For so many centuries, racism has existed. Yet, mankind still hopes to stop racism from taking root in this modern world. To begin with, what is racism? Racism is another form of discrimination. It based on race. On the other hand, colorism is another form of discrimination. This is where people of the same race divide themselves according to color. And there is one color that is preferred over another. Hence, deeming some shades inferior. As you can see, racism and colorism are cut from the same cloth.
Before racism came into the spotlight, colorism existed. It was the time where each race never bothered to think of other races. Colorism not only affected skin color but it also involved hair and eye color.
There was a period in time where blonds with blue eyes were revered. In another time period, blonds were considered the epitome of beauty.
Ladies in the Victorian error were obsessed with pale skin. The obsession with whiter skin was associated with purity and social class. Women with tanned skin were assumed to be manual workers, toiling under the hot sun. On the other hand, whiter complexion was a common color for rich women in the higher circles of society.
Besides that, in present Africa and Asia, there is a fetish for lighter skin tones. For this reason, thousands of Asians and Africans try to bleach their skin to achieve the desired standard. In China, South Korea, India, and the Philippines there are high numbers of skin whitening products posing as cosmetics. Even more, the bleaching products are occupying more and more shelves in pharmacies and supermarkets. In Africa, skin whitening is popular since Africans are a race with abundant melanin. However, many women and men bleach in secret due to societal backlash. Plus, whitening products cost money. Therefore, the ones who bleach have to move mountains to achieve a lighter look.
Racism was born when mankind broke continental borders to travel to unknown lands. It is widely known by historians that in Europe, before journeying to new lands overseas, slaves were whites. When the travelers discovered new races who were different in physical appearance, the slave trade began. In Africa, chiefdoms and kingdoms traded criminals and captured enemy clans for merchandise at the coast.
Slave ships packed the condemned souls for a horrific voyage to the Newlands and Europe to work. When the demand for black slaves grew, so did the need to take over Africa amplified. Clans were raided by colonialists and slave traders and more slaves were taken overseas where demand was high. This fact is also true for Asia and the Americas slave trade.
Hundreds of years have passed but racism and colorism still plague the free world. Why?
There are families whose great-great-grandparents were racist. The descendants instilled their dark views of other races into their offsprings. Others isolate their children from interacting with different races. Another form of racist generation is vulgar and derogatory speech towards other races. Parents who are constantly cursing and talking ill of specific races, subconsciously instill hatred in their children as they grow up.
In Africa, there is this ungodly reverence of Europeans and Asians. If a foreigner -who is not black- walks into a business area, they are served first in spite of African clients who came first.
Foreign tourists get better services compared to domestic African tourists. There was a case in Kenya where an Asian hotel refused admittance to Kenyan customers saying that they don’t serve Africans. Yet, their business was functioning in an African country. With such people, I would want to know who their mommas are!
Media and Colorism
I remember when I was a toddler, advertisements on TV were full of white people. Yet, I was in Kenya, a country with 98% black people. Over the years, adverts changed from white to African people. However, the African people were not really as black as me. They were more of mixed descent with big curly hair. Yet, a majority of the Kenyan population are not mixed. Averagely, about 2% of the Kenyan population are of mixed descent. More years passed by and the adverts nevertheless changed. The models in TVs were now more like the Kenyan majority with one little problem. Most of them wore straight hair wigs or weaves and had lighter skin shades.
My point is, the media is having a tough time including all skin shades on screens. I have heard crazy stories as to why ebony and chocolate skin shades can’t be on screens.
For instance, some say the studio lighting can’t properly illuminate dark-skinned features. Others say, their shows may lose international views. Last but not least is beauty standards. The standard gauge of modern beauty is lighter skin shade. Therefore, they place models with lighter shades to gain public approval.
Colonialistic views and standards
For centuries, the African race has been at the receiving end of racism. Also, In the South of India, there are people with skin as dark as an African due to their proximity to the Equator. Dark-skinned people are also in the Philippines. They are known as Agta or Diminutive Africoids. Australia has Aborigine people with dark skin shades like Africans. In all these places, there are forms of discrimination against darker skin shades. The colonialistic views are highlighted by the unhealthy pursuit of fair skin. Since dark skin is associated with poverty and slavery, such people go through untold hell-on-earth encounters. As a result, dark-skinned people are subjected to criticism, discrimination, and ridicule.
A few years ago, Africans were never allowed to wear their natural hair to work. It was considered unprofessional. So, African women were forced to wear wigs or weaves. In the same effect, people with dreadlocks were assumed to be drug addicts, thieves, and rebels. Similarly, our African ancestors conditioned their minds that straight hair is good hair due to the European standards of beauty. That’s why most Africans ‘heat-trained’ their kinks to be straight. Or, they applied gels and chemicals to achieve straight styles.
Also, many African schools ban students from keeping natural hair. Some schools allow girls to keep hair under one condition,.. it be straightened.
The reason such schools refuse African hair in its natural glory is that they deem it untidy and unmanageable. Other schools force girls to shave their heads to remove any distraction from the student for higher performance. Such irony! So many scientific and academic breakthroughs have come from overseas from women with butt-long hair.
All in all, that doesn’t mean mankind is beyond redemption from senseless discrimination and hatred. With more integration programs such as study exchange and expatriate networks, colorism and racism will decrease. Apart from this, the darker skin races should not wallow in misery due to racists and colorists. Stand up, be bold and be proud. It is a blessing to have sunburn-proof skin that withstands high heat. Once you go black, you never go back.