INSIGHT: Shadeism & How It Affects Musical Culture []

Bloggers note: This was inspired by a lovely young social worker who bought this to my attention.

Typical day relaxing with the boys. Sports are on, alcohol is flowing, we clowning each other and discussing various “man” topics such as the greatest athlete of all time and of course females

During this interesting discussion the topic of former female super group “Dentinys Child” came up. The round table then turned to “Who’s the hottest chick to emerge form the group?”

Of course the overwhelming answer was Beyonce, but one person asked this question “What about Latavia? or better yet what about Kelly?”

Based on the photo below, both ladies are beautiful in their own right:


In the end everyone agreed that all members of the group were beautiful….except one comment stood out from one person…”Latavia and Kelly are beautiful for black girls”

Huh???? Did I miss the memo? Shouldn’t beauty be appreciated regardless of complexion?

I had just experienced Shadeism

“Shadeism is defined as the discrimination of individuals based on skin tone within their own ethnic community”

So where did this form of internal racism come from that is not only endemic in the black community, but exists within Chinese, Indian, Hispanic & Aboriginal cultures?

It started with colonialism and the “European Standard” of beauty which places an emphasis on skin colors and hair textures that exclude those of darker skin.. Preferential treatment was given to people of color who were lighter than the rest. “Lightness” allowed for mingling with the colonial masters and their kinfolk. Darker skinned individuals were essentially ostracized. Darker skin also pointed to working in the sun for long hours making little to no money. This was the early beginnings of a class system based on skin tone. Sadly women suffer more under this internal divide

So how does this affect our society today?

Let’s look at Hip Hop culture.

Here are some quotes from current Hip Hop MC’s:

Young Berg:

“I’m kinda racist…I don’t like dark butts…You know how some women prefer light skin men or dark skin men.It’s rare that I do dark butts – that’s what I call dark skinned women…I [don’t date women] darker than me.”

“I love the pool test. If you can jump in the pool exactly like you are and you don’t come out looking better than you looked before going in the pool – then that’s not a good look. Any woman that uses brown gel to set down her baby hair is not poppin.”

Meek Mill:

“My new young chick look exactly like Rihanna/A** like Nicki, but she yellow like Madonna.”

Waka Flocka: 

“Used to be black girls was the baddest shit, you know what I mean? Spanish, J-Lo be poppin’ … white women are poppin’ right now, man. They fuckin’ poppin’. Imma just be real.”

Lil Wayne:

“Beautiful Black Woman i bet that b*tch look better red”.

Now here is a video of how a progressively lighter some prominent females associated with Hip Hop culture have become over time:

Nowadays Hip Hop videos depict the MC living a glamorous lifestyle surrounded by beautiful “lighter” women regardless of nationality. As long as she’s bright she’s right.

Men are no strangers to the shadeism craze. Recently incarcerated Dancehall artist Vybz Kartel, who’s sudden complexion change shocked fans a few years ago had said this to say in regards to lighter skin:

“This is my new image, You can expect the unexpected. I feel comfortable with black people lightening their skin. They want a different look. It’s tantamount to white people getting a sun tan.”

Vybz recently changed his stance…..

This imagery has lead to people have becoming obsessed with maintaining a lighter complexion. It has become relatively common to hear “I can be outside in the sun, I don’t want to get too dark”

Is it ever any wonder why males want a female with a lighter complexion?

Much like the obsession of acquiring bigger bootiespeople will risk their health to obtain that “desired” complexion. For as little as $5.99, “Bleaching” lotions are available at your local beauty supply store. Mercury is a common component  of these creams, which is a proven neurotoxin and can cause birth defects if used by women during the prenatal period. Inorganic mercury exposure is associated with rashes, skin discoloration, scaring, secondary bacterial and fungal infections, and even renal impairment and damage to the nervous system.

As long as the image of a lighter complexion is portrayed as the meal ticket to success & beauty, people will continue to risk their lives and well being for what is considered beauty.

The reality of the way things are today can be summed up like this: Although it is said the darker the berry the sweeter the juice, music culture has it that the lighter the treat the sweeter the meat.

Chew on that one…

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