Framings of colourism among Kenyan Twitter users




Colourism is a form of discrimination where dark-skinned people of colour are perceived and treated less favourably than lighter-skinned people of the same ethnic group or racial classification. Much of the scholarly literature on colourism is focused on the experiences of African-Americans in the United States, but there is also substantial literature examining colourism’s impacts for Americans of Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian ancestry, and for people of colour in the Caribbean, Latin America, the UK, Europe, the Asia-Pacific, and parts of Africa. To date, there has not been significant scholarly focus on the phenomenon as it manifests in Kenya. This study sought to address that research gap by: (1) exploring the extent to which colourism is an issue of concern among Kenyan users of the social media platform Twitter; and (2) identifying the main colourism themes present in posts in the Kenyan Twitter ecosystem. The research entailed mining Kenyan Twitter data for nine and a half months in 2022, which resulted in the documentation of 7,726 unique posts on elements of colourism, as posted from 5,094 unique Twitter user accounts. Using inductive frame analysis, three predominant thematic categories were identified across the posts: (1) colourism perceptions; (2) colourism experiences; and (3) colourism influence. The frame analysis also uncovered sub-themes in each of these three broad categories. It was found that most of the Kenyan Twitter users who tweeted on matters of colourism during the period studied both acknowledged the existence of colourism’s manifestations and at the same time rejected the manifestations, advocating for a future free from such discrimination.


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How to Cite

Kiarie, C. and Jones, N.-J. (2023) “Framings of colourism among Kenyan Twitter users”, The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC). South Africa, (32), pp. 1–19. doi: 10.23962/ajic.i32.16429.



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