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A collective community narrative, examining the issue of shadeism (colorism), through the courageous sharing of personal stories.
Kate Fraser
Toronto, Ontario
6 Team Members

How did this all begin...?

Three years ago, my niece and I had a conversation that would ignite an entire journey – one that we are still on today.

At the age of three, she had expressed to me the sentiment that because her skin tone was darker, this would keep her from being considered beautiful. In her child’s mind, she had already made the connection that in this world even her skin tone would matter – especially as a girl.

This issue of skin tone, of certain shades being considered "better" than others, was never missing from conversation while growing up. Yet unlike my niece, I did not have the words for it - we were able to feel its presence in dialogue amongst family and friends, but we did not have a name to call it, and so in many ways, it became easier for me to ignore, to suppress, to normalize.

But hearing these words escape out niece’s mouth moved me in such a deeply personal way that I couldn’t run away any longer from the reality of how much it was affecting and clearly hurting so many women I loved. Maybe we couldn’t change the minds of our elders and the messages of the mainstream dialogue, but we could begin to challenge, and hopefully shift our set of “ideals” for the next generation.

In response to my niece's sharings, a team of incredible classmates and I moved forward on creating a short documentary (http://vimeo.com/16210769), which aimed to take an introductory look at this issue. Through our research, we found a name for this: shadeism. This 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.

In partnership with a few close friends, our incredible team, and our families and communities, we completed the short. In November 2010, a few months following the completion of the doc, we decided to share Shadeism online. As time passed views increased by the thousands, and messages came in by the hundreds. I spent many moments crying, reading the open and honest messages we received about different folks messages of thanks, their reactions and feelings towards the short, and their own personal accounts of shadeism. It was overwhelming and beautiful and a sign of some sense of collective growth, which is what we had hoped for all along. And since then, the support has continued to remain unimagineable, with men and women from across the globe reaching out to share how much the film has meant to them.

Why are we keeping it moving with this film?

For too many of us, this issue had been silenced for too long. The film became a medium to engage in dialogue, to finally share what so many had been holding inside. Never were we taught a more real lesson about the power of storytelling and sharing those stories. In hearing the stories of a few courageous women, people felt open to finally sharing their stories and beginning a process of acknowledgement and healing. 

If the short alone was able to have that much of an impact, we can only imagine what a longer film will do and mean for us all. We know that through an extended feature documentary, we will be able to dig deeper, to really explore a multitude of stories, of experiences, of feelings, of thoughts on how to engage in healing and move forward.

Through this feature, we hope to continue examine and address the roots, realities, and effects of this issue on young women from diverse backgrounds, by faciltating dialogue and discussion that will be shared 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 so many different people.

Why support us?

In many ways, this film is not just an exploration, it's an act of resistance: we are resisting the notions that have hurt us, and finding ways to build and sustain renewed ideas, which focus on loving ourselves. Women the world over are saturated with images and ideas of why they are wrong - the wrong body shape, the wrong hair texture, the wrong facial features, the wrong colour, the wrong shade. We're tired of this, we're tired of feeling wrong.

In supporting "Shadeism", you'll be supporting a film by young women, about young women, which speaks to our stories through our own voices. You will be supporting a collective narrative, which has already meant so much to so many, and that can only continue to serve people in finding new ways of being brave, of sharing stories, of learning to love ourselves, and of continuing a process of healing, both personal and collective.

What We Need & What You Get...

What are we raising all that money for!?!

All the funds raised through this campaign will go towards the costs of post-production, the development of a shadeism-focused curriculum, and a self-care toolkit. A more detailed breakdown is included below. 

1. POST-PRODUCTION: To meet our financial needs in paying for the services of independent creators/artists (editor, animator, musicians, etc), who will be putting in the heart work to make this film come together as a whole. 

2. CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT: To work with our partner educators in developing a shadeism-focused class/workshop curriculum, helping to contnue discussions of shadeism/colorism from the screen to classrooms and community spaces. 

