Grace Gealey, better known as ‘Anika’ on Empire or Boo-Boo Kitty, says she received a life lesson once she left the Cayman Islands for the United States when she was 18-years-old. In an interview with Details, Gealey said before she left home, she never realized she was light-skinned.

“For me personally, it’s the whole light-skinned/dark-skinned dynamic [for women of color]. I mean, there’s competition among women everywhere you go. But back home we understand that you can look like a variety of things and still be from the same culture. What I’m saying is that I’ve never felt like I was a light-skinned black woman. Never felt that way because we shared the same culture back home. But when I came to America, that’s when I started to feel that there was a lot of push-back from women. I was definitely made aware that I am light-skinned. I realized that was a thing here,” Gealey stated.

When asked what she meant by her statement, she delved further into intra-racism.

“It was something that people felt the need to point out. I guess maybe it’s a form of intra racism: I was discriminated against for being light-skinned and there were a lot of labels. Some people assumed that guys might like me more because of my complexion or that I had it easier in general. Which is funny because I’ve been a victim of prejudice as well: There were times when I have walked into a Rite Aid at 12 o’clock at night and had the store manager stand in the corner and stare at me while I was looking at nail polishes,” Gealey explained.

Gealey’s remarks seem to echo similar sentiments of light-skinned women, not only the Caribbean but also here in the U.S. As someone who has visited Cayman Islands for long periods of time, I’ve noticed colorism and people being discriminated because of their complexion. But I’m not one to discount Gealey’s experiences.

Clutchettes, what do you think about Gealey’s comments?

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