As human beings, we tend to highly depend on our sense of sight. We are a visual species. This fundamentally leads to one of our most damaging yet extensive habits: judging a book by its cover. We unfortunately tend to form impressions of people merely based on their appearance. We scan an individual, examine their physical traits, then mould an opinion about them. A particular physical trait that holds a great bearing on the final impressions that we form of others is skin color. How wild is that? People are judged based on the color of their skin. They are unconsciously placed into positions of power and value within their judge’s mind merely on the basis of their skin color. This leads to pride and prejudice. This is colorism. This is primitive.
While racism is defined as discrimination based on racial differences, colorism is bigotry that is founded upon the color of your skin. How great! We might as well add complexion to the long list of insecurities that social media has persuaded us to be ashamed of – just another ‘flaw’ for us to pick at. Social media outlets, films, and television shows are just a few of the sources of our insecurity. An ‘ideal’ standard of beauty has been constructed on such outlets, one that lacks diversity and lacks inclusiveness. One skin tone is considered the ‘ideal’ and that is fair skin. Light skin. White skin.
Not only does the biased nature of colorism bring into question an individual’s physical appearance, but it also brings to light challenges about a person’s identity and worth. Having fair skin is almost considered a symbol of power. An emblem of high prestige. An indication of great value. This inherent, inborn quality of yours may either set you up for a life of privilege and respect or for a life of distrust and some sort of disregard. As a person of color (POC), you are most likely going to be treated with some skepticism. Your darker complexion acts as a cautionary tale. It has labelled you as someone who cannot be trusted. It is absolutely horrifying that such devastating stereotypes still exist in the modern society, one that is claimed to be built upon ideals of equality and justice. Refer to our blog post about racism to further comprehend why such prejudice has perpetuated and has found its way into our lives today. What is even more frightening is that society does not take into consideration how catastrophic such biases may be on an individual’s self-worth. If a POC is aware that his environment may be questioning his value within society, he will very easily fall into the trap of questioning that value himself.
Battling colorism and supremacy
White/Caste supremacy forms the roots of the poisonous weed that is colorism. In order to rid your beautiful garden of such a pervasive weed, you need to entirely yank out the roots. In a country such as India where almost everyone is the same skin colour, you still cannot escape the prejudice. This is because the white superiority has wormed its way into every aspect of life. Everyone yearns to have it. Generally speaking, everyone wants to feel desirable. People want to feel attractive. We want to feel powerful.
Our generation has the power to finally make change to an everlasting system of pride and prejudice. Our primary focus must be on the children, those innocent, impressionable individuals who constitute the citizens of tomorrow. Children grow up upholding ideals they were taught – whether explicitly or implicitly – when they were younger and at the start of their path of education. Thus, in order to find the source of the problem, we must dismantle the values and principles that we were taught and discover where educators went wrong. We need to teach the young that every aspect of them is beautiful, including the color of their skin. We must remind young white children that darker skin is equally as beautiful as their own. Every child deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin, and we must work on discontinuing any sense of insecurity that an individual might feel based on such shallow qualities. More importantly, we must tap into their deeper qualities, making known that the color of your skin does not determine your power. It does not determine your worth. It definitely does not define your identity. Children of color must be able to look around themselves in their daily lives and see influential and esteemed role models of their color. They must realize that the color of an individual’s skin does not define who they are as a person, regardless of what may have been portrayed within multiple faulty systems over the years.
Remember, we all have the potential to step up and make change. Regardless of the color of our skin, we are capable of pinpointing toxic ideals and ceasing such teachings. Every race, every color, every culture is absolutely beautiful. Diversity brings so much flavor to life. Thus, we must welcome it with open arms. More particularly, we must ensure that no individual ever holds himself back from showing the world what he has to offer, on the mere basis of color. Speak up today. Make change today. Many different colors are used to paint the people of the world. Show them that they themselves have made our earth a masterpiece as a direct result of their diversity.
Credits – Shruti Nag & Joanna El Khoury