The New Stigma of Colorism
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
The discrimination that occurs due to the color of one’s skin is a phenomenon that affects not dark-skinned communities, but also all ethnicities worldwide with different skin colors. Every day there is growing discrimination in the world based on skin color that became popularly known by the term ‘colorism’. It is a type of discrimination that affects non-Caucasian communities where those who have the darkest skin are rejected.
This term ‘colorism’ was coined by African-American feminist writer Alice Walker, who found that the darker the skin of a black person the more they are subject to racial prejudice, especially in Latino communities where a woman with darker skin experiences much more racism, social and aesthetic rejection compared to someone who has lighter skin.
The worst thing about this discrimination is that it is mostly applied within the black community itself, where a black woman can be racist towards another black woman, just because she has lighter skin, although there is also a racist tendency in white people towards people who have darker skin. In other words, the new ‘colorism’ creates racism within racism.
According to Alice Walker, it is the same or worse in the Latin American community, because in addition to discrimination based on skin color, they are classists and care very much about the area where someone lives, the university where they study, the hospital they go to or their use of public transportation. That determines the way in which the person will be treated, with racism being added. So many people with dark skin have no chance of holding a government job, of getting decent health care and they even have little access to public or private spaces to do any kind of studying.
Alice Walker says that Latino communities are very classistbecause in these communities money and material goods are worth nothing; if you are black with dark skin you will always suffer, while people with lighter skin are more accepted socially as they are considered ‘attractive’.
Finally, Alice Walker says that in 1910 a supposedly scientific concept known as the “whitening theory” was created in Brazil. It alleged that the mixture of blacks, indigenous people and whites was responsible for the existing social chaos, in addition to the lack of identity. They decided that social order could only be established by the civilized white man, and that to achieve this Brazil had to be ‘whitened.’
Addendum: This new social phenomenon of ‘colorism’ is an incomprehensible form of discrimination which, quite surprisingly, is affecting society today and seems set to last for a long time.