Yewande Biala has waded into the colourism row sparked after claims Rochelle Humes had ‘replaced’ author Candice Brathwaite as the host of a documentary on black women and childbirth.
Candice, 32, later confirmed that producers informed her that she was ‘never really in the running’ for the presenter job, kicking off a colourism debate on social media, with many insisting Candice is more deserving of the role, while others defended Rochelle, 31.
Speaking in a piece written in The Independent, the Love Island star, 25, told how it’s ‘time to have these difficult conversations’, as she argued: ‘Dark skin women are not looking to be pitied; we want to be heard.’
Thoughts: Yewande Biala has waded into the colourism row sparked after claims Rochelle Humes had ‘replaced’ author Candice Brathwaite as the host of a documentary on black women and childbirth
With the issue of colourism being very much in the spotlight at the moment, the cancer scientist took the opportunity to share her own experiences of being a dark-skinned woman, as well as share her thoughts on the ongoing debate.
Discussing the topic in her article, Yewande gave a brief history of colourism, which stemmed back from the days of slavery when lighter-skinned women were given more preferential treatment and less strenuous work than that of their darker-skinned counterparts.
She went on to say that elements of this disparity is still evident in society today, suggesting that those of a lighter skin tone have more ‘social and economic privilege’ due to their ‘closer phenotypic resemblance’ to white people.
Expressing her feeling that this needs to be address, she said: ‘I think the time has come to have these difficult conversations, to acknowledge when they make us feel uncomfortable, or remind us of our own individual pain.
Clarity: Candice, 32, later confirmed that producers informed her that she was ‘never really in the running’ for the presenter job, kicking off a colourism debate on social media, with many insisting Candice is more deserving of the role, while others defended Rochelle, 31
‘The effects of colourism in our society can be devastating. As a dark-skinned black woman, I grew up with feelings of hatred towards my skin, never feeling appreciated, loved or seen by society and by those around me.’
She added: ‘Dark-skinned women are not looking to be pitied; we want to be heard and not dismissed. We should be allowed to be at the forefront of our trauma and tell our own stories.’
Yewande then addressed the furore surrounding Rochelle and Candice, noting Candice’s statement on Instagram that she wasn’t ‘in the running’ for the documentary because producers wanted the host to be ‘removed from the situation’, to allow for an element of discovery.
Candice herself experienced her own trauma after childbirth in which she was rushed to the hospital to drain infected pus which sent her into septic shock, following the birth of her daughter Esmé, now six.
Opinion: Speaking in a piece written in The Independent , the Love Island star, 25, told how it’s ‘time to have these difficult conversations’, as she argued: ‘Dark skin women are not looking to be pitied; we want to be heard’
Though the reality star points out that these things could well be the ‘realities of politics in television’ she adds that perhaps Candice may be more ‘genuine and relatable’ having experience of the topic herself.
Citing reports that black women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, Yewande suggested that it may be ‘frustrating’ for some to have their ‘trauma dictated’ by someone who has ‘not experienced it’.
The Irish beauty then asked the question ‘why does it matter’, putting the question of whether it matters if a mixed race women was hosting the show about issues affecting black women, or if it’s important that a black women with experience was never considered for the job in the first place.
She noted that it matters because society appears to still ‘overwhelmingly believe’ that black women who lack ‘Eurocentric features’ are perhaps not thought to be as ‘intelligent, beautiful or vulnerable’ enough when compared to mixed-raced and light skin women.
Personal struggles: ‘The effects of colourism in our society can be devastating. As a dark-skinned black woman, I grew up with feelings of hatred towards my skin’
Concluded her thoughts on the ongoing debate, Yewande argued that as a dark-skinned woman, she wishes to see other dark-skinned females to be ‘represented’ and not ‘replaced’, with the star using the hashtag #StopErasingBlackWomen.
Yewande’s words come after Rochelle spoke out on claims she ‘replaced’ author Candice as the host of an upcoming documentary on black women and childbirth.
The This Morning presenter, 31, took to Instagram on Saturday and announced she would be fronting a documentary which explores why black women in the UK die during pregnancy and childbirth at four times the rate of white women.
