we going to cancel everyone the moment their flaw is highlighted? And for those on their high and mighty horse looking down at these people let me ask you if your dirty laundry was aired are you sure your past is squeaky clean? If that is the case, please be sure that you walk the talk and live perfectly henceforth. I understand the frustration. Trust me, I have heard the comments but if we respond hate for hate, anger to anger then what do we really want for our society? By the example I gave about the colleague of mine, I gave him an earful, but it was also a teaching moment for both of us. As black people we have a lot of unlearning to do. We can’t do that if our response to every time such tweets resurface is to cancel these people. Someone might be thinking here goes another black girl pardoning the mishaps of a black person, but I would rather see people use this as a moment of teaching and correction rather than attack. We want these people to understand their wrongdoing but don’t we want to see them become better versions of their yesterday?
I hope that by this post we can all do some self-reflection and realise that in some ways we have all been the product of society. We are unlearning and becoming better versions of ourselves.