What are we going to do about colourism?

While colourism extends to many cultures, this post will focus on colourism within the black (of African descent) community

That Tweet (and all the others that have come before it)
A few days ago, another anti-dark skin black girl tweet from 2012 resurfaced. UK TV personality, Maya Jama (a teenager at the time) girlfriend to Stormzy (a British-Ghanaian), one of the biggest grime artists in the UK, was exposed for tweeting this tweet – a quote from a comedian:

maya jama tweet

To top it off, Maya had to apologise twice because her initial apology was addressed to ‘all women’ and not specifically to dark skin black women.

maya jama apology

Yes, Maya was young when she tweeted this quote from a comedian. However, black women have been brutalised physically and mentally for hundreds of years due to their skin tone, I don’t have sympathy for anyone who encourages this type of abuse (including the comedian who apparently said it initially).

Some were not best please with Maya Jama’s quoted tweet.

emma dab tweet 1

emma dab tweet 2

What also makes it worse is that, Maya has a black fan base and makes money from black culture (she hosted the UK MOBO awards last year). Now she is not the only celebrity ‘of colour’ (apparently, she is of Somali/Swedish descent) that has allied with the abuse of dark skin black women, that is why this post is not about her, but a more pressing problem.

What’s funny about the Maya Jama tweet from 2012 is that, AFRICAN women have been shaving their heads for decades! So, it’s funny that some believe dark skin black women should not wear a hairstyle that has been passed down the generations!

The negative connotations that come with having darker skin (especially as a woman) are palpable.

Stemming from slavery and colonisation the roots of colourism run deep, along with the global narrative that lighter skin (especially for women) = beauty, this isn’t a light-hearted issue and like racism ignites similar emotions.

What’s depressing about this whole colourism issue is that it’s perpetuated by US! Yes, black people. If black people abuse dark skin black women, then the flood gates are open for others to do the same, thinking it’s totally acceptable behaviour. The psychological abuse of dark skin black must stop, and this must start within the black community.

Slavery and colonisation were strategic in their psychological carving away of black self-worth. Many black people have internalised and perpetuate this self-hate as a fierce emotional a weapon.

colourism in the black community, racism, black men, black women

It’s been noted on Twitter that celebrities who get the most attention for speaking out against racial discrimination have a ‘similar look’. Like Beyoncé (who is an amazing singer – #beychella), the perception is they are the ‘acceptable (more palatable) faces of black’.

 Actress, Zendaya recently admitted that ‘light skin privilege’ within the black community does exist, when many choose to be coy about the subject. Zendaya frequently speaks about racial disparities and is applauded for doing so. However, If someone of a darker hue, e.g. Serena Williams were to do the same, more often than not would be crowned with the ‘angry black woman’ slur.

It’s about time we have honest conversations, acknowledging the ‘light skin privilege’ many black and mixed-race people posses. Allowing dark skin women to say how they feel, without being dismissed as jealous and angry of their light skin counterparts is important too.

“Unfortunately, I have a bit of a privilege compared to my darker sisters and brothers”.

“Can I honestly say that I’ve had to face the same racism and struggles as a woman with darker skin? No, I cannot.” – Zendaya in a 2016 Cosmopolitan interview

Even in the black entertainment industry the bias towards dark skin black women is evident. This beauty legacy, means that ‘the struggle’ is harder for dark skin black women. Along with everything else that was great about Black Panther, the concept of having a dark skin love interest (one which had a darker complexion than her male protagonist), played by Lupita N’yongo is not something we are used to, even in 2018.

lupita chad

As confident as she is now, Lupita had insecurities about being dark skin (and was mocked about it by a black NBA star last year). The perpetuation of colourism is equivalent to ‘black on black crime’.


So, what are we going to do about colourism?

Is representation enough?

Having powerful gate keepers like Shonda Rhimes, has given us characters like Anaalise Keating in ‘How to get Away with Murder’, played by Viola Davis. Nate Moore who works for Marvel Studios was instrumental in placing the Dora Milage via Black Panther on the big screen, which definitely had a billion-dollar impact! Despite this (and other exposures of dark skin black women) and hundreds of years post slavery, I’m still here in 2018 writing a post about colourism!

dora milage, black panther, wakanda
Women with shaved heads is a normal part of African culture

Maybe we need more representation in our local communities, professional and creative industries? But I’m not sure if this will shift the negative narrative around dark skin black women either. Are these perceptions actually changing? It’s hard to overcome the battle of the mind and like most psychological illnesses, I guess colourism requires some sort of ‘therapy’. The first step in this process is to admit there is a problem, so maybe we start there?