3. SELF-CARE TOOLKIT: To create a series of counsellor-developed self-care tools that can be utilized following screenings/viewings and workshops/discussions, innerstanding the triggering nature of the film's content.

We got love for your love...

The perks of supporting "Shadeism" range from special thank you's in our film credits, to personalized letters, to spa specials, to private yoga sessions, to photo prints from beautiful photographers, and even the possibility of receving an associate producer credit in our film (!). We are so grateful to all of our incredible friends, who have donate services and their own work, in helping us thank you for your beautiful support.

If we don't reach our goal...

Our sincere hope is that we will! But in the case that we don't, we will still have to find a way to make it work. Based on what we are able to raise, we will still allocate funds to each area mentioned. We will inevitably have to hold back on post-production and scaling back on our vision may be a reality, one we hopefully don't have to face. Still, this focus of this entire film is making sure it is completed to the best of our ability, and is made available and accessible to folks people across the globe. 

There are so many more ways to support...

Any help is sincerely appreciated! We are young storytellers and artists on tight budgets, so we know that it isn't always easy to support financially. But we sincerely appreciate the many other ways in which folks have can still show love for the film! We wouldn't be where we are without all the people who shared our original short three years ago - they emailed it, blogged about it, Facebook'd it, Tweeted it, Tumblr'd about it. They did everything they could to get the word out and continue the dialogue. Our online community were the ones who made noise and made sure more folks had access to the film

So even if you could take a few minutes to share this campaign and our trailer, that would make a world of difference to this dream of ours. You can easily use the Indiegogo share tools, as well as copy the link and share that way! Your one share could be the defining action, that leads to a donation, which helps us reach our goal!

Thank you all, for your support. We are forever grateful for your love, kindness, trust, and generosity. ♥.

From our hearts to yours,
The "Shadeism" Team


Find This Campaign On
raised by 173 people in 1 month
103% funded
No time left
$15,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on March 17, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Shout Out!

    Your name in the credits of Shadeism: Digging Deeper. Thanks contributor fam!

    29 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2014

    4 Page Letter!

    Well... not 4 whole pages..! But Aaliyah had the right idea. We will send you a personalized, handwritten thank you letter from Shadeism: Digging Deeper Director, Nayani Thiyagarajah, and she'll enclose it with a kiss. Plus a thank you in the films credits.

    25 out of 25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $50USD
    The Film!

    A digital download of the film. This is the only way to see the piece before its official release! Super-exclusive! Plus your name in the credits!

    51 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2014
  • $100USD
    Jazzy Prints!

    An original animation print from the film by the wonderful Jazz Joy Lee. Plus your name in the credits! (Available wherever mail goes).

    13 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $100USD
    Yoga Jam!

    Not for toast but equally delicious! A private yoga session with Jamilah of Brown Girl Yoga (exclusively in Toronto area). With a personalized thank you letter! Plus you name in the credits!

    2 out of 3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013

    Pokey Pokey!

    Acupuncture session with Amrit of Drop the Needle (exclusively in Toronto area). With a personalized thank you letter! Plus your name in the credits! Check out www.droptheneedle.ca, for more details on Amrit's beautiful practice.

    3 out of 3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $250USD
    Sweet-Up Session!

    Surprise! You're already sweet! But treat yourself anyway - to a make-up, manicure, hair, full-body wax ... whatever your pleasure! Select any services up to $250 value from Asha Arabia's services (exclusively in Toronto area)! With a personalized thank you letter! Plus your name in the credits! www.ashaarabia.com.

    2 out of 15 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $500USD
    Che's Kothari Originals!

    Good people and positive vibes photographer Che Kothari has donated signed prints to Shadeism: Digging Deeper supporters. With a personalized thank you letter! Plus your name in the credits! Check out www.chekothari.com for more on Che's work!

    3 out of 15 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $1,000USD
    Associate Producer Credit!

    An associate producer credit. Like a boss. (Plus a personalized thank you letter!)

    3 out of 4 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2014
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