Discrimination Based On Skin Color
Colorism refers to a form of prejudice or discrimination in which human beings are treated differently based on the social meanings attached to skin color.
Coined by Alice Walker in 1982, colorism, although often overshadowed by racism, is not the same as racism. Multiple factors are used to indicate race (e.g. skin color or ancestry); therefore, racial categorization does not solely rely on skin color. Skin color is only one mechanism used to assign individuals to a racial category, but race is the set of beliefs and assumptions assigned to that category. With racism, it is the social meaning attached to an individuals race that determines social status. With colorism it is the social meaning attached to an individuals skin color that determines social status. In order for a form of discrimination to be considered colorism, differential treatment must not result from racial categorization, but from the social values associated with skin color.
Colorism can be found across the world, specifically in the United States, Latin America, Asia, the Arab World and Africa. The abundance of colorism is a result of the global prevalence of “pigmentocracy,” a term recently adopted by social scientists to describe societies in which wealth and social status are determined by skin color. Throughout the numerous pigmentocracies across the world, each are characteristic of a society in which the lightest-skinned peoples have the highest social status, followed by the brown-skinned, and finally the black-skinned who are at the bottom of the social hierarchy. This form of prejudice often results in reduced opportunities for those who are discriminated against on the basis of skin color.
Famous quotes containing the words color, skin and/or based:
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
—William Gibson (b. 1948)
“they burned Joan
and many, and many,
burned at the stake,
peeling their skin off,
boiling their good red blood,
their hearts like eggs....”
—Anne Sexton (19281974)
“Language makes it possible for a child to incorporate his parents verbal prohibitions, to make them part of himself....We dont speak of a conscience yet in the child who is just acquiring language, but we can see very clearly how language plays an indispensable role in the formation of conscience. In fact, the moral achievement of man, the whole complex of factors that go into the organization of conscience is very largely based upon language.”
—Selma H. Fraiberg (20th century)