Tears of blackness - Emotions run high as youth share colour experiences with Spice
“A necessary forum!” That was how dancehall queen Spice described her Black Hypocrisy discussion held at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), on Monday.
Emotions ran wild as young men and women got the chance to share experiences of how they were made to feel inferior because of their skin colour.
Some cried, while others got angry as stories of being teased at school for being ‘too black’ or being passed over as a potential partner because ‘black wasn’t desirable’ echoed throughout the venue.
Young adults spoke, many for the first time, about the negative impact colourism has had on their lives, pointing out that they had only got the jolt of confidence they needed to talk about painful experiences because their role model was brave enough to speak of hers.
Jaycie Lewis, a final-year student at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts’ School of Drama, thanked Spice for bringing issues of colourism to the forefront.
Lewis revealed that as a young black woman, she has had to overcome many obstacles, some brought on because of her skin colour.
She explained that she knew she had to make her voice heard through her studies (she’s working on a one-woman show called The Ebony Experience), and that she was further reinforced in her purpose when Spice released Black Hypocrisy.
“When you dropped this particular song, I had already decided that [colourism] was going to be my thesis, but when you dropped this song, I was like, ‘Spice a my aunty now’. My sister is 13 years younger than me, and after she was born, I realised that she looked at me like I was a superhero, and I never used to look at myself in that way,” she said. “There are no forums for us to sit down and talk about this and say, ‘Yow, this (colourism) is real. It happens, and it really does affect us. People want to see self-esteem as a ‘self’ thing, but it is also very much about what’s going on around you.”
Tameka, a tourism management student at Utech, also thanked the artiste.
“I grew up with persons telling me I wasn’t pretty enough because I was black. I used to watch advertisements, and when a black girl was in it, they would say, ‘She pretty but she black’ or, ‘She pretty for a black girl’, and that used to make me feel really sad. I really want to tell you to keep pushing on this movement because it’s very good,” she said. “Growing up as black girls, we were made to feel so bad because we’re black when we’re really beautiful. I love how you embrace your skin and how confident you are, even when people bash you. It made me grow more confident in myself to see someone like you not think about changing who you are, because you get nuff money coulda dweet.”
Spice was overcome with emotion at different intervals throughout the discussion as she consoled young women who poured their hearts out to her.
Some young men, moved by the stories being shared by their female counterparts, sought to apologise to them on behalf of all the men who had hurt them.
Chanting “wi sorry, wi sorry”, the young men vowed to be more aware of the things they say.
The ‘Black Hypocrisy Movement’ as it was called, will see its next session being hosted in Montego Bay next month.