Shadeism was originally a short documentary created by five undergraduate students during our final term at Ryerson University’s School of Journalism (Spring 2010). At this time in production, team members included: Nayani Thiyagarajah (Director/Writer), Brian Han (Editor), Vanessa Rodrigues (Lead Researcher), Leanne McAdams (Videographer), and Derek Rider (Producer).
Since going viral in October 2010, the short documentary has been recognized by various news media outlets, hundreds of online blogs and websites, and numerous educational bodies in Canada, as well as abroad. In November 2010, the documentary also received the Youth Media Arts Award at the 2010 Regent Park Film Festival in Toronto.
Using what we learned during the making of the short doc and building off of the feedback we have received since, we are now in the process of filming the follow up, feature documentary.
Since it’s inception, Shadeism has grown to become a multidisciplinary film initative. We are working with schools, community organizations, and various other groups, to hold screenings, workshops, and discussions on shadeism and related topics. Overall, our team is focused on continuing to create space for dialogue between women of colour around a shared issue.
The word shadeism (also known as colorism) describes the discrimination based on skin tone, which exists amongst members of the same community, creating a ranking of a person’s individual worth based on shade. Shadeism is common in communities of colour across the world, and it is also an issue that people of colour experience whilst living as part of diasporic communities outside their native lands.
Our film hopes to examine and address the roots, realities, and effects of this issue on women of colour from diverse backgrounds, by creating dialogue and discussion that will be shared through film documentation.
Through the film, we will continue to tackle this issue from an honest and deeply personal perspective, sharing private experiences with the issue, and documenting how it affects different diasporic communities specifically within Toronto.
As well, we will be travelling to other countries, from which diasporic communities have migrated to Toronto, providing historical context for the issue of shadeism, and looking how it is consistently perpetuated in today’s world.
Shadeism is a collective narrative, which creates bridges between various communities based on a shared issue. As a team, we are focused on engaging the wider community at every step, as we know it is not only our story to tell. Ultimately, by creating space for different women of colour to share their experiences, we hope to help foster collective and personal healing, within our communities, our families, and ourselves.