One Couple’s Introduction to Shadeism

We gave our Facebook fans an opportunity to share their experiences with shadeism. We selected two articles to post on our blog page. Our second article, written by Tiffani Davis, illustrates a biracial family’s experience with shadeism. It’s a great read and please leave a reply with your thoughts about her experiences.

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My Experience With Shadeism

When I first heard of shadeism, I honestly had never heard of the term before. But after investigating it, I can say that shadeism is alive and well! In some cases, even more so then racism. I personally have had many experiences where my skin tone stood out in some way; negative and positive.

We are a biracial family. My husband being Hispanic and White, and I myself being Black, West Indian decent. We have four beautiful children. Color, tone, race…Is never emphasized in our home, but we sure do experience it a lot in the outside world!

When I had my first born, she was fairly lighter then me, and when out in public many people would ask me who’s child she was or if I was babysitting! It was insulting and scary to say the least. Although my daughter favors her father, she does have many of my facial features. The fact that people could not see past the tone of our skin threw me back. I mean what year was this?? Are people still stuck on color??

When my husband and I got together at the age of 15, his family (Hispanic side) was very unhappy with whom he brought home (me). This was the first time I experienced racism. It confused the hell out me! Here we were young, in love and color blind, had no idea that this was going to be a problem. My confusion was to the fact that I was a “minority” and so was his family…What was the problem? I was not light enough, I was not what they wanted for him. I had no idea the color of my skin could cause such disrespect.

Today we still get second looks when we are all out together. We laugh, we smile and wave. We are not bothered anymore by the ignorance of others.

We teach our children to see past color, to embrace the beauty and difference of us all. When people ask our children what race they are they say “human”!

Tiffani Davis – Guest Blogger and Owner of Tiffy’s Corner

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9 thoughts on “One Couple’s Introduction to Shadeism

  1. ed says:

    Beautiful words and extraordinary children.

  2. Maritza Gonzålez-DeFidelto says:

    Tiffani’s words are both heartfelt and heartbreaking.

    I can relate to some of her words. I’ve been on the receiving end of racism. I am 100% Puerto Rican, I have light brown hair, blue eyes, and am fair skinned. Yes, I know you must be thinking “you” have experienced racism? Well, the answer is yes, ignorance can go both ways. People judge you whether you are “too” dark, or “too light”.

    Having been born and lived in P.R. until I was 8 I did not experience any racism in those tender years perhaps because I was an innocent child or perhaps because it never happened. That all changed when I move to the U.S. I remember people constantly staring at us, probably because my parents were speaking spanish to us, and in the early 70’s, this was unusual in Souther Virginia. People were constantly asking my parents where we were from, Poland, Russia, France? My parents would answer P.R. and they would just stare and say “really”? I didn’t understand it then, but I do now, they were incredulous because of the fairness of their skin.

    In my formative/teen years, other kids would ask me about my “funny” name and wondered where I was from and when I told them I seemed to always get the same answer – you don’t “look” Puerto Rican, you don’t “sound” Puerto Rican – As if somewhere there is a standardized print sheet of what a Puerto Rican looks and sounds like. Later I came to understand that their only experience with Puerto Ricans was what they saw on West Side Story – LOL.

    As an adult I learned that one of my aunts had been constantly asked if her sixth child, a daughter, was hers. My cousin was blonde, blue eyed, and very fair skinned, much lighter than all of her siblings. My aunt has a beautiful bronze skin color and my uncle’s blood lines hail to Morocco, and is thus bronze too. I can’t imagine how she felt to be questioned about her child simply because of a difference in skin shade.

    When I started dating my husband, his parents were not happy with the fact that he was dating a Hispanic girl. They said he could “do better”. Mind you, my in-laws are second generation Italians, and Depression Children. How these people, who saw first hand what it felt like to be marginalized (they were called names simply because of their heritage and having immigrated to this country) could turn around and do it to me was unconscionable. Yet, they were, and always did, even on our wedding day, in front of all of PUERTO RICAN family members.

    Intellectually I know racism, shadeism, has existed since the beginning of time. Emotionally I don’t understand how we can judge and deduce a person to the mere shade of their skin color. Fundamentally we are all the same, we are HUMAN.

    To Tiffany and her family (((HUGS))). You are raising a beautiful family. God Bless!

  3. As Mom to Tiffani Davis, mother-in-law to Ed Davis and grandmother to my 4 beautiful grandchildren, it boggles my mind as to how this can occur in this 21st century..I experienced the same thing with my first daughter whose skin tone was lighter, whose dad was Latino…not from his family, but from the public. Being raised to Love and respect everyone gives you a great advantage but leaves you feeling confused and quite uncomfortable when you are not familiar with racism or shadism. I congratulate my daughter, Tiffani and all those who rise above this ignorance. May God continue to bless you.

    • Hi Ms. Hanney! Thanks for your comment. Our hope is that through open and honest dialogue we can move forward personally and collectively in combating such ignorance.

  4. Nikki T. says:

    I have known Tiffani( Poohka as I affectionately call her ) all of my life.( We grew up together)She is my sister and best-friend. When I look at her, my brother in law and my BEAUTIFUL nieces and nephews, all I see is a family full of love….I never see COLOR! Tiffani has never been a judgemental person so she knows how to treat people…and that is with RESPECT! If only all people had that wonderful quality that she has, this world would be soo AMAZING ! I love you and continue to be that change that this world needs! :0)

    • Hi Nikki! Thanks for your comment. Your last statement reminds us of one of our favorite quotes: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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