Just when I thought Racism was the worst I could face with the fast approaching adulthood, I met her more sinister sister Colourism. According to the Oxford living dictionaries, Colourism can be defined as “Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group”.
I was completely oblivious to this concept until I started waitressing back in 2014 in Cape Town. The more I worked the more I met new people and concepts of socialising . One of my favorite hobbies became trying out new restaurants as far as public transport could take me because my older sister was having none of the babysitting my curiosity. Whenever it would be my black sisters and I exclusively, everything would take forever, well most times at least, first was getting anyone to help, then drinks by the time we want to order food, I was already missing my sister’s home cooked meals. I did not notice how much of a breeze eating out was when I went out with my white and coloured friends (This particular friend does not mind being called coloured). It took months before the statistician in me noticed the discrepancies . I started asking around work if it happened to my black workmates too, they were all in the loop. So relaxed was their acknowledgement of the existence of Colourism in the service industry. Some of them went the extra mile explaining how they were selective about the service they gave solely on the fact that black people do not tip. Not even most, just that all of us do not tip, as well as rude and difficult customers. Well in their defense there is an African proverb that says that there is no smoke without fire, so if you tend to be difficult for no reason, for the sake of the rest of the black community, please stop being a little restaurant princess/prince.
This is an existing form of Colourism, which I am sure makes our fallen liberation heroes toss and turn in their graves. What is it with us black people, well the ones on this side of the continent( mind you I am not very well traveled), I mean like we do not have enough problems as it is. There is poverty, gender based violence, pollution and many more other struggles we have to address, but now Colourism. It makes it more difficult to address Racism if we cannot even treat light and dark skin melanin equally. I think Colourism infuriates me more than Racism does because you are being discriminated against by the people in the same boat, brethren in the struggle for social equality.
Fast forward to 2017, I have a bag load of instances where I have had to prefer another skin colour assist me, enough for me to shy away from eating out much, I am sticking to takeaways and home cooked food. Yes I admit not the best solution but well at work I put extra effort in being equally pleasant to everyone regardless of skin tone. I use a first come first served approach to avoid as much bias as possible, it is my way of restoring people’s faith in the ‘blackind’ service. Before you get the wrong impression I am advocating for equality, not special treatment because of a shared skin tone. Skin colour does not guarantee a cut above the rest, smile to all and wait to read the character, you will be doing the world a huge favor.
Still on the inquisitive tip, my question to you my beloved (I love you all regardless of skin colour)is what are you doing towards to ending the reign of the two evil sisters(or brothers) Racism and/or Colourism. Not just long term, I mean everyday habits can help end their long tyrannic rule over your mindset. From one awesome waitress/student in Windhoek Namibia, enjoy the week ahead.