In this blog I am going to be speaking about Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s new documentary “Race, Pop & Power”. The program is about the subject of racism but also touches on colourism and Leigh-Anne’s personal experience with this issue.
Immediately when I read the synopsis for the documentary, I will admit that I did not know what colourism is and I think that is the case for a lot of people. Racism obviously has and continues to be spoken about, but it is not often that you hear about colourism, so I was intrigued to find out more and become educated on the topic.
I can now tell you the difference between colourism and racism. Colourism means: “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group”. Whereas racism means: “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism by an individual, community, or institution against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.” So summarised the key difference is that colourism is where a person with lighter skin will be favoured over a darker-skinned person, and this is often seen within the same ethnic group. Racism is the idea of discrimination against a racial or ethnic group, specifically if they are from a minority.
I think it is really important that people know the difference and if they don’t, like me, they try to educate themselves. On a poll on social media 75% of people said that they did not know the difference between the two terms.
Before the documentary aired Leigh-Anne said: “I wanted to speak about my experiences and the way I felt in the band, being the black girl in the band and people identifying me as the black girl. I really wanted to explore why I felt so overlooked, so shadowed and it was down to my colour.”
I think this has been a good opportunity for her to really express how she feels rather than just doing an article. A documentary really allows a lot to be covered, so I think a lot can be learned through watching it.
Overall, I think the documentary was extremely informative and I particularly liked the scene where Leigh-Anne questioned her partner Andre Grey, who is a footballer for Watford, about some colourism comments that he made on Twitter a long time ago. I think it was really good for him to face these comments as it shows how he has learnt from his mistakes and now takes full responsibility for them.
Andre Grey said: “I didn’t even understand racism really, when I was young. We all used to diss each other, and whatever. There was never, obviously any malice in it, but again, obviously it’s not an excuse.”
Leigh-Anne also spoke about her first experience with racism when she was very young and how a boy in her class at school wrote on a piece of paper that she was from the jungle. I think this is part of the problem that children grow up with racist comments being made around them and then they also adopt these values. If every child was taught that every single person is equal regardless of their race or skin colour, then would they grow up to be racist?
A recent front page on the Metro caused a lot of outrage on Twitter when they confused the Little Mix band members Leigh-Anne and Jade Thirlwall in a pregnancy article. Leigh-Anne took to Twitter through the Little Mix account and called out the Metro for their error.
“Why is it that the two women of colour are always mistaken for each other? 10 years in and still this is happening. This is the type of shit Jade and I have had to deal with for 10 years and this is another reason as to why I was fuelled to make my doc.
The Metro apologised for their mistake, but still this only reiterated the fact that there is a problem here and more needs to be done. As a journalist student I can say that mistakes do happen, but that page would have been looked at by many different editors and I cannot see how it was missed.
Now Leigh-Anne is focusing on raising awareness around the issues present. She wants to encourage people to educate themselves around racism and colourism. She spoke about the issues around the lack of diversity in job roles and how she wanted to speak out and try and encourage change. Leigh-Anne spoke about how she wanted her label, Sony Music Entertainment, to be on camera and speak about the problem, but was told no originally. A phone conversation was then had where she expressed how her management team lacked diversity and asked for them to fix the problem.
“You can’t turn away from it anymore. And I feel like there are so many other aspects to my world that I now need to address. The problem doesn’t just lay within my label. It’s management, glam teams, touring. There is a lot of work to be done. A couple years from now, I want to be able to walk into work, regardless of what I am doing and see people of colour. I don’t want it to just be a black square. I don’t want it just to be, oh, yeah, we’ll think about it and we’ll try. You can’t just keep ignoring this flipping issue. This is just the beginning. I’m a fighter and that is exactly what I’m going to do.”Leigh-Anne Pinnock
Everyone should try and watch this documentary as it was extremely informative. It gave an insight into what people face and how this industry needs work in creating a more diverse platform for both artists and people who work behind the scenes.