The BBC presenter Tina Daheley has joined the debate on colourism, stating the privilege associated with light skin “is real.”
Daheley, the daughter of first generation Asian parents from Tanzania and Nairobi, tweeted a link to a story which asked: “Do light-skinned black women have it easier in showbiz?”
The newsreader added her own comment to the link and said: “As someone of Asian heritage with dark skin I can tell you that light-skin privilege is REAL.”
A few hours later, while tweeting about Love Island, she added: “When you’re secretly praying that the person with the darkest (natural) hue gets picked and they don’t and it makes you sad.”
Colourism, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.”
A debate about the issue has been growing in recent months. In April, the TV and radio presenter Maya Jama apologised after a tweet was unearthed from 2012, in which she said: ”‘Dark skin b***** shaving their head expecting to look like Amber Rose, when really they end up looking like Micheal Jordan.’ Looooooooool.′”
Skin-whitening products have become more controversial in recent years, and in India, the country’s advertising watchdog has banned adverts suggesting that dark skin is inferior or undesirable.
Writing for HuffPost UK on Monday, model and humanitarian Philomena Kwao wrote on the issue and said: “I grew up in a Ghanaian community in London, where it wasn’t unusual to stay over at someone’s house and see that the family soap in the bathroom was a skin bleaching one.
“It wasn’t unusual to hear the word ‘fair’ used as a synonym for beauty, or to hear the people around me covet and praise those who were born with, or had achieved a fairer skin tone.”
In a 2017 interview with the Telegraph, Daheley, said: “I have had zero privilege.”
“My earliest memories are of our house being bricked and a brick missing my sister’s head by inches. And my dad getting started on by skinheads from the National Front. We didn’t have the easiest time.”
Speaking on the issue to the BBC, Dr Kehinde Andrews, associate professor in sociology at Birmingham City University and co-chair of the Black Studies Association, said: “If we think about the idea of beauty and what is beautiful, racism is kind of based on this idea that you have this hierarchy - African black at the bottom and white European civilised at the top.
“Essentially the further you are away from blackness, and the closer you are to whiteness, this has historically been seen to mean that you are good, you are pure, you are beautiful, you are intelligent.”