SKIN + Other Things I Need To Get Off My Chest

Thursday, 9 February 2017

If I had to count the number of times someone has ever said to me, “I thought you were ____ before I met you,” we’d be here till the year 3005. 
  The issue of judging a person based on their looks has always been a huge problem. Don’t get me wrong; sometimes when we ‘judge’ others based on their appearance, it may actually just be subconsciously! We’re all human and it’s sadly a part of us, but that’s not really an excuse when it comes to SKIN.

I don’t mean concluding about a person based on their sense of style or their mannerism.
I’m talking about SKIN: white, olive, beige, tan, brown, black, purple, green.
Sure there’s the crazy topic of racism, especially in countries like America that have a more diverse population. Now I’m not implying that there aren’t people of different races here in my country Nigeria. But to the best of my knowledge, majority of our population is black.

It stuns me that this ‘racism’—for lack of a better term...discrimination? Colour-ism?—is actually deep-seated amongst people of the same race! In this case, my fellow Nigerians... (Don’t even get me started on Tribalism).

Growing up in Nigeria all my life and being a “light-skinned” girl, especially as I began to blossom into a vibrant young woman, it’s almost impossible to survive through one day without hearing comments; sometimes demeaning or dodgy about SKIN.

Some of these comments are somewhat built in a way to bring down ‘darker’ skin sometimes indirectly.

Comments like:
“Please don’t ever call yourself black! You’re white *laughter*”
“If you were dark-skinned, Chinenye, you would’ve been so ugly!”
“Ahh it’s just because she’s light-skinned, that’s why you’re saying she’s cute!”
“You drink tea? You’re such a white girl.”
“She’s fronting because she’s light-skinned...”
“That hair/blouse/lip colour looked good on you because you’re light-skinned. If I tried it, it’d be a disaster!”
“Oyinbo!” "Afin!"
This list goes on and on and on and on, and it just gets me like...

Slowly I’m beginning to realize that most Nigerians do not appreciate their own...our own.
I’m not going to be pointing fingers at anyone because I may just be equally as guilty.
When I was a child, all I really ever saw on TV, in books, even music was mostly all Westernized. Plus, it seemed like the easiest materials to gain more access to—especially with the rise of satellite TV.

I started to read books like Enid Blyton, The Berenstein Bears and many others at a tender age. I played with Barbie dolls with creamy skin, long ass legs and platinum blonde hair; watched cartoons and programmes made by white people about their own culture and lifestyle.
Sure, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing any of these things. But knowledge of my own African culture was diminishing.
As a result, up till about 3 years ago all the stories I ever wrote were based on White culture. I hadn’t even mixed with these people but just based on what I had been reading and watching since I was a child, it was almost easy to relate and write stories about them.
It wasn’t until the time my elder sister started to encourage me to read and write more African stories. She handed me a copy of Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus; this book turned my mindset around! I loved how simple and completely relatable the novel was. She (Chimamanda) even made mention of my hometown in Anambra State in one of the chapters.
I’ll be honest; I found it a little difficult to write more Nigerian related stories at first, but soon enough I caught on.

Don’t quote me, I don’t mean: “Bash other people’s culture and be biased with yours.”
Just please, stop bringing yours down.
Sometimes I almost think some of us see our own culture as ‘bush’ or ‘razz’ or ‘local’. And it’s saddening.
I noticed that we put so much value in western related things and topics but when it comes down to ours, we criticize it so much.
I’ll never forget the looks on my some of my classmates’ faces while we were in Edo for a 2-week independent mapping course. They were shocked that I had a plate of Eba and Egwusi Soup in front of me. With the amazed looks on their faces, it seemed like I had just murdered someone, when all I wanted to do so badly was freaking devour what was left of my food.
It almost felt to me at that moment like eating Eba, my own native Nigerian food out in the open was a crime.
But I’m pretty sure if I was holding up a slice of pepperoni pizza with pineapple toppings it’d be considered normal.

Why is it that some people make fun of other with thick Igbo accents or the ‘H’ factor, but consider French or Spanish accents sexy?
Why is buying clothes from large open markets like Balogun Market or Yaba considered ‘lowlife’ to some , but a 2-dollar top from Walmart in Obodo-Oyibo is considered ‘cool’ (You long as it has felt American breeze *wink*)
Why is it considered embarrassing to take public transport in Nigeria but it is more than okay to use the train or bus abroad?

