Documentary Short: 'Shadeism' - A Global Look at Colorism

Bleached Kwaito singer, Mshoza 
"Shadeism" is a short 2010 documentary, written and directed by up-and-coming Canadian filmmaker Nayani Thiyagarajah (a young woman of South East Asian descent), and it details intra-racial discrimination experienced by young women of the Caribbean, South East Asian, and African Diasporas, as they navigate the trials and tribulations of having dark skin and the Colorism they face within their respective communities.

We often hear narratives from people who've experienced Colorism within Black-American communities, but Shadeism takes a more global look at the issue and its impact on young women of color. Intra-racial discrimination tends to be a hot-button issue whenever the topic is broached. It ruffles people's feathers because, speaking within the context of my own (Black-American) community, folks deny the prevalence of the issue, and the dialogue never extends beyond the superficial claim of it merely being a self-esteem issue. Colorism is institutional and it's structural. Darker-skinned people (women especially) are denied jobs, are subject to erroneous racial stereotypes, and are railroaded by the prison industrial complex.  

It's a destructive message that's notoriously perpetuated by the media, fashion and entertainment industries, and the cult of celebrity. Even casting calls for car commercials require that
only light-skinned Blacks need apply.

In India and various parts of the Caribbean and Africa, the skin-lightening cream industry continues to thrive, as people seek quick-and-easy ways to become the fairest one of all. 

Shadeism from refuge productions on Vimeo.

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