Sharon Hurley Hall, an anti-racism writer, is the author of Exploring Shadeism. As a white feminist, I’m aware of feminism’s history of excluding black women’s experience from our activism. I want to do my part to rectify this wrong by educating myself as much as possible on women of color’s experience of feminism (or womanism, a term I have learned thanks to Allison Gaines).
My feminist reading list to date has predominantly featured the works of white authors. They made efforts towards inclusion, which is a good thing. However, I want to read the works of non-white writers, too. I source most of my books from my library’s e-book and audiobook app, and there’s not much diversity of authors in its offerings. I learned early on I need to venture outside my local library.
I discovered Exploring Shadeism here and decided on the spot it would be an important read. The topic isn’t about feminism, but I’m attempting to learn more about racism and anti-racism, regardless. Look at the state of the world. Whites need to take responsibility, listen and do better as human beings. White people are the main perpetrators of racism. We should take the lion’s share of responsibility to change things.
I purchased this book via Amazon, in the Kindle edition. Sharon has received impressive reviews on her book, so I couldn’t wait to dig in and get started.
Sharon Hurley Hall wrote Exploring Shadeism as a Masters research thesis for her degree, 20 years ago. To this day, the topics Sharon raised in her thesis are still relevant. She released it in book form to the public, to contribute to the ongoing discussions of racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s about the concept of shadeism because of slavery in the Caribbean, and how this affects people’s lives. Shadeism and colorism refers to the discrimination experienced inside an ethnic group, privileging the lighter skinned people in the group.
I found it interesting to read about the impact shadeism has on people’s personal friendships, relationships, education, employment and even people’s skin care regimes, as many feel the pressure to lighten their skin. The primary focus was on skin tone, with some mention of hair type and texture factoring in shadeism. Hair prejudice has always been something I’ve had an interest in, as someone whose hair does not conform to the typical expectation of white women’s hair. I’ve always been aware this has a greater negative impact on women of color.
Sharon conducted this study 20 years ago, and her work is relevant even now. I would love to see the same study repeated in the present. What has changed, and what hasn’t? This book drove home the damage colonization and slavery has done and still hasn’t stopped.
I rate Exploring Shadeism five out of five stars.