During an Interview with IABNP, Adeleye Omowonuola Abisola, a final year Economics student at the European University in Turkey revealed how she battled prejudice on her skin colour to build one of the fastest growing Companies in Nigeria (Naturalle Hair).
Find out what she has to say about being black.
Please can we meet you?
My name is Omowonuola Adeleye. I was born and raised in Nigeria; Ogun state to be precise. I relocated 4 years ago where I now study and run my business. I’m in my fourth year in the university. I am in my fourth year Economics at the European university in Turkey. I’m Black and proud.
Apart from studying, what else do you do?
Well, I am the owner and CEO of Naturalle hair, a company that deals with hair in general both for girls who likes to rock natural hair and girls who just loves weaves.
I am dark chocolate.
Have you ever heard the word Colorism? What does it mean to you?
Yes I have!!! For me, it is the discrimination against dark skinned people. I feel dark skinned people have always suffered discrimination; being told that their skin isn’t beautiful enough. In the country I reside in right now, even though the level of Colorism is not too alarming, there is always that gap and superiority that light skinned people feel above dark skinned people. Personally, I feel like the tone of your skin shouldn’t define the way you see yourself.
How do you see yourself differently from the comments people make about you?
Growing up, I was never made to feel less than I am. In fact, my mum made sure to build my self-esteem so high. I’m so grateful for this, because now I really do not see the difference between a white person and a dark person; the only difference is that I have been sun kissed in a beautiful way, so I definitely do not see myself as less just because I am melanated.
Have you at any point had confrontation from a light skinned person over your colour and how did you handle it?
I wouldn’t really say I’ve had confrontations, but I could recall sometimes when I was younger where people would make jokes about my skin colour in a rather offensive manner. Sometimes, I would be offended, but I’ve grown to realise I should just put them in their place. I’ve just learnt to stop it from getting to me and if I had to tell them off. In some cases, I did.
Have you ever heard the phrase “too pretty for a dark skinned girl?” If yes, has that ever been your case? What is your view on the phrase?
Yes, I have heard of the phrase and no, it hasn’t been said to me before. I honestly think it’s an ignorant phrase, because they are trying to insinuate that black girls aren’t beautiful. This is really far from the truth, because not all white girls are pretty. Sorry to say, and that’s also the same for dark girls cause everyone is different and beautiful in her own way.
Although, my mother did a good job to plant the seed of high self-esteem in me but I also had to nurture it. I grew up knowing the Lord, and I am constantly reminded in the word of God that I am wonderfully and fear made.
Did you at any point think of changing your skin colour? Like even if it was a little wish?
At a point the thought came to me. To be honest, it did, because one of my friends bleached and she looked nice, but that was long ago. I was able to snap out of it. I think it was really just a spur of the moment. I later got my head screwed on right again.
How have you been able to develop business relationships with white folks and how has your colour affected your business?
As stated earlier I really don’t see myself as any less, so I choose my white friends the same way I would choose to be friends with a black person. Of course, I’m not ignoring the fact that there are racists, but it hasn’t really been a problem for me as it’s expected to happen once in awhile.
Actually being a dark skinned person has actually facilitated my business as white people prefer to make braids with black people, because they believe we are better at it. For my business I haven’t seen any disadvantages attached to it.
What is your view on the objective of this foundation?
I think it’s a very good platform to help young melanated people build their self-esteem, because there are several people with dark skins out there lacking self-esteem which may affect their day to day activity. I would also suggest in the future that probably you could include some products or subscription boxes that would help dark skinned people improve their skin and not find a need to bleach their skin colour.
For us, Colorism and Racism are two close concepts, what is your take on these ideologies?
I feel Colorism could occur among people of the same race but of different skin colour but Racism as we know occurs between people of different races. However, none of the two should be experienced by an individual because at the end of the day our skin colour should not be a reason why we are addressed differently.
I think you’re doing a great job creating such awareness for people. There are also ways to expand it more to reach more audience.
How have you been able to help other people out?
As much as I can, I have been able to help other people. Just with my lifestyle and confidence, I try to make dark skinned people aware that it’s a beautiful thing.
NOTE: Please, keep being proud about your sun kissed skin. It’s part of your identity.
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