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Throwing Shade Part 4: Creating the Sistahood

Over the last three weeks we have been dissecting colourism from different angles.

When we invited you in to explore colourism with us, we had no idea we would get such a rich response. It’s not that we thought it was an experience exclusively felt by us, but this has been the first time we were in a position to discuss the term openly with others. We created this platform: Onyx Yayas, to enable Black women to be heard and listen to one another.

When our survey on this very topic was distributed, we had no idea how many sistas would respond or what they would say. The pain that was shared was initially overwhelming, especially as many women explicitly described horrendous encounters of colourism from a very young age and mainly within their own homes.

What we’ve heard has been painful, thought provoking and frustrating but we’ve done all of this to lay bare our hurts. Most of us quickly cover our exposed wounds, fearing they will get worse infected or recognised by others but how about this time, we do things differently. How about we leave the open wound exposed for everyone to see? It's OK no one will laugh, chastise, or take offence, you know why, because we are all in the same pain place and in desperate need of healing.

Let's look back over the last three weeks and remind ourselves of the importance of taking this unprecedented stand!

Week one we invited you to our table with an introduction to colourism. We looked at the results of a survey that questioned Black women about their experiences of colourism and its impact on their lives. We were overwhelmed by the number of you that wanted to be heard through completing the survey and we thank you for being so open and sharing both your fight and your growth throughout your experiences of this tainted tint we, as Black people, wear over our eyes, minds, and hearts. We asked you to listen to the cries of those that responded and ask yourself can I identify, what are your own experiences and to start the process of talking about them.

Week two we posed questions and wrote statements rather than feeding you with the age-old story of slavery and the birth of colourism. This is not the narrative we wanted to run with, you know why, because some say its due to slavery and others because we don't know any better and even worse we will never unify when the only truth that matters now is none of that’s important because we CANNOT change it, yes, we are shouting, colourism may have been given to us, but we are the ones that choosing to keep it.

How is it that we as a people, will aggressively appose and even fight against racism and sexism but colourism we won't just live with, we will inflict on others. Why? Regardless of where it came from or why we continue to live with it, it’s time to stop and realise we have the power to stop this, because we are perpetrators!

If someone walked into your house right now and said I brought the biggest piece of poo I could find and I want you to put that turd front and centre on your mantle piece for everyone to see, would any of you say, ‘yes masa’? I’m looking from Nigeria to the UK and Sweden to Jamaica, nope, no Black hand up in the air begging for another piece of s**t to store in their life. So why are we holding on to this, why is colourism our trophy of choice. Light skin, dark skin, red skin, high yellow, passable, mixed chick, coolie Ladies however you view these terms use these terms or translate these terms they aren’t going to change unless we talk about this!

Week three was a week of tribulation for us because we touched on very old and very new hurts. The old pain was suffered at different times and in different ways by my sister and me. Those experiences of colourism caused torment, frustration and anguish when dealing with so many of life’s nuances and yet they were kept under wraps for two or more decades. Us being who we are, meant we would always look for the NLP in our challenges and the behaviours we exhibited or manifested to deal with those situations, and this is what we found:

  • We are loved

  • We are loyal

  • We treat people how we would like to be treated and therefore seek to forgive over vengeance

  • We are able to be vulnerable in safe spaces and this makes us strong

  • We are wise in our approach to pain; we understand only the dead should be buried

  • People don’t know what they don’t know

  • Not all sick people have a disease or disorder, some are just clinically mean!

Oh, but when we met unintentional mean through the eyes and hearts of our babies that was painful. No parent wants to be a backseat driver in their children’s lives, not even when they are grown. We were shouting so loud so in an attempt to drown out the no sense that was being spoken to our children but sadly the sound had already passed through their souls and penetrated their minds. Before we could create the protective barrier between them and the world our children were exposed to colourism, not in the home or through family but where we couldn’t stop or control it, in the streets and the attack came from our community. The only thing left to do was support, guide and correct what we could, moving forward.

Wow, in less than a month you’ve been enlightened, questioned, and covered in open wounds which we have encouraged you to keep exposed because it's time for healing and we need your help, you need our help, and we all need to help

each other. Let’s face it, what is the biggest thing that holds you back from approaching another black woman? Don’t dwell on this too long we will tell you, it’s the tone of her skin. You may think it's the assumption she's African or Caribbean or too pretty, too young, too old or doesn't speak your language but strip that back and even if all of those things were true, if she looked like you or appeared closer or similar to you, you would approach her!

We are working with open wounds here Ladies so apologies if the burning is getting too deep but we gots to keep it real, it’s the only way to end the Black-on-Black mental violence. What’s the alternative we continue as we are? That sharp pain in your chest thankfully isn't a heart attack but it is another sista's heartache as you give her side eye in the supermarket or ignore her in the staff room or you mispronounce her name in the queue, you’re not alone and neither is she, we've all done it but thankfully don't want to repeat it so let's look back over what we have learnt. So now your sackcloth is torn can, she can, we can heal...

Onyx Yayas are inviting you to take part in a week of debate, discussion, sharing and education. Between 1st - 8th October, that’s right Black History Month, you can join us on Instagram for questions facts, imagery and on Friday 8th October, we will be on Insta live from 7pm to let you know what Black women have been saying through the week, talk with you about what we think and hear your thoughts and ideas.

Don’t be silent be honest.

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