Colorism And Its Role In Today's Society University Of Michigan / English 1010 Essay

1204 words - 5 pages

Colorism
Colorism is a term that is often both misunderstood as well as overlooked. The need to remain within the boundaries of what is politically correct has caused this discussion to be swept under the rug time and time again. As a result, ignorance continues to grow in numbers as the issue itself grows at an even more rapid pace. For hundreds of years society has accepted colorism as a normal practice and integrated its usage into our everyday lives. There are several beliefs that are related to the term in which most deem to be true that are in fact far from it. To begin, most individuals are under the assumption that racism and colorism mean the same thing and because of this they can be used interchangeably. Another common misconception is that colorism only exists in the African American community. Finally, most persons operate under the assumption that the ideology of colorism is a new found idea that has just now become popular within mainstream thinking. In order to truly understand the construct of colorism we must first define it. According to Cedric Herring, Verna M. Keith, and Hayward Derrick Horton, authors of, Skin Deep: How Race and Complexion Matter in the “Color-Blind” Era, “Colorism’ is the discriminatory treatment of individuals falling within the same ‘racial’ group on the basis of skin color. It operates both intraracially and interracially. Intraracial colorism occurs when members of a racial group make distinctions based upon skin color between members of their own race. Interracial colorism occurs when members of one racial group make distinctions based upon skin color between members of another racial group.” Operating off of that definition we can then begin to further our understanding pertaining to its origin, its current role in our society and how to improve moving forward.
So how did colorism come about? Who started and who kept it going? Well, it is no secret that the practice of enslaving humans and using them for labor, sex and means of trade was a very common and normal occurrence happening in our world just a mere one hundred years ago. During this time, was the first true introduction to the world of colorism. Slave owners were known to treat their slaves of lighter skin tones much better than those who were darker. The lighter slaves were permitted to stay in the house and complete domestic tasks such related to general upkeep of the house, cooking and caring for the children. Simultaneously, their darker counterparts were required to remain out in the field, working alongside of the men enduring much harsher treatment. What most are un aware of is that this difference in treatment stemmed from the fact that most who were of fair skin tones were directly related to the slave owner themselves. This came as a direct result of the sexual assault owners would frequently inflict on their slaves causing the offspring as well as anyone of lighter skin tones to be seen as more valuable among the community. Once...

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