THE BLOG

On Colourism And Other "Isms"

We are all discriminated against. Every. Day. Everyone one us. There is no tribe, race, gender or religion that does not have judgement against it.

29/01/2017 04:57 SAST
Shutterstock / bikeriderlondon
Young woman celebrating bridal shower with friends

Colourism is defined as the prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group (see Google's first million pages).

Yes. I had to look it up. Unless you have experienced the sharp end of colourism or indeed, are of the darker-skinned races then you probably have not heard of colourism and could not possibly, completely understand it. You could wrap your mind around it and measure some slight in your life against it but; you could not truly comment on colourism.

So, here I am. White, looking up the definition for colourism and... lo and behold... commenting on it.

I would imagine that experiencing judgement from the very people whom you consider YOUR people must sting worse than a seriously pissed-off hornet. Being let down by your "own" hurts like nothing else and for that reason, I can totally understand why being judged on the gradient of your skin tone, by the people who share your skin tone could leave one feeling confused and hurt.

As if minorities, don't have enough to deal with... Now they must deal with some "ism" within their own ranks? Well, in all the other parts of the world anyway. The darker skins are not the minority in South Africa... Which I guess, makes me a minority then, doesn't it? Cool – so I CAN comment on being a minority!

We are so much more open nowadays to inter-racial relationships and their children that it would only be natural that variations of the darker and lighter skin tones will end up in a battle of "who wore it best". Or, have there always been variations on darker skin tones? See... My white privilege is showing and don't you dare judge me because you have no idea what it takes to have an opinion on a topic you really know nothing about. Or what it takes to turn white skin, brown, during the summer (that's a whole other article, some white girls can be super judgemental toward other white girls!).

Is darker even a politically correct term? I don't know anymore. Words are getting such a bad rep. We can't say black, we can't say white... We can't refer to anything that we've never personally experienced.

At least I'm not a ginger, right?

Gingers get the worst of what I'm assuming colourism might be on my side of the fence. Can you imagine how awful it must have been if the world has responded with an "International Ginger Day"... Only really bad things get an entire day all to themselves.... Don't they?

What about the lighter skinned, dark skinned peeps? After watching a few video's and reading a few articles (is this not defined as research?), I've realised that the lighter skinned, darker people are also facing judgement from their darker counterparts. Is darker even a politically correct term? I don't know anymore. Words are getting such a bad rep. We can't say black, we can't say white... We can't refer to anything that we've never personally experienced.

What about people who come from bilingual or multi-religion families? Are you ever really enough for one or the other?

I think that's my point really and I'll coin a new term here. Let's call it "maturitism".

You are enough. There is only one of you. Your skin colour, is perfect for you. People will always have opinions. What's trending on social media and in advertising (in my opinion) is not a true reflection of what everyone feels and thinks. And, the older you get, the more comfortable you feel in your skin.

You reach a point in life where you just don't give a flying f... hoot (I said hoot!) what other people think. You are who you are.

I understand the need for social commentary and I get that we need to talk about these things. But perhaps, we need to talk more about the tools each individual needs than we need to complain about something that will always exist.

We are smarter than any "isms". I'm convinced of it. - Amellia Joon

We are all discriminated against. Every. Day. Everyone one us. There is no tribe, race, gender or religion that does not have judgement against it. We may as well lean in and accept that fact. Fighting it, is going to make us crazy. You discriminate too! It's almost a human instinct... Some throwback from caveman days where we had to survive purely on instinct and sight. We discriminate quickly to spare ourselves some atrocity. But here's some news – not all people are all the same, even if we look similar. We may share similar characteristics but we are all, gasp... Different. Some Asian people are not good at math, some white people are not racist and not all Muslims blow things up for a living.

Discernment, people! We like to define things – that's why we have calendars, clocks and dictionaries. We like to label stuff – it makes us feel like we understand the world around us. So, naturally, we pay attention to society's trends and fall in line (what's that saying about a chain is only as strong as its weakest link? And there HAS to be a weaker link, right? Otherwise... #apocalypse)

Let's replace discrimination, with discernment!

So really, my comment is only this – give it time and give it consideration. Both to the people discriminating and to yourself. You don't have to accept the invitation to every label that is passed your way. You CAN make things different – you CAN change minds. You might have to work harder than other people (ultimately, doesn't each one of us have to work harder than someone else at something?) but eventually, your life will reach a place where you practice more gratefulness, where YOU set the tone of how people perceive you and where you embrace who you are. Once you reach that phase, people comment less and less. And; you find it less interesting to discriminate and comment in return. Of course, some people will always feel the need to judge and you cannot control that but you can control how you react – what you absorb, what you make your own and what you allow to define you. And don't be an idiot. Be kind. It really is a choice.