The idea of white supremacy being perpetuated in our country, Nigeria, may seem a little strange, because it’s a country dominated by Black Africans. But the reality is that white supremacy does exist, but it’s doesn’t exist among us because of slavery or racism, it exists because we have adopted standards of beauty and ways of life from White people, so much that we have internalized the idea that whatever a white person/persons say or does holds more authenticity than what we ourselves do. This idea is the reason why we have colorism, the most common form of internalized racism against ourselves.
As a dark skinned girl, I have been told by a light skinned girl that I would look more beautiful if I was light skinned. This is not an uncommon compliment to an average Nigerian dark skinned girl, we hear stuff like ‘you are beautiful for a dark skin girl’, ‘she’s beautiful yet so dark’ etc, all from Nigerians. Colorism doesn’t just stop at words, it goes on to affect specific job positions like modeling, video vixens, acting etc. There was a story at a time about a video vixen who said a particular artiste rejected her from being the main girl in his video, because she was dark skin. A lot of people rushed to the defense of the artiste saying that ‘it’s his preference’, simply because it’s his video. Well it is true that this artiste has a preference, but what we will not do is to overlook the fact that there’s a reason why this artiste prefers a light skinned girl to be his main vixen, and that reason is colorism. The musician in question, just like a whole lot of us, has internalized the idea that color of the skin determines beauty in a way. Whereas this belief is just as a result of us trying to look like our ‘superiors’ who happen to be tones of shades lighter than us.
This belief has led to insecurity and low self esteem for a lot of dark skinned women, making them bleach their skins, most times with horrific mixtures so that they can meet up with this standard of beauty in our society. People find it very easy to condemn women who bleach their skin, without caring to address the light skin privileges in our society, which is highly unreasonable. Colorism can continue to go on and on under the disguise of ‘preference’, but until skin shade is no longer used as a qualification to get jobs or as a standard of beauty, condemning people who bleach should be the last thing on our minds.
White supremacy is also the reason why Deola Sagoe, a popular haute couture designer, used White models for her ‘Komole’ ad, a collection of traditional designs. Of course it caused a lot of uproar on social media, because her wears were predominantly patronized by Nigerian women, due to the fact that they were traditional. We wouldn’t see Chinese designers for example use Black models to advertise their traditional wears worn by Chinese women to Chinese women. It didn’t really make any sense using white models to advertise Nigerian designers. But also it was her ‘preference’, and this preference showed internalized racism.
We also have people’s obsession with anything foreign, the idea that once a person has been endorsed by Whites, then the person is qualified. This just shows how much disregard and inferiority complex we have for ourselves as a race. Even with the end of slavery, we have still chosen to mentally enslave ourselves with the idea that we are inferior to other races. We do not only live by their beauty standards of Eurocentric features, we also emulate them in other ramifications of life.
Slavery may not be a choice, but mental slavery is a choice, and we definitely need to break through it.