Any other suggestions on how we can move past colourism? Comment below.

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Featured image credits: Maya Jama (Metro), all others (Instagram). Post: Instagram and Twitter.


12 Christmas gift ideas for the whole family

The “Twelve Days of Christmas” carol is one of the most famous British carols, so I’m listing 12 Christmas gift ideas for the whole family! The reason we give Christmas gifts is to remember those given to baby Jesus by the Wise Men. Despite buying Christmas presents every year, we all need a little inspiration.

For decades large companies have made millions during Christmas. As consumers we tend to stick with what we know. This makes it difficult for small businesses to break into the Christmas retail season. So this year, I’m looking to small businesses for some Christmas gift ideas for the whole family.

They say Christmas is really for Children, so let’s start there…

Finding diverse children’s literature has never been easy. But times are starting to change with authors creating diverse stories appreciated by all children.

1. Football crazy Clever Carmel

It’s the World Cup and like all football crazy children Carmel is very excited! But what country should she support?! Carmel is mixed-race and isn’t sure where her loyalties should lie…find out what she decides to do.

Get your copy of Clever Carmel here


2. Santana’s World

Colouring and activity books take children along the adventures of Santana and her brother Amari.

santana world


3. Hip and Hop

Akala’s hip hop inspired children’s picture book uses rhyme to tell the story of how the main characters overcome difficult situations.

Get your copy of You Can do Anything (Hip and Hop) here
Akala hip and hop

Interiors don’t always jump out as the obvious Christmas gift, but sometimes it’s nice to get someone something for their home.

4. Bespoke Binny

A range of handmade African print gifts, including lampshades, aprons, oven gloves and more essentials to add a touch of Africa to your home.

bespoke binny 2bespoke binny


5. AMWA designs

This interiors company create their own fabrics and print designs using Adinkra symbols. The origins of these symbols, each with a specific meaning, stem from the former great Empire of Mali which span across West Africa. More recently, the symbols are closely associated with the Akan tribes of Ghana. The handmade fabrics are used to make/decorate lighting devices, cushions, throws and men’s accessories.

amwa bow tiesAMWA ties


6. Bonita Ivie Prints

Usually an afterthought during the hysteria of Christmas shopping is the wrapping paper! I discovered Bonita Ivie Prints at a Black Ballad event earlier this year. From printed wrapping paper to phone cases, notebooks and other Christmas stocking treats, Bonita Ivie Prints has you covered.

bonitia prints paperbonita - phone case



7. Celisha Books – mug collection

Another great stocking filler is the good old humble mug! Used by anyone who wants a hot drink during this cold festive season and beyond. Celisha Books has added a collection of ‘Superwoman mugs’ to their product line this Christmas.

celisha mugs


Fashion accessories tend to look the same on the generic high street, but these businesses are adding something unique to the accessories market.

8. D-Jewelsus

I discovered D-Jewelsus at a pop-up market in South London and couldn’t resist this choker. They have other designs and jewellery pieces that can compliment any Christmas outfit.

choker collage water mark

9. Korlekie

A designer weaving her Ghanaian and British heritage into her designs is Korlekie. Having designed outfits for various British celebrities, Korlekie also has a line of hand woven accessories. They have teamed up with watch brand Vitae for these watch gift sets.

korleckie watch plain



10. N’Damus London

Another small British business using quality craftsmanship is British accessories brand N’Damus London, producing classic leather goods for women and men. I’m focussing on the guys for this one! From backpacks to cufflinks and belts you’re bound to find something for any men in your life.

ndamus beltndamus bag


Beauty gifts are popular at Christmas and these brands are making their own unique offering to the Christmas market. While there has been an amazing rise in small business hair care companies, I’m going to focus on the skin for the beauty inspiration.


11. Akoma

The Akoma “heart” adinkra symbol represents patience, goodwill, faithfulness, endurance and tolerance. When I was looking for natural soap that didn’t dry out my skin I was lucky to come across Akoma skin care. Along with soap bars, they have gift sets of African black soap, lip balm, moisturisers and much more, for men and women.

 akomawatermarkakoma watermark 2

12. Bea Skin Care

I discovered Bea Skin Care at a Black British Bloggers event in October. This skincare range has been featured in Black Beauty and Stylist magazine and I’ve been using their vitamin infused konjac exfoliating facial sponges for my blackheads. They have a range of beauty products that can make for a nice cleansing gift.

bea skin

So there you have it…some Christmas inspiration for the whole family from small British businesses. Merry Christmas!