Rochelle said she was approached to host the programme over a year ago and wants to use her platform to bring visibility to the issue.
Statement: Rochelle recently spoke out on claims she ‘replaced’ author Candice Brathwaite as the host of a documentary on black women and childbirth
Candice had revealed on social media that she was in talks to present a documentary on the same topic but has since clarified it was not the same one that Rochelle is tied to, following speculation the Saturdays singer had ‘replaced’ her.
In her statement, Rochelle wrote: ‘Hey gang. The situation around the documentary playing out online is complex and I know that my response won’t satisfy everyone.
‘That being said, I am going to speak to the facts and what I know to be true. Firstly, I recognise that I am contributing to a conversation that many black women have been central to and fighting for a long time.
‘When taking on this project, it was necessary to the producers and I, that the voices of the people who’ve been directly affected are centred in the storytelling.
Speaking out: Candice had revealed that she was in talks to present a documentary on the same topic but has since clarified it was not the same one that Rochelle is tied to, following speculation the Saturdays singer had ‘replaced’ her
‘It’s important to me personally and everyone involved in this documentary that this ongoing issue is brought to the widest possible audience.
‘I want to utilise my platform to add further reach and visibility to this ongoing issue, with the sole intention of creating broader awareness to affect change.
‘I was offered the role as host last year, to go on an exploratory journey through the lends of the audience to ask the question why.
‘To tackle any issue on a national scale, it involves a community of people pulling together to advocate and rally for change as ultimately we all share the same goal.
Rochelle said: ‘It’s important to me personally and everyone involved in this documentary that this ongoing issue is brought to the widest possible audience’
She continued: ‘This is bigger than me and not about me, I’m just bringing this topic to a wider audience and championing the incredible women that haven’t yet had their voices heard.
‘I want to honour the brave people who have opened up and shared their journeys, in the hope that, collectively, we can understand, learn from, and end these needless deaths.’
It comes after Candice took to Instagram on Saturday to state that she was ‘gutted’ to discover she would no longer be fronting the Channel 4 show, days after she revealed she lost out on a job to a lighter-skinned black woman ‘more than once in the last six months’.
Blogger Candice, 32, later shut down rumours that the role was taken from her by Rochelle as she insisted she was ‘never in the running’ to host the show as the pair were working on two different programmes.
Lorraine’s style correspondent published her book I Am Not Your Baby Mother in May 2020, years on from when she was rushed to the hospital to drain infected pus which sent her into septic shock after giving birth to her daughter Esmé, now six.
‘I was never in the running’: Candice recently clarified confusion over being ‘replaced’ by Rochelle to present a documentary
Candice – who has campaigned about the tragic issue for years – wrote on Sunday: ‘The producer of the show that Rochelle Humes is to present has called me asking me to clarify that I was never in the running to present that particular documentary.
‘So for the record – I was contacted in March 2020 by a different production company about developing a similar documentary and had been speaking with them throughout 2020 – our last zoom call being on December 1st 2020.
‘I’ve been advised that the show with Rochelle was also being developed at the same time I was engaged in discussions and was obviously commissioned.’
A TV executive also informed the book expert that she wouldn’t be considered to carry the show as they prefer ‘their subjects to be removed from the situation.’
Statement: Blogger Candice later shut down rumours that the role was taken from her by the This Morning star as the pair were working on two different programmes
Candice explained how she was offered an opportunity to contribute her knowledge on the topic, but declined after producers rejected her agent’s proposal about co-presenting the film with the former Saturdays singer.
She went on: ‘The producer said that fortunately for him his show was simply acquired first and these things happen in television.
‘I was also told that I would never have been a front runner for this particular documentary as they prefer their subjects to be removed from the situation so that the element of discovery about an issue is genuine but that there would perhaps be room for another documentary of the same nature after this one has aired.
‘They had asked me to contribute my expertise but I declined as I don’t want my trauma to be mined for a show where I have no control of the narrative.
