“Exploring Shadeism” Launched: Research Examines Colourism Phenomenon in Barbadian Society

Sharon Hurley Hall launched her book, Exploring Shadeism, over the weekend at Dover Beach Hotel – it’s based on research into the phenomenon of shadeism in Barbados. Shadeism, also known as colourism, is discrimination on the basis of skin shade.

Hurley Hall described shadeism as “a direct result of slavery“, and added: “The psychological and sociological impacts are still visible in the Caribbean – and elsewhere – today.”

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This book describes and examines shadeism within the context of the wider Caribbean, focusing particularly on Caribbean history and literature. It also examines two theories that are useful in explaining why shade discrimination has taken root in the Caribbean. Exploring Shadeism includes original research conducted in Barbados, and draws conclusions about the impact of this phenomenon in several areas of daily life.

At the launch, Hurley Hall explained that she’d first become aware of shadeism on moving to Barbados at the age of 12. Later on, when undertaking postgraduate studies, it seemed natural to study the phenomenon that had affected her as a dark-skinned black woman. Her research, based on questionnaires and interviews, showed that shadeism was still affecting people’s lives.

She added: “The continuing use of skin bleaching products among people of African descent are indications that this issue is not going away.”

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Writer and poet, Sandra Sealy, of Seawoman Creative Media, who emceed the launch, commented: “Exploring Shadeism marks a significant contribution not just to the analysis of the Barbadian social landscape, but to the Caribbean and global Diaspora.”

Linda M. Deane, writer, publisher, co-founding editor of ArtsEtc, said: “Exploring Shadeism by Sharon Hurley Hall is a timely contribution to writing and publishing in Barbados. Our storytellers, be they poets, novelists, short story specialists or filmmakers, are having a moment right now, some of them gaining attention beyond these shores. Sharon’s book, a work of non-fiction and of research, by its very nature and subject matter, is a crucial part of this new wave of storytelling.

It is timely politically, coming as it does during the debate around race, identity and #blacklivesmatter.

It is also timely as a teaching tool, as grown-ups need to find ways to understand shadeism themselves so that they might guide young people struggling with self-esteem relating to their blackness, and the serious issue of skin bleaching.”

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“At the launch, Hurley Hall explained that she’d first become aware of shadeism on moving to Barbados at the age of 12. Later on, when undertaking postgraduate studies, it seemed natural to study the phenomenon that had affected her as a dark-skinned black woman.”

Hurley Hall concluded: “Here in Barbados, issues of shade still surface at school, at work, and in other contexts. To my mind, that means there’s never been a better time to explore again our relation to both our colonial history and our current attitudes to colour and shade.”

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