Shadeism is a direct result of slavery — and the psychological and sociological impacts are still visible in the Caribbean — and elsewhere — today.
‘Exploring Shadeism’ is a non-fiction text by professional writer and media and cultural studies researcher, Sharon Hurley Hall.
The book describes the phenomenon of shadeism (colorism), and examines it 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. The book includes original research conducted in Barbados, and draws conclusions about the impact of this phenomenon in several areas of daily life.
BLK INK: What is your writing process like?
Sharon Hurley Hall: As well as writing my own material, I’m a freelance writer and former journalist, and my writing process varies a lot! Sometimes I’ll get inspiration when I’m out walking early in the morning, and I’ll have to get back to my computer to write it up before I forget. That often happens with my anti-racism essays and poetry.
Sometimes, I’m writing about something current and I’ll have to stay away from all external input on the topic till I get my own thoughts down. And sometimes I fall back on my journalism training, and make an outline, and do research. It depends on the topic, really.
My rule is to write first and edit later. Writing usually happens in the mornings, when I’m most creative, and editing in the afternoons.
BI: What three things inspire your writing the most?
SH: That’s actually a hard question. As a writer I draw inspiration from everywhere. So I guess I’d pick the following:
1. Nature — there’s something about being out in the fresh air that really unlocks my creativity.
2. People watching — I often spin tales in my head about what’s going on with people around me.
3. Current events — some of my writing is a reaction to what’s happening in the world; it’s cathartic.
BI: Why did you decide to self-publish?
SH: My first foray into self-publishing was experimental. At the time, I had a regular gig testing new apps, and when Kindle Direct Publishing came out, it seemed natural to try it out. I’d just finished writing a series of posts to help people with blogging, so it was pretty easy to put them together.
By the time I was ready to publish Exploring Shadeism, I already knew the pros and cons of self-publishing. I figured the advantages of quick publication, total control and more royalties outweighed the disadvantage of lack of marketing and promotion support. So far, that decision seems justified, and I plan to continue to self-publish in the future. I believe self-publishing levels the playing field for Black authors who may find it less easy to find a publisher before they become established.
My goal is to let other Black and brown people know I see them, and to give would-be antiracist allies a window into our world so we can all work together to fight racism.
BI: How do you think our community can best support self-published authors?
SH: In my experience, self-published authors need a few things. First, editorial support, to make sure their books are as good as they can be. Second, help with the publishing process. Though it’s not difficult, not everyone is technically minded, and it’s helpful to have backup when things go wrong (such as the book preview not looking as expected). And finally, marketing support. Self-published authors have to be their own marketing department, and that could be a full-time job in itself. Though Exploring Shadeism and my other books sell, they would sell more if I had more time to spend on marketing.
BI: What impact do you hope to have with your writing?
SH: In the last few months, I’ve been focusing on anti-racism writing, which feels like a calling. My goal is to let other Black and brown people know I see them, and to give would-be antiracist allies a window into our world so we can all work together to fight racism. I believe that the more we know and understand each other, the harder it will be to sustain the fiction of race and the system that underpins it and makes our lives so hard.
It’s a big goal which I can’t accomplish alone, but I’m heartened by how many other writers are doing the same thing.
Self-Published Spotlight is a series from BLK INK that seeks to elevate the work of BIPOC writers. Interviews are edited and condensed for clarity and readability. If you are a self-published author who would like a spotlight, check out our criteria and submission form: