Lupita Nyong'o Shared Her Experiences with Colorism on 'BBC Newsnight'
'Colorism is the daughter of racism in a world that rewards lighter skin over darker skin,' the actress said.
In an interview with BBC Newsnight last night ahead of the release of her children's book Sulwe, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o shared her experiences with colorism—the prejudice against those with darker skin. Similar to the main character in her book, whose skin is the color of midnight and darker than everyone in her family, Nyong'o speaks candidly about how she grew up being uncomfortable with her dark skin and describes her book as a mirror for other dark-skinned girls.
Colorism is still a contentious issue especially in the Black community. Despite dark-skinned women constantly sharing their lived experiences and the challenges they've encountered compared to their light-skinned counterparts, colorism is a topic that is still shrouded in denialism and limiting archetypes. ABC's popular show Black-ish attempted to address the issue in its "Black Like Us" episode while actress and show-runner Issa Rae has spoken about how she wants to change the way dark-skinned women are portrayed in television and film.
Growing up in Kenya, in a society with predominantly Black people, Nyong'o explains how she felt judged because of her dark skin and the general expectation of having to ascribe to Eurocentric standards of beauty. She said that, "I definitely grew up feeling uncomfortable with my skin color because I felt like the world around me awarded lighter skin". She also went on to add that, "Race is a very social construct, one that I didn't have to ascribe to on a daily basis growing up. As much as I was experiencing colorism in Kenya, I wasn't aware that I belonged to a race called Black because suddenly the term Black was being ascribed to me and it meant certain things that I was not accustomed to."
Recently, Nyong'o appeared on the The Tonight Show, Starring Jimmy Fallon and spoke about her excited reaction to being mentioned in Beyoncé and Wizkid's "Brown Skin Girl", a lyric which has since become an anthem especially among dark-skinned women.