Conference aims to shine light on colourism

Colourism definition

(Oxford English Dictionary): Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

Newly formed female-empowerment group ‘My Dear Melanin’ is hoping to spark discussion on the issue of colourism and racism in the Cayman Islands.

The group is aiming to use its first conference, planned for 26 Oct. at the Harquail Theatre, to start the conversation on discrimination against women of colour in the community.

“No one wants to speak on it, per se, and we like to think that it does not exist here, but I feel that it is so neatly stitched into our society that we overlook it, we bypass it.” -KRISTIN AMAYA, My Dear Melanin founder

The organisation’s founder, Kristin Amaya, 26, said colourism, which is defined as prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, and racism are taboo topics in Cayman and she wants to change that.

“No one wants to speak on it, per se, and we like to think that it does not exist here, but I feel that it is so neatly stitched into our society that we overlook it, we bypass it,” she said.
Amaya said the issue of colourism hits close to home for her and that is why she decided to form My Dear Melanin.

“There are just so many instances, so many experiences that I witness, that I experience myself that I felt that this was something I wanted to push for. I have a little sister who would come home and tell me little things about her being teased about her complexion, her hair texture, and I felt like it was my duty to do something to cultivate a safe space, a better society for her to grow up in,” Amaya said.

She said she wants to shine a light for those who need it.

“I feel a movement like this is extremely important and I hope that this can inspire other persons within our community to {stand up against] any injustices they may see happening around us, to promote more equality within our community for all residents and for future generations,” said Amaya.

It’s about empowerment

Amaya, who was Miss Cayman World 2017, said the aim of the conference is not only to raise awareness on the issue, but also give those who have experienced discrimination a chance to share their story.

“This is a platform to share their plight and really find they’re beautiful. A lot of these women walk around on a day-to-day basis and feel less confident, less valuable, whether that is in the workplace or social environments and, you know, that is not OK. I just want them to know that. This is for them and to reinforce that they are valuable in society,” she said.

The theme for the conference is ‘For the culture’ and will feature panel discussions and speeches on different topics, such as embracing your skin tone, your natural hair texture, ways to care for natural hair and topics that apply to people of colour.

Caymanian attorney Alicia Thompson is the keynote speaker. Author Roy Bodden and University College of the Cayman Islands Professor Dr. Christopher Williams will also present at the conference.

Amaya said the conference has been attracting positive feedback, as well as some negative comments.

She assured the intention is to raise awareness and promote health conversations.

“We want to provide support,” she said. “[The conference] is open to anyone who may be interested in colourism and racism to come out and support. You do not have to be a black woman or woman of colour to attend. It is open to anyone who is interested and passionate about equality and lifting up our women.”

| For more information, visit www.mydearmelanin.com.

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