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5 ways to eradicate texture discrimination from the natural hair community

You probably think the title of this post is wishful thinking! Like most forms of discrimination, the roots are firmly entrenched within society. This natural hair movement has been amazing and empowering but there are some split ends that need to be chopped off! If they are not dealt with…we all know what holding onto split ends can do for the rest of your hair.

It’s no secret all natural hair (of black and mixed women of African descent – there are other mixed race people who do not have African ancestry) is not seen as equal! This has been propagated in mainstream and ‘black’ media including the natural hair community.

This debate is not new. So why are we still talking about it?! We’ve gone over this so many times (I hear you say in your head)! Yes, there have been many blogs and vlogs about this issue but there hasn’t really been much change. This summer the debate was ignited again on Twitter.

The hair texture discrimination debate is entangled with colourism. I understand the connection but there are dark skinned women with loose curls and light skinned women with thick afro hair. I’ll just stick to hair texture discrimination in this post.

Debating hair may seem frivolous to those who think it’s ‘just hair’! However, the by-products of slavery, colonialism and current anti-blackness mean that sometimes it’s not ‘just hair’.

I’ve only relaxed my hair once and when I went back to my natural hair, I didn’t really know how to look after it. Living in NYC, I got talking to other naturals and discovered the YouTube natural hair world and the hair typing system. I understand those who denounce these systems, as they can be subconsciously divisive. They’re only really valuable for companies to target us with products. I can’t lie though, I was keen to know which category I fell into (which is 4c, in case you were wondering). Now I realise it’s important to know my hair and not put myself in a box created by someone else. Historically, when African people (this term will be used throughout this post, referring to anyone of African descent) have been divided / put into categories it hasn’t really been for our benefit!

The debate

This is me:

natural hair, afro hair, 4c hair UK, London

Hair like mine is still considered by many Africans and non-Africans alike as unprofessional, nappy, coarse, tough, messy, [fill in another negative adjective]. Rarely would you see hair like mine used in advertising by brands, even those who ‘cater’ for the natural hair community. On social media, a larger proportions of likes, followers and validation from those outside and within the natural hair community is given to, for example, ladies with textures below.

texure discrmination 1
Source: Instagram
texure discrmination 2
Source: Instagram

There are some kinky hair girls/women garnering substantial followings on social media, but it’s been a slow uphill struggle compared with their looser curled counterparts. It’s ironic that girls/women with hair textures furthest away from European hair were pushed to the back of a movement created to uplift and dispel the negative connotations associated with afro hair. The natural hair texture discrimination debate can rage for years, but we now need practical solutions! Sceptics out there may think that discrimination in general is part of life and will never disappear, but I have some faith in hair.

We used our power to make big brands lose money from chemical relaxers and force them to sell products that suited our hair. We used our power to encourage start-up companies to thrive in a sector of the beauty industry where they never stood a chance. We need to be the change we want to see. We’ve done it before and can do it again.

The steps below are actions for us to contemplate – the natural hair community.

  1. Admit that hair texture discrimination exists
    It’s futile for us (whatever your skin tone or hair texture), to fight and segregate ourselves. We’ll never benefit from self-implementing divide and conquer strategies that were/are used to oppress us. However, if you benefit from a biased system without acknowledging it, you are part of the problem.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King Jr

Despite your privilege, you can still speak up. It’s the denial or silence from African / mix-raced women (of African heritage), with mainstream ‘acceptable’ hair textures, that contributes to dissention about this issue. Yes, we all have struggles and insecurities, but it’s fair to say it’s not all the same. Just acknowledge that. It’s not your fault that society perceives certain hair textures (those closest to European textures) to be more beautiful than others, but dismissing the issue or saying things like, “women with afro hair should just be more positive” is a very simplistic POV.


2. De-colonise your mind (it’s not easy but is possible)
We’ve all been conditioned to covet European beauty standards, for hundreds of years. There’s nothing wrong with complimenting women who have loose curled hair (compared to your own), but if you have tightly curled / kinky hair and dismiss women with a similar hair type, then you are also part of the problem. It indicates that you still aspire to European beauty standards without accepting or wanting to know about your own hair.

