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Dealing With The Casual Colourism Of My Childhood

Growing up in the early 2000s, summertime for most children meant three things: freedom from school, loads of ice cream and never-ending fun in the sun! Though for dark-skinned children, the joys of the sunny season come paired with an additional accessory: the ticking clock in their minds, kindly gifted to them by the adults in their lives who reminded them to not sit in the sun for too long. “You’re black enough already.” “You don’t want to get any darker!”

These foul words are ones that many of us know all too well. They’ve haunted the childhoods of black children and for a number of us they became our first experience of colourism. Whether it’s said by a parent, relative or friend, telling young black girls and boys to step out of the sunlight and into the shadows is something that has plagued the black community for many generations. Instead of being cheerful little kids who run around playing tag for hours in the sunlight, a lot of our community were and still are made to feel like they should dread the sun beaming down on their skin for too long. Seven-year-old me was well aware that the only thing worse than the scooter hitting the back of my ankles was becoming more than half a shade darker.