At some point or another many of us have “hated” on an individual’s skin complexion or even their hair texture. Some have been deemed “dark” but beautiful people, yet undeserving of love or even attention. Sad… but true! That which we are highlighting in this article is the issue of COLORISM.
The Oxford dictionary renders ‘colorism’ as “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group”. Caution should be taken as to not confuse “racism” with “colorism”, because the former deals with prejudice or discrimination against individuals from other ethnic or racial groups.
History of Colorism
To the reader of this article it might already be apparent as to the roots of this phenomenon. For many of us, if not all of us have read or heard about slavery, emancipation, indentureship, colonialism and the various topics associated with the study of “West Indian History”. It can be noted that slavery and colonialism propagated the notion of white ascendancy and black inferiority (considered racism) throughout majority of the Western society, including the colonialized countries of the Caribbean.
Social order was created among the slaves with lighter workload and elevated status being attributed to lighter skinned slaves as oppose to the overbearing workload of slaves with darker complexion. This birthed animosity among the once united body of slaves as the former rose to somewhat a superior state than the latter.
Media influence on colorism
The media plays a very critical role in the formation of one’s values and the world in which one lives. One would agree that the media has somewhat become more than necessary food for many who receive their juicy supply of hot gossip and tantalizing fads. In the context of colorism, the media and advertising has contributed tremendously to its rise.
Special mention needs to be made as to the influence on “US Media” in the Caribbean. The Media paints a “picture perfect” person with the “right skin” on television and print, to which standard many strive to attain. As a result, one is forced to think he is not good enough and experiments with the possibility of being the image the media desires, which of course is nothing but plastic.
Impact of colorism on Social Interaction
I stumbled upon an article online from the “Woman Magazine” on the issue of colorism. In this article the writer expressed the displeasure that she has felt as one being of “lighter skin”. One would think that colorism would attack the “darker skin” only but here we see that it affects both shades.
It is also apparent that in the Caribbean some individuals choose spouses based on skin color stratification (at least I am aware of it in my country Saint Lucia), which also incorporates the other features of that individual such as the hair texture, eye color and facial structure. Individuals are looked at as merely an ingredient for child reproduction and social acceptance.
Colorism has negatively affected the relationships and attitudes of the Caribbean culture in creating a social status superiority complex among individuals of different skin strata. The next time you see that dark chocolate man or woman or even that fair or brown skin person remember that someone loves them and He (God) created them just like you!
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.