Colorism

Kaelynn Cowan

(Opinion Piece)

The minorities of the U.S. have been put through hell over the centuries. Slavery, Segregation, Racism, Lynching, victims of Police Brutality, Hate Speech; having their human rights put to the test over and over again. One of the most highly developed issues that is slowly rising to the light is Colorism.

“Colorism is the favorability in people with a lighter skin tone,” explains Jaida Smith, a high school student at Pike High School. “’Too dark.’ Or, ‘Too light.’ Like, there is no perfect skin tone for us, especially when it comes to black women.”

Colorism is a common occurrence between minority groups; people inside these groups use it against each other to separate each other. These groups divide when they should be standing together to go against the oppressor. Kaitlyn Greenidge, the writer of the article “Shades of Black”, found that “Dark-skinned women are less likely to be married than lighter-skinned women.” The percentage of dark-skinned women getting married is 23 percent, while the percentage of light-skinned woman is 55 percent.

Why is that, you ask? Because of western beauty standards, “The whiter you are the better.” Colorism is not just in the U.S., it also has a heavy influence in more foreign countries, notably in South Korea. South Korea has one of the highest plastic surgery rates in the entire world. On one website titled “Are You Considered Beautiful In Korea?”, it says that “Fair skin is a MUST in Korean beauty standards. You should have fair skin that looks glowing and glass-like.”

In another article, “Colorism in South Korea and Its Reflections in K-pop”, it points out that, “Although darker-skinned K-pop idols (both male and female) are deemed the ‘sexy’ ones in their groups, they tend to receive more backlash purely because of their skin tone.”

Colorism is a serious problem in a lot of places in the world, and it is also followed by fetishization and sexualization of people with a darker complexion.

As briefly touched on in the quote cited from “Colorism in South Korea and it’ Reflections in K-pop,” people with a darker skin tone (especially black woman and men) are made out to be “sexy” and “exotic”, which is fetishization of the darker skin tone. Most K-pop agencies force their darker-skinned idols to either wear lightened makeup or become “sexy”.  Of course, many of them refuse, but end up sexualizing themselves to keep their job. Although the beauty conditions don’t seem as extreme in the U.S., they are.

In court, the sentencing for darker-skinned woman is astoundingly larger than lighter skinned woman who commit the SAME crimes. The findings from the “Social Journal” show that lighter-skinned female prisoners are sentenced approximately 12 percent less time behind bars than dark-skinned prisoners. The results also show that lighter-skinned women are more likely to have their actual time REDUCED by 11 percent.  By itself, this doesn’t seem like much, but it makes the difference in the justice system.

It’s been almost 400 years since slavery was ended and segregation ended only 60 years ago. Why is the divide between and among races getting larger?