S is for Shade

My bi-weekly post over at Mixed and Happy (posted last night) explores a young child’s (and my own) understanding of shade or shadeism (discrimination that exists between the lighter-skinned and darker-skinned members of the same community) and how quickly this seems to have emerged into Sam’s social circles already. Here is an excerpt:

It was a birthday party. Kids, adults, pizza, cake, the usual suspects. One of the young men at the party was getting along particularly well with Sam, my oldest. Sam has rich mahogany brown skin, and tight curly hair. The new friend had lighter, creamier brown skin, and looser curls. They were goofing off, talking about whatever you talk about at six and six and a quarter. Then the new friend said with undeniable clarity; “You know you are darker than me. And your hair is different.”

To read the rest of the piece please head on over to Mixed and Happy, and leave a comment if you feel so inspired.  It is a piece begging for input, really.


Please come back tomorrow to Mama C and help me welcome my first guest writer a young wordsmith  from San Francisco, California with a provoking piece on human nature that in his own words; “..[is] an idea that just came to me.”


  1. Does this have to do with lighter skin and “good” hair being perceived as more attractive? Or as more Caucasian b/c that is the standard of beauty? And isn’t this attitude more prevalent among women? Are the standards of beauty along the lines of Halle Berry and Vanessa Williams who are very light skinned? And what about Liya Kibede, a supermodel? She’s Ethiopian, I think. Is her beauty a matter of symmetry or lightness of her skin tone? She is perfection.

    One African American friend said that she was always told to wear sunscreen so she wouldn’t get too dark.

    This is such a interesting but thorny topic.

  2. Such a great post. Just so much to think about. My husband is the dark one in his Flipino family and his aunties used to tell him that he should stay out of the sun or he’d get too dark. He has nothing but hatred for those women. Theo’s birthparents are a similar colour as him but his birth grandmother is very light. Her kids all look very different from one another, and no one is telling anyone to get more or less sunshine.

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