Colorism, or skin-tone discrimination, can show up in the media, in your daily life, and maybe even in your own head. Have you ever felt judgmental about your skin color or someone else’s? Or seen a movie that puts too much light on light-skinned actors?
Pigmentation is the difference in skin tone that can appear in the media, in everyday life, and maybe even in your own head. Depending on your race or ethnicity and the type of racism you experience, some research suggests it can affect things like your worldview, job prospects, education and possibly your health.
Over time, colorism has come to mean different things in different cultures. But it usually refers to people with lighter skin tones being preferred or treated better than those with darker skin tones.
Racial prejudice is common among people who share a race or ethnicity. In the United States, racism occurs in African American, Latino, and Asian American communities. Some white people also discriminate on the basis of skin color. This can occur along racial and ethnic lines.
It is also possible to practice colorism against yourself and dislike the color of your skin. The desire for lighter skin drives many people in the US and other countries to try lightening or whitening products from stores and dermatologists.
Is Colorism Different From Racism?
Yes. Colorism is discrimination or prejudice against someone’s skin color. Racism is discrimination, hatred, or violence directed at people because of things like their race, ethnicity, or where they are from. Racism can take many forms, such as:
- Individual, which is when it is done against someone face to face or behind their back.
- Institutional, that is, rules and regulations within and across an institution lead to outcomes that favor some ethnic groups and disadvantage others.
- Structural, that is, the mix of public policies, institutional practices, social forces, philosophies, and practices that make life unequal between generations and aim to keep it that way.
Some researchers and experts link colorism in America to racist ideas and white ideals of beauty that were common during slavery and continued after its abolition.
In other cases, racism can stem from prejudice that arises within a people’s ethnic group. One expert says that long ago in communities in Asia, people who stayed indoors and avoided labor outside had lighter skin – and it became a sign of upper class.
Also, throughout European history, having pale, cool-toned skin that made the veins stand out as blue became a perceived sign of having “noble” and “untainted” blood. — also known as blue blood.