Words are powerful. Whether used in context, in love, in hate. Psychologically we’re already wired to associate certain words as positive or negative. Nappy, coarse, wiry, tough, messy. No matter how you try and spin it, using negative words about yourself, twists the knife a little deeper into your insecurities.  You’re letting others know how you view yourself. Let’s try and use positive affirmations. I will never describe my hair as nappy! Despite the volume, it’s actually delicate and soft (when I moisturise it). Rather than focussing on what your hair can’t do… ‘no ‘defined’ curl pattern’ blah blah blah; focus on what styles look good on you and rock them with confidence.


3. Understand your healthy hair journey
Along mine I’ve also learnt, just because someone has a similar hair texture to me doesn’t always mean we can use the same products. Yes, hair porosity is a good thing to know! It revolutionised my moisturising game and my hair thanks me for it every day with less breakage.

Don’t be lazy! Many naturals have told me, their hair is too hard to maintain and they just can’t handle it. Like most things in life, learning about something involves trial and error. YouTube was my saviour when I started, but I was also curious about my own hair, I bothered to make an effort to learn about one of my most prominent physical features. Treat your hair well and it will thrive inspiring you and others not to be low key embarrassed of their own hair texture. Do it for the culture!


4. Hold brands to account
In the social media age this is a lot easier to do. Shea Moisture and Cantu brands have encountered the wrath of the natural hair community this year, with the former making a public apology.

Remember, hair brands are businesses and go where the money is! If they see only certain hair types receiving validation and adoration, they will only showcase women with those hair textures in their advertising. It’s a logical strategy. However, if we continue to let them know we don’t like that they only show specific hair types, when women with kinky hair also make significant financial contributions to them they will start to show diversity in their branding. Also, fight for the ‘little guy’ who’s fighting for you! The natural hair movement has empowered many female-owned beauty product businesses to start up. These cater directly to us, keeping us at the heart of their ethos, so we should support them financially if we like being catered to and not regarded as an afterthought.


5. Teach those around you to love all textures
It’s not far reaching to say that many African / mix-raced men (of African heritage) show contempt towards kinky hair textures compared to others. They have also been conditioned to admire European beauty standards. We should teach our fathers, brothers, sons, nephews, cousins and other African men and boys around us, by example that all hair textures are beautiful (if we believe that of course)! Last but least, constantly teach your mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces and other girls/women around you to fall in love with their hair. One of my favourite Instagram accounts does with well in the video below!

Honest conversations are being had by the natural hair community, like in the documentary below by LAMBB, sponsored by Treasure Tress. However, hair texture discrimination will take some time to unravel, unless we are all determined to implement solutions rather than divisive strategies.

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Easy African hair threading for natural hair

African hair threading has been used for hundreds of years to style and protect afro hair. Raised in the UK; child of Ghanaian parents, my mother threaded my hair from ages 6-10 years. A hairstyle technique used by my grandmother and her mother before her. Many African women on the continent and in the diaspora, probably had this technique done on their hair at some point during their childhood.

Admittedly from age 11+, growing up in the UK, I didn’t appreciate the benefits or beauty of hair threading and stopped using the technique. Then the natural hair movement of the 2000’s kicked off! Many black women (including myself), embraced their natural hair texture. Learning all the new hair terminology that came along with understanding my natural hair, I also realised that my hair doesn’t like heat. I rarely blow dry my hair (probably 2-3 times a year – if that), but having 4C afro kinky hair, I usually wear stretched styles and make sure my hair is stretched after washing, to avoid tangles.

Sometimes I just embrace shrinkage (always liberating), which is best for certain styles, like wearing my afro out.

4c natural hair, afro hair, curly hair, natural hairstyles, how to grow natural hair, how to grow 4c natural hair, curly hair, length and retention


Like many 4C natural hair ladies, I use the traditional technique of African threading to stretch my hair without using heat. If you’d rather avoid or cut down on the use of heating tools, why not give it a try?! This is the type of thread I use, not sure if it has a special name, but it’s smoother /silky than normal yarn thread. You can use whatever thread you can get your hands on.

african hari threading


This video from Green Beauty explains why stretching is a useful technique for natural hair.

If you haven’t tried it, I’d recommend trying the African threading technique to stretch your hair. For me it produces similar results to a blowout. Below are some videos on how to do it yourself, from some of the YouTubers I follow. As always make sure you don’t pull your hair too tight!


