Gabrielle Union has taken it upon herself to teach her sons about something that continues to plague to black community; colourism. The actress opened up in an interview with Refinery 29 about the importance of teaching young black men to
Colourism is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skintone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group”.
In Western communities it’s thought to be a lasting relic of slavery; white masters showed preferential treatment to light-skinned or mixed-race slaves who were often the product of rapes with darker-skinned women. In Asia, the preference for light skin is linked to class as well as colonialism.
Before European influence, it’s thought that much of Asia’s elite ruling class had light skin, whilst peasants who laboured outside were darker. The association between status and lightness, coupled with the Western influence, continues to reverberate throughout the continent today.
In modern times, thanks to social media, it seems that all the women that are found 'conventionally' attractive all have the same traits; light skinned, small waist and big hips/bottom. Darker girls find themselves constantly marginalised by the beauty and entertainment industries and perhaps the most tragic of all, by their own people.
In an interview with Refinery 29, Gabrielle spoke about opening up her stepson's eyes to beauty in all its forms.
Take a look at what she had to say below!
On talking to her stepsons about the type of girls they liked:
This summer, Union is dedicated to having discussions with her three boys (stepsons Zaire and Zion, and Wade's nephew, Dahveon, who lives with them) about colourism. In a recent conversation with them, she asked the teens about the hottest girls at their high school, and requested to see their Instagram pages.
"Literally, probably about 10 girls I looked at had the same light skin, curly hair, tiny waist, butt, boobs — it was the same girl over and over again," she says. "So I asked them to show me the most beautiful chocolate sister they've seen. They say there are none. I was like, 'Why do they get exed out so fast? What is happening in your brain that is causing you to look at these women through a prism that is distorting their actual selves?'"
On showing them examples of beautiful darkskin women:
To prove a point, Union showed them Ryan Destiny's Instagram. "They're like, 'Oh, she bad!' But do you know how many Ryan Destinies there are? I pull up every Black model, women from all over the world, and they're beautiful. But they don't see the beauty unless it comes from an actress or a supermodel or a video vixen.
They have to have somebody else tell them that a chocolate woman is attractive for them to believe it."
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On the struggle for inclusion in the beauty and entertainment industry:
That struggle to be seen is something Union's been open about dealing with for years. And it's not just in Hollywood — she's experienced it as a beauty entrepreneur, too. She says brands can keep their watered-down attempts at diversity; she prefers to see real inclusion.
"To me, diversity is the seat at a table that is super tiny," she says. "Inclusion is letting you on the block and at the house — much less at the table." Union's dream for the future of the beauty industry? "Looking around where the welcome mat has been rolled out, and it’s a wide-ass welcome mat big enough for tables and chairs for everybody. Where every community is widely celebrated, and you’re actually fucking listening to people when they’re speaking and [letting them] tell their own stories."