Photo Courtesy of Zainab Kazeem

Project Shade, created by Zainab Kazeem, was born out of selfie culture and her belief that people should learn to love themselves no matter their looks.


March 29, 2016

Project Shade calls for people to love themselves

Zainab Kazeem is a Cleveland State University student studying International Business and Urban Studies. She is also the blogger of and founder of Project Shade, which is a campaign to get people, specifically people of color, to embrace and love themselves.

“The idea for Project Shade came to me when I was taking selfies,” Kazeem said. “When I was deciding which one to post, I noticed that there were some lighting issues that cause me to have pictures with different skin shades, one being my actual skin shade, which is naturally darker, and one that was a few shades lighter.”

“It became a personal dilemma on which one to post,” she continued. “I was torn between posting the one that looked like me or the other one, and I didn’t like that I was even tempted to post the one that didn’t look like me.”

And with that Kazeem came up with Project Shade. Project Shade tries to spread the message of loving yourself and the people around you through seminars, presentations, social media and photo shoots, like The Color People Series.

The Color People Series, which had a casting call in the Cleveland State Campus Horn, is a photo series of people of color from the Cleveland State and Greater Cleveland community. The series is also set to expand this fall to parts of Maryland and the Washington, D.C. area, as well as internationally to places like Thailand and Brazil.

From Kazeem’s perspective, the need for campaigns like Project Shade was very apparent in society today.

With other social media campaigns such as #blackgirlmagic, which encourages women of color to see themselves as beautiful and inspirational, Kazeem was happy to embrace the campaign within her own.

“When I see hashtags like #blackgirlmagic, or one of my favorites #blackking[queen]magic, I want people of color to be inspired to do better or be better,” she said. “Slavery ended, but psychological hurt is still there in a different form, like the idea that being of a lighter skin tone is more appealing.”

Kazeem and Project Shade are partnering with the Afro Vibes Line Dance Association to host the First Annual Gala Night Renaissance Ball at Cleveland State on April 15. The admission for students is $2 and $7 for the public.

Persons who would like to become involved, in the project or modeling in the future, can use the contact form on her website or Instagram @ibomiran_blog.

“Always comment,” Kazeem said. “I love hearing feedback on my work. Whether it’s just my blog or an event that you attend, it’s nice to hear how people were inspired or liked my work.”


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