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WTF: Colourism med Linasha

Säsong 2 Avsnitt 2

Colourism 💫

I det här avsnittet av What The Fluff gästas Estrid av Tinasha, för att tala om colourism och hennes erfarenheter med det. Tinasha har upplevt diskriminering i olika former baserat på sin hudfärg hela sitt liv, och beskriver det strukturella förtrycket som colourism orsakar, specifikt i Sydostasien. Hon beskriver colourism som en direkt effekt av vit makt och ger exempel på situationer då personer med ljusare hudton ses som ”bättre” i samhällets ögon.

Vad är “What The Fluff”?

Det bästa sättet att skapa förståelse och empati mellan människor är att prata om saker. Dem viktiga, svåra sakerna. Därför skapade Estrid ”What The Fluff”: en IGTV serie där vi bjöd in olika profiler för att prata om svåra saker. Från att bekämpa ätstörningar, till hur det är att leva med en kronisk sjukdom, och vikten av att stötta unga transpersoner - våra gäster har delat med sig om sina personliga erfarenheter kring en mängd olika ämnen, och hjälpt oss skapa en trygg miljö att prata i.

Klicka här för att läsa en transkribering 👀

Everyone, my name is Linasha, and I'm here today with Estrid to talk about colourism as part of the series What The Fluff.

So I guess a little bit of introduction about myself, I'm a darker-skinned, South Asian woman born in Sri Lanka, and I really want to talk about specifically my experiences with colorism in itself. But first off, I guess what is colorism? I would say it's a hierarchical structure based on skin tone. So if we use terms like whiteness, so the dark you are, the more discrimination, hate, abuse, violence you're afflicted upon. So I think it's even more sinister and insidious than just being perceived like less than beautiful, less than desirable, even just less than desirable and less attractive.

I think it's a process of dehumanizing an individual purely based on their skin colour. That you're less than worthy, you're basically nothing because of your skin colour, your skin tone. That you are ugly, you are unattractive, you're poor, that you are evil.

I would say that's one of the whole processes. I would say it's very insidious because there is no way… I would say it's really, really insidious, because from the very beginning since I was born, I have been facing colourism. The colourism I have faced has come to the point where it is deeply psychological. It has affected me mentally, emotionally, and physically. And it has taken me years and years to get to a point where I'm confident like this, to even show my face and speak about it with you guys today. Another good thing to talk about is where does this colourism stem from? But if I'm really specifically talking about colourism in South Asia, I think there's a massive misconception that colourism arrived during the British Empire and colonialism and things like that. But I think that's intellectually false and I think it existed a lot longer, before that. I think the seeds were already planted and the British really solidified and made this into a whole class hierarchy, colourist structure.

If we continue to talk about colourism in South Asia, where can we see it? We can see it all over Bollywood, Hollywood, it's everywhere. They will never show you darker-skinned South Asians. They would never show someone like me in a movie. They would never do it. What they will show is a white person dressed up in South Asian clothing, cultural clothing, just to play a lead because they're fair or because of blue eyes or they have blonde hair.

I think it so maddens and is so insane to me that some people in the West have no idea that darker-skinned South Asians like me exist. And it kills me because I have to constantly explain myself, that I exist, first of all. It's almost as if I don't exist at all in this space, like this whole frame.

It is really weird. I think another weird thing about this whole scenario is how they have managed to capitalize off colourism in South Asia because skin bleaching and whitening creams are a massive, massive million-dollar industry. And yes, fair enough, they have changed the names of their products. But regardless, I'm gonna say f** "fair & lovely" first of all, no matter how many times you change the name of your product, it doesn't matter. You're still going to be a product that has inflicted that internalized hate on us. When you think about skin bleaching and whitening creams, it's an actual process that a lot of dark-skinned people go through because the worry is that you're never going to be married because you're too dark. You just you're not marriage worthy. You're not going to be able to do that or you're not going to be accepted in your workplace. It's honestly structural and institutional and systemic at this point.

It is institutional and systemic because even when we think about incarceration and look at how many darker-skinned black men are incarcerated. It's a lot more than their white counterparts. It's an incredible amount more and I think that's the insidious nature of colourism. And if you want to go deeper, like when you think about colourism, I think it's also much more of a byproduct of white supremacy, because it's almost as if, like, white is good and being dark or black is wrong. And I think that's what white supremacy is, that you're inferior.

Regardless of how much you think that society has progressed, I'm still subject to heavy amounts of online abuse about my skin colour. I'm constantly berated and filled with lots of hate. I'm called like racial slurs, that my skin looks like curry, that I'm too dark, that I'm ugly. They question, why are you so dark? They say the N-word, they called me b
, which is another horrible word called me by the way.

I don't think it's ever going to end, personally. It's never going to end while we have this structure. I'm still going to face it, because at the end of the day, dark skin is just so demonized to the point that I am not ever going to be accepted and feel OK in skin tone.

I kind of just sometimes do feel like I am never going to escape the psychological harm and fear. I will always be perceived and look less than just because of my skin tone. I think that's the scary part. It is horrifying to know that. And I know that I have created a platform that uplifts dark-skinned South Asian and black women. But, I remember a few years back, how horrible people were towards us and especially towards dark-skinned black women. I remember that it was even ingrained into pop culture. People were just, like, swept away. And think of it as a norm. We had, like, people like ASAP Rocky saying that dark-skinned black girls can't wear red lipstick. And I think that's just so deeply wrong. Why was it OK? Why are we still here, at this point as a society? That's what I don't understand. I think we've gotten to a point where we've raised awareness, now what are we going to do about it? What action can we take to help and protect dark-skinned South Asian women and dark-skinned black women and especially dark-skinned black trans women?

This is why I've created my own platform. I started using Instagram from the first moment it launched (when it was like that analog logo) and I think I was 13 years old. And I was always ranting about, like, why is this happening to me. Why am I facing so much abuse at school? Why do they not like me? And I guess this is where we are today.

The only message I have, lastly, is that I cannot tell dark-skinned girls enough, you are beautiful. We are going to affirm that we are worthy, that we are beautiful, that we are worthy. We deserve love. We deserve everything good. We are not less than we are. We are valued. And if we are going to affirm anything, we want to affirm that we deserve love and to love ourselves.

And also, please, please, wear red lipstick! Wear the boldest, most beautiful colors and be your beautiful selves. I cannot stress that enough and I hope that I empower or have some kind of positive impact on you. So thank you so much Estrid for having me on your channel to talk about colourism as part of the What The Fluff series.

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