Colorism- Causes and the role of media


Colorism is the form of discrimination in which people are treated differently owing to the color of their skin and is based on the social meanings people have attached to the skin color. In this form of racial discrimination that occurs within a certain ethnic group or across the ethnic groups, there is a tendency to favor lighter skin over darker skin tone. Colorism is a problem because of the impact that it has both on the society and individuals that are victims of colorism or racial discrimination. There are many causes and effects of colorism. Because of slavery and color separation, the encouraging of a European standard of beauty and media coverage and promotion, the society and individuals alike have significantly been affected. With the notion that a particular skin tone is more preferable than another, colorism has led to segregation in our society and created feelings of low self-esteem among individuals that are victims of colorism. Because of colorism, our society rather than embracing the diversity of skin color has instead instigated ill feelings towards people that are not of the standard or the preferred skin tone and hence has created a racially divided society.

Causes of colorism

Slavery and color separation is the primary cause of colorism. Slavery is that historical injustice of inhumanely and illegally bringing in people from Africa as slaves to work in white farms and households. Due to slavery, a new race found its way to America and in American society. Their skin tone made them different from the white majority that had made America their home. Their skin tone was despised by the whites and considered strange. When slavery was abolished, the effects of slavery were already irreversible. The society now had two sorts of races that were a majority; the black race and the white race. Naturally, segregation occurred since the whites considered their race superior to the black race and so they were inclined to separate themselves from the blacks. Color separation thus took shape in the society and the blacks were kept from mingling with the whites. Though this was ultimately abolished, there are still deep-seated notions of color separation evident in society. The effect of the color separation set in motion by slavery is that people treat races differently. The whites are currently the most preferred in terms of their skin tone while the blacks still face discrimination based on their skin color. The society basically has racial lenses through which everyone in society is judged by the color of their skin.

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Promoting the European standard of beauty

The promoting and encouraging of the European standard of beauty (blue eyes and long hair) is another cause of colorism in our society. There are prevailing notions in the society that true beauty follows a certain pattern or is evident by a certain race. The whites with their long hair and particular eyes are claimed to be the ultimate example of beauty while the blacks with their short and rugged hair and brown eyes are of inferior beauty. This idea has infused the society such that those of a darker skin tone is considered not beautiful while those of a lighter skin is considered the epitome of beauty. When those of a black skin tone are compared alongside those of a lighter complexion, it is likely that those of a lighter complexion will be considered more beautiful than those of a darker complexion. Because of this magnifying of one standard of beauty over another, the society has been taught that one is beautiful only when they look a certain way thus some people feel unattractive because they do not meet the standards of beauty. Those of a black race especially feel they are not as beautiful.

The role of media in colorism

Lastly, the media has played a role in advancing colorism. The media daily advances notions of preferring one skin tone to another thus perpetuating discrimination based on skin color. It is responsible for influencing beliefs on certain ideas of beauty within the African American community. African Americans that have lighter skin complexion and have certain European features like lighter eyes and smaller noses tend to have more opportunities in the media industry for example magazine editors tend to prefer African American models that have European features more than they do those that do not have. Additionally, film producers tend to hire lighter-skinned African Americans more often than they would African Americans that are dark-skinned. This tendency to prefer African Americans with European features more than they do African American with their features sends messages that African Americans with Eurocentric features are more likely to be accepted thus ultimately diminishing the value of African Americans with darker-skins. As a result, those having inferior features that is those African Americans with darker skin are impacted emotionally and psychologically. They tend to, therefore, have low self-esteem, suffer from depression, and have a constant feeling of worthlessness.
In conclusion, colorism or racial discrimination is the tendency to discriminate based on skin color or tone. As a result of colorism, one skin color is preferred more than different skin color. In our society, darker skinned individuals are considered inferior compared with light-skinned individuals. Colorism is caused by a number of factors including slavery and color separation, the preference of the European standards of beauty, and media coverage and promotion. The effect of this is that people treat races differently having a preference for one over another since it teaches one standard of beauty over another leads to some people feeling unattractive and also leads to low self-esteem, depression and feelings of worthlessness. These societal and individual effects of colorism are the effects of a society that sees each other through racial lenses.

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