So my cousin brought this topic up and I got to thinking about the weird shit we hear growing up and it was like a light bulb was switched in my brain. This topic has been something I’ve spoken about in person and to my family, but not that much online – racism I’ll speak about a lot, but the lowkey colourist language we grow up with I just haven’t thought to talk about. Possibly because it’s a little difficult to explain, especially as a Somali as it requires some translating.
So we know that colourism is a thing across the globe and the standard of beauty is white, light and European. So because of this our cultures tend to prefer those are have these features and honestly it’s toxic as fuck, especially with Somalis. We’re black, but somehow we reject our blackness, seeing our African features as a negative as opposed to a positive. We see courser hair as nappy and defined curls/straighter hair as beautiful.
I have three sisters and out of us we have many different curl textures and the sisters who have the curliest hair have heard the weirdest things from my Mum. I remember my Mum saying their hair needed to be relaxed because it was too rough, and I used to allow it until a few years ago when she said it infront of my younger sister – it took that for me to realise how toxic that sentence is.
Somali’s also tend to call anyone <insert name> cadhey, as a compliment, cahdey refers to fair/light skin. Now when someone calls someone that lovingly as a compliment you know damn well there’s a lot of colourism behind it. As it’s insinuating that lighter skin is better and more supreior, and it’s usually said with love as well which then leads to ‘what about the darker skinned’ people. Where’s there love?
Anti-black language is so intertwined into our language that we don’t realise how fucked up it is to begin with, then we either see the light, or face the unfortunate side effects of this fuckery.