100 Shades of Black: Understanding colourism

In this workshop we celebrate the beauty that exists in all shades of brown and highlight the importance of young Black women uniting. This workshop is to educate girls on the impacts of colourism in their daily lives, and spread awareness on the importance of solidarity to appreciate and encompass all shades of brown. 

Colourism is a term that was coined by Alice Walker in 1983, and she defined it as “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color”(Shepherd-Wynn, 2017).

Alice Walker

Colourism dates back to colonial days when slave owners would rape their slaves, creating biracial children who received preferential treatment and privilege, over the darker skinned slaves (Khanna, 2010). Skin tone combined with the intersection of being a woman widely effects women of colour, as beauty standards in the Westerns society idolizes lighter skin tones (Craddock et al, 2018).

Adolescence represents the transitional phase from childhood to adulthood, and is a crucial stage of physiological and socio-emotional development (Craddock et al, 2018). During this stage our self-esteem and how we perceive ourselves is widely impacted by the world around us. Global beauty standards are deeply embedded with colourism, with a lot of the socio-cultural pressures placed on young woman to achieve unrealistic standards of beauty. 

Global beauty standards are deeply embedded in colourism, with socio-cultural pressures places on young women to achieve unrealistic standards of beauty.

Although colourism started centuries ago, the impacts of colourism remain present today, and there is mounting evidence that colourism negatively impact adolescents and adults in a variety of areas which may include: education, dating, and in the criminal justice system.

Workshop Objective:

To empower young Black women by educating them on the past and showcasing that all Black skin is beautiful. As well as redefining beauty standards of the Western world, showing the importance of including all shades of brown with specific inclusive measures for darker shades.

This workshop is appropriate for mentors and mentees to assist them with understanding how colourism can impact girls as young as 3 years old.