‘It hit like a ton of bricks’: Earlier in the month, the former marketing assistant revealed she lost out on a job to lighter-skinned black woman ‘more than once in the last six months’
‘My agent had asked a few weeks ago if there was a possibility I could co-present alongside Rochelle and was told there was not.’
Grazia’s contributing editor ended her post by expressing her gratitude towards her fans for their support.
Candice shared: ‘At the end of the day I cannot overstate enough how important it is for this issue to be spoken about until we are able to save more black women.
‘On a personal note I’ve learned a lot and I’m thinking carefully about my future in TV on the whole. Thank you guys so much.’
Heart-breaking: In 2014, Candice was rushed to the hospital to drain infected pus which sent her into septic shock after giving birth to her daughter Esmé, now six
Channel 4 said in a statement to the Metro: ‘It is completely untrue that Rochelle Humes replaced Candice Brathwaite on this film. Rochelle was the only presenter attached to the project. Candice was approached to be interviewed but declined.’
The matter set off a conversation about colourism on social media, with many insisting Candice is more deserving of the role due to her work in the black community, while others defended Rochelle’s position.
In her original post, the former marketing assistant said: ‘Well, that got interesting. I appreciate the love and support. The truth is up until six weeks ago I thought I was going to present that documentary. I had been contacted in March of 2020.
‘It had been an ongoing discussion for the last 9 months of the year. I’m not sure what happened. But it’s not meant to be.
Tragic: The death rate in black women during pregnancy and childbirth is said to have been consistent between 2020 and 2021 (Rochelle pictured in 2019)
‘Although it will always be something I’m passionate about, I have to set my ego aside because it’s not only I who tried to highlight the disturbing data when it came to black women dying in childbirth. It’s a group effort. It always has been.
‘So as gutted as I was the message remains the same and it’s such a serious issue that we should hold space no matter who is narrating the story. Why is this happening and what can we do to fix it?
‘Hopefully documentaries, books and most importantly LISTENING TO BLACK WOMEN, will help fix things.’ (sic)
TV star Rochelle unveiled her Channel 4 documentary on her Instagram platform as she wrote: ‘Hey gang…
Controversial: The matter set off a conversation about colourism on social media
‘I’m currently making an investigative documentary, looking behind the shocking statistics that in the UK, black women die during pregnancy, childbirth, and shortly after – at a rate of more than four times that of white women.
‘I want to find out why this is, and have met some incredibly brave women as part of my investigation into what’s going on.
‘This is a very difficult and sensitive issue, but I think in order to make a change it’s really important to give a voice to families that have lost loved ones in this nature.
‘I’m hoping in making this film, it leads to tangible changes and solid commitments to bringing these rates down… that’s my goal xx.’ (sic)
Earlier in the month, Candice confessed she was left feeling ‘like I wanted to physically wanted to come out of my skin’ due to being overlooked in the industry.
The media personality said: ‘More than once in the last six months, I have lost out on a job to a lighter skinned black woman.
‘I’ve got to say I’m very good at keeping my head above water and doing the whole ”paddle, paddle, paddle, smile, smile, smile, this doesn’t hurt, just get through it”. It’s just like… today hit like a ton of bricks.
‘Today was the first time in a long time that I physically wanted to come out of my skin, and I haven’t felt that in years… like I physically wanted to try be like a lighter-skinned black woman.’
Investigation: The former Saturdays singer declared she hopes to ‘bring these rates down’ with her project (pictured with Dr Christine Ekechi)
The death rate in black women during pregnancy and childbirth is said to have been consistent between 2020 and 2021, according to a report by MBRRACE-UK.
The lead author of the MBRRACE-UK report, Professor Marian Knight, told the Guardian last month: ‘The drop to a fourfold difference should not be a reason to lessen our efforts at a time when addressing these inequalities among pregnant women and new mothers should be a priority.
The rate of deaths among white women has gone up by a tiny amount and the rate of black women has come down a little but neither of these are statistically significant changes because the overall rates are low.’
MailOnline has contacted representatives for Candice and Rochelle for further comment.
In good company: Rochelle pictured with contributor Abuela Doulas, who founded the first black owned, founded and created UK doula course