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4c natural hair, afro hair, curly hair, natural hairstyles, how to grow natural hair, how to grow 4c natural hair, curly hair, length and retention, natural hair blogger


Is buying makeup becoming too techy?

Whether behind the scenes or at the forefront, technology has been used in cosmetics for years. Whether it be skin, dental or body enhancements. But now technology is becoming an integral piece of the customer buying experience, when it comes to every day makeup.

Walking through the makeup counters during Christmas sales in some of London’s department stores, women are still buying makeup in person. Although, as our lives become busier and with the increased use of personal technology devices, it seems nothing can escape the technology age.

I’ve sat in the chair at a beauty counter, where the MUA tries different shades of blush, eye shadow or face powder. It can be a nice feeling, having your own personal MUA whose only aim is to make you (hopefully) look good/feel great (so they can make that all important sale of course!). However, do we really need that human personalised touch or can we just do it ourselves?

Screenshot credit: L’Oreal website

To name only a couple, L’Oréal’s Shade Genius and No7 Match Made apps, have given consumers the independence to find their own ‘perfect’ makeup match.

I don’t think MUA’s at cosmetics counters will become obsolete from our department stores, but their necessity will diminish, as cosmetic brands embrace technology and put the power in our hands.


make up, lipstick, lip gloss
You can try on lipstick virtually to find a shade you like.

Screenshot credit: thelipbar.com


Even smaller brands like, The Lip Bar have a section on their website where you can virtually test which lipsticks and glosses suit you, then buy at the click of a button. You’re busy, on the go, don’t have the time to pop into a shop; select the face shade that is closest to yours and voila!

darkskin models
@Ohwaawaa is the model and face of The Lip Bar

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Is Black Beauty still in the shadows? Iman and Philomena discuss

Yes, we are still talking about this issue, why? Because it’s still an issue! There has been an effort by big brands to make foundations for darker skin tones. In 2014, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o became the first black ambassador for Lancôme. In 2016 L’Oréal UK launched #YoursTruly campaign, where they expanded their foundation range covering 23 shades.

This is all great, but darker shades are not always accessible on the high street for the everyday woman. British plus-size model, Philomena Kwao caught up with the legendary African Supermodel, Iman to discuss.

Iman face powder has been my staple for years, I love it! Before using it I didn’t wear face powder as I never found a shade I was completely happy with. Even when I had acne, I didn’t wear makeup partly because I didn’t have confidence I’d find my shade but also because I didn’t want to add anything else to my already troubled skin.

Iman cosmetics

It’s good that big brands are expanding their ranges, but I don’t think we should just give our money to them on a plate. There are other brands which have included products for darker skin tones a part of their core ethos and we should be supporting them too!

L’Oréal was established in 1909, and in 2016 they expanded their range. Hmmm…ok, I guess as the saying goes “better late than never”, can be applied here?

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Christmas: Why not have a bit of everything in a gift set

This year I’ve left my Christmas shopping late, I know it’s cliché but usually I’m organised. I’ve had my office Christmas party so got the secret Santa present out of the way and now I’m onto my friends.

I’m Christmas shopping and battling the UK winter. Trying to keep warm, as well as preventing my hair and skin from drying out!  

I like to give gifts that I would want to receive. So, I’ve decided to go the gift set route this year, it’s the most efficient!

I’ve been using Shea Butter Cottage’s rhassoul clay for over and year now and love it! My friend wants to try it but hasn’t got around to buying it yet. So, I’ll get it for her, along with a few other trinkets (that’s what friends are for!). I know it’s something she wants, so when I found it in a gift set I knew it was meant to be!

Rhassoul clay for natural hair

I usually buy the 1kg bag and mix it to a thick consistency; as you can see I’m running low (but don’t worry, I’ve already ordered my next batch).

I’ve found a gift set on Sapelle.com, catering to all my (and my friends) winter needs.


The Luxury African Wellbeing Pamper Gift Set, ticks all the boxes:

The Sapelle satin-lined headwrap – to protect natural hair from drying out during these cold winter days and nights. Wax printed, lined with silver satin.

A (natural) soy scented candle by Soy Lights, comes in 3 different scents – who doesn’t love scented candles?!


Moringa Oil and rhassoul clay (one of my staple products) from Shea Butter Cottage – a great cleanser for hair and skin. The community traded unrefined moringa oil is pressed from moringa tree seeds.

A bit of everything for those winter beauty needs. This gift set along with other African inspired gift sets and be purchased here.

Merry Christmas all!


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