Why is that watching Nollywood movies in the movie theatre is ‘weird’ and “something you can never do”?
Why is it that most of the African-centred art exhibitions in Lagos I attend are planned by foreigners and mostly attended by foreigners?

I’m aware of the economic situation now in Nigeria, it’s so pathetic.

But some of us can be so quick to deny our roots; drop it like hot pepper soup on a Sunday afternoon.

This isn't even about economy. If it were then why is racism still a hot topic in developed countries?

I think it’s something buried deep inside us—something from our ancestors—that lies to us...that tells us we are inferior to the people of other races.

You have people bleaching their skin, as if their melanin did something to offend them.

We have some people constantly trying so damn hard to ‘modify’ their features to fit that of the "White" people.

Your round nose is enough and your dark/light skin is enough, too.

Preserve your heritage, it’s the only one you have.

It’s okay to be proud of your origin.
So go on, throw two more sugar cubes into your bowl of drinking garri and keep celebrating your melanin!

Gif Source:

Big thanks to my beautiful friend, Ore

(Have any opinions on this topic? Feel free to share in the comment section below)

25 comments on "SKIN + Other Things I Need To Get Off My Chest"
  1. This post is so true... Oh goodness! I thought I was the only one who noticed it..nd oh lets not forget how tribalistic Nigerians are.. I deal with the color thing a lot.. I always hve to tell my friends, it has nothing to do with your skin tone.
    I actually hve this friend who doesn't believe she would look good if she did coloured hair I'm always like "gurl!"
    Even one time I was gushing over this very dark skin girl nd my brother was like "she's not fine jir, she's too black." My vision legit blurred. This post is so good, this is actually an issue people shy away from discussing nd you did it so beautifully wellπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

    1. Whoa that's so crazy!
      I just felt so obliged to talk about this. It needs to be brought to light more.
      Thanks so much girl! ❤️❤️️

  2. So true, we black just unconsciously be little ourselves and minds and see the so called white as superior and the best. Anyways staying through to our heritage and cultural motives is always a shameful act for most people.
    As for me I love myself, my culture, my skin and my country

    1. You're so right, Atanda! That's amazing. Let's keep staying true to ourselves. Thanks for the response!

  3. Chinenye, in the name of Black Jesus! Write your next post on Nigerians and their need to speak with "accents"...I beg you... Also nice piece

    1. Haha! Can't believe I skipped that. That's definitely another topic on its own!
      Thanks so much πŸ’—

  4. Everything said in this article is so true. You're amazing nennie, πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

  5. Nice post....An Interesting topicπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘Fantastic!!!!

  6. Black and proud
    my new year resolution was to take care of my black skin like it was light. no rule states only light skinned people get to use nice products. Am using it all daily from sun screen to spot removal till I get the glowing radiant black skin that will out shine any 'white girl'

    1. Right! You go girl! πŸ’ƒπŸΎπŸ˜

  7. Lovely article sissy. So proud of you!

  8. Chinenyeeeee!so proud of're such an intelligent young woman.I work in an industry where light skinned people are revered but my black skin ain't going nowhere!I love it too much.keep it up girl!

  9. Wonderful topic and everything you said is very true. We need to be proud of ourselves and embrace our culture. Nice one baby sis- I'm proud of u!

  10. Wondafu wondafu πŸ˜₯πŸ‘πŸ‘

    True true true! Though in the end, we're all still low-key hypocrites lol. And when we get caught, we'll try to justify ourselves -judging others by their actions, but ourselves by our intentions. I guess it's part of our human nature 🌚

  11. I really enjoyed this, you discussed this wonderfully well, and I surprisingly agreed on everything you said (I'm very argumentative). I used to think exactly like you, I never gave Nigerian authors a chance until I read Purple Hibiscus. God bless Chimamanda and you too, hopefully the greater Chimamanda in the making. Cheers!

    1. Hey there Barbara! You're so right, we need to give our own people a chance! God bless you too, lovely! Thank you x

  12. I really enjoyed this post, your writing is impeccable. I surprisingly agreed on everything you said (I'm very argumentative). I used to think exactly like you, I never gave Nigerian authors a chance until I read Purple Hibiscus. God bless Chimamanda and you too, hopefully the greater Chimamanda in the making. Cheers!


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