What is Colorism
• Colorism is a practice of
discrimination by which those
with lighter skin are treated
more favorably than those
with darker skin.
Origins of Colorism
• Through miscegenation( the sexual exploitation of black female
slaves and white male slave masters) mixed races between African
and European ancestry was created.
• European colonialism created a system of white superiority and
racial dominance which put white people at the top of the hierarchy
and black people at the bottom.
• Light skinned slaves were given less harsher tasks like working inside
of the master’s house while dark skinned slaves participated in hard
labor such as working in the fields.
• After the abolition of slavery in 1865, colonialism caused division
The effects of Colorism in the
• Around the 20th century, separatist standards
began to form in black elitist groups such as
social clubs and societies.
• Brown Paper Bag Test- was a ritual practiced in
fraternities, sororities, clubs, churches,
schools, and various social clubs.
• If a person was darker than the brown paper
bag they were not allowed to participate
• The Comb Test- was used to test the coarseness
of someone’s hair.
• Spike Lee’s movie “School Daze” is a perfect
example of colorism in the black community as
well as in black colleges and universities.
• Light skin was seen as more appealing and was
Colorism is Global
Colorism believe or not is not just a African American issue. It is an issue that is happening globally
all over the world especially in countries who’s cultures are very diverse and psychically are
distinctive in appearance. Cultures such as the Asian, Latin, African, and Caribbean are all affected
Colorism in the Asian
Culture• Korea, Japan, and China - Fair
skinned is more desirable
than darker skin. Women are
getting plastic surgery to
achieve the “Westernized
Look” such as double eyelids,
defining jaw lines, and
• India- White is seen as better,
white is rich, and fair
complexion equals success in
one’s life. Dark skinned
brides are not taken to local
festivals or weddings due to
discrimination of their skin
color. Fair skinned brides are
seen as more attractive and
are married quicker.
Bleaching creams are used to
make the skin more fair.
Colorism in Latin
-In Latin America, the term Mestizo was
historically a person of European
Ancestry known as a today some with
-Being either Light skinned or dark
skinned has an impact on how you are
viewed in the culture.
-In the Dominican Republic, men and
women are pressured to marry a
fairer skinned mate so that their off
spring can be light.
Colorism in Africa and
• In both South Africa and
Jamaica, there is an obsession
to lightened one's skin.
Lighter skin is seen as more
• In Jamaica- a person’s beauty
is defined by how light or
dark your skin is and how
close your features are to
European features. A person
is described first by their
• In South Africa and Nigeria -
several stores sell bleaching
creams over the counter.
Many women are getting
these creams to achieve a
more lighter complexion.
Psychological Affects of
• Colorism has left a lasting affect on millions of people. Both
male and female of all nationalities.
• One is made to feel unattractive because of the complexion of
• Constantly comparing one’s self, doing different things to
change one’s appearance.
• Colorism has caused many to think that if you are lighter or
near white then you will have more success in life.
• Depression, self-hate, low-self esteem, internal oppression
are all results of colorism.
Videos to Check Out
• Skin Bleaching Epidemic In Jamaica Short Documentary ( YouTube)
• Skin Bleaching in Africa( YouTube)
• Negro: Colorism and “Mejorando La Raza”( YouTube)
• Light skinned vs. Dark skinned shows on the Tyra Banks (YouTube)