Colorism in our Community: Can changing the Narrative Change Stereotypes?

The author, Alice Walker, defined colorism as “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color.” Colorism is a form of prejudice, bias, and discrimination targeted by members of the same race. In this case, people of this race are treated differently due to social implications and cultural meanings that are attached to skin color. The way racism is targeted against people outside of their ethnicity, colorism is the discrimination against people because of a darker complexion. Now, the notion of racism and colorism is somewhat similar. With colorism, an individual with a lighter skin complexion is generally regarded as more valuable or beautiful than the next person with dark skin.

In today’s world and our community, discrimination based on skin color has spread through various sectors. From fashion to business, criminal justice, housing, economy, media, and even politics, colorism has taken over everywhere. Regardless of how widespread colorism is today, the black community has a crucial role to play. Now, it appears that the community has been consistent in spreading wrong ideas that have in turn created negative stereotypes outside the community. The community instead of being together has been divided on issues regarding black skin types.

How does what the community action and reactions against colorism affect stereotypes outside the community? First and foremost, the notion that one shade of black is better than the other or discriminated against has pit different parts of the community against each other. As a community, we must protect one another. People and communities of other races do so. They look beyond the differences in their communities. This should be the same for us. As a community, we need to have a common goal towards life and our outlook of life and establish oneness or togetherness.

As a community, being together on issues such as colorism fosters a good reputation. However, it goes beyond reputation. Our differences and the manner in which we handle colorism as a community cements long-lasting perceptions. These perceptions are pretty difficult to overcome as a majority.

Another essential issue is that of the interactions in the community. When an existing conversation concerning a sensitive topic like colorism energies, we should try to criticize constructively. This is because people are easily offended these days and it may lead to a prolonged dispute. Support is also required. Not everyone in the community has a grand knowledge of colorism. This makes people susceptible to mistakes. In this case, guidance, support, and correction are required. When people are taught about the topic, there will be a slight shift in the narrative. This could be beneficial in destroying stereotypes.

The need for oneness as a community cannot be overemphasized. Once we work towards educating ourselves and helping others, we can start mending the broken aspect of the community. It is in fact necessary to start looking beyond black lives matter. There’s the need to promote, protect, and foster black reputations both inside our community and outside. Basically, how we feed communication inside will be a reflection of what goes outside.



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Dr. Pamela Gurley, D.M.

Speaker | Author | CEO | Writer. The Un@pologetic Entrepreneur. Feat’d in Forbes, on Good Morning Washington & Fox5Atl. Connect on IG & Twitter: @iamdrpgurley