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Colorism: Skin Color Discrimination

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Colorism: Skin Color Discrimination

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Table of contents

  1. History of Colorism
  2. The Trend of Colors Across the World
  3. The Trend of Colorism in Asian Countries
  4. Skin Color Discrimination
  5. Feminist Perspective On Colorism
  6. Factors Promoting Colorism
  7. Impacts of Colorism
  8. Prejudice and Colorism

“Colorism is a function of skin color stratification, along with the function of intra-racial (members of the same race) discrimination” (Mathews, 2013).

History of Colorism

When this universe came into existence, there was no concept of discrimination on the behalf of skin color. However, gradually some changes occurred and people drew a line in black and white, rich and poor people, and so on. People showed interest in complexion and other’s status. Discrimination on the behalf of status, skin color, customs, birth place and language is known as racism. The concept of racism started between African American people possibly a direct blackish of slavery which started in America 1619. When a Dutch ship brought 20 Africans slaves in the British colony. That’s why American ruled on Africans and they thought them as inferior and lower. In 18th Century approximately 6 to 7 million black slaves were brought from European countries. There was division of two kinds of slaves. (1) House Negroes, who worked in the master’s house and (2) Field Negroes, who worked manual labor outside fields. Furthermore, mostly black women work domestically in the master’s house and sometimes these light skinned black women raped by their masters.

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The concept of racism and colorism are interlinked with each other and having fair complexion is considered as of the rich and those who belong to the upper class, whereas people who have darker skin tone are considered as poor and lower class. The notion of colorism begins in the Indian subcontinent. In the pre-colonial era wealthy people did not toil outside, whereas farmers or workers did that, due to these kind of reasons lighter skin represented as higher social castes and classes and dark skin referred as poor and low class. After that Europeans started the colonization in India subcontinent, they represented themselves as the master race. The concept approved in the United State that lighter skinned black are suitable for intelligent tasks and superior seat, whereas people who has dark skinned deserve labor work and in outside and that is inherent. In some parts of precolonial Africa, light-brown, yellow, or reddish tints were the favored pigmentations for women. However, in precolonial Congo, dark skin was preferred to such an extent that babies were put in the sunlight to get more black, evil looking. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination on the ground of color as well as race, 20 and 42 U.S.C. Section 1981, which guarantees to all the same rights to make and enforce contracts as white citizens.

The Trend of Colors Across the World

Fair complexion is always being desirable in all eras of life and everywhere in the world. People want “Gora rang” in all over the world. In America, Britain and Europe, light skin color is indicator of beauty and social status. Sixty years ago, Big Bill Broonzy sang about America’s Jim Crow system,

“If you are white, you’s alright,

If you’s brown, stick around,

But if you’s black, hmm, hmm, brother,

Get back, get back, get back”.

The Romans took over the Greek standard of beauty. Love and beauty are symbolized by their goddess Venus and it is stereotype of female beauty and sympathy. Beauty is measured by just physical appearances of women. A very popular statue, which is shown in Paris consider as standard of beauty. The Statue has naked body and sharp features with an expressionless face. The nose is a continuation of the forehead forming the 100 classic “Greek profile.”

The Trend of Colorism in Asian Countries

Chinese are also suffering complexion issues and desire for fair complexions. Although the priority of fair complexion changed throughout the time period in China, but now a day, wishing for fair skin tone is deeply rooted. People are restricted to custom of beauty. Attractive women are associated by whiteness, elegance and innocence and their skin linking by “snow,” “glass,” or “jade”.

Nearly all countries are suffering from this disease. Skin color is considered as beauty criteria, of human beings from the remote past. In South Asia, fair skin is studied as a legacy of upper class while dark skin is related to laborers working in the sun and in the battlegrounds. Indian community encourages color biases by preferring fair skin individuals over black individuals. All developing countries follow to develop countries and their rules, state of mind concept and culture. Dark skin tone people are also facing inferiority in India, although majority has a dark complexion.

Even in Pakistan, colorism is very common and people prefer light skin color. Whereas our prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) made this clear that there is no moral value attached with skin color of someone. We cannot judge any body’s spirit manifesting on their expression and skin tone like it is never important that someone who has bright or pale color is definitely brilliant and spirit manifesting. In our society, beauty, status and attractiveness relates with fair complexion. In our culture complexion relate with caste system like fair complexion people must be belonging to the “Pathans” and “Kashmiri” families. Whereas who are darks it is confirmed that they belong to “Rajput” and “Jutt” families.

Skin Color Discrimination

Due to colorism and racism many problems arose in almost every field, everywhere in life. In European Countries, chefs, drivers and the waitress are listed “light colored” and with primary qualification and experiences etc. Staples said. “They did it to improve their chances and to reassure white employers who… found dark skin, unpleasant or believed that their customers would”.

Preference of light people is very coarse and very huge. People prefer a horrible and scary person with having lighter skin than darker person. Colorism also is often gendered. Because women are more conscious about skin color and they also face its affects as compared to men.

According to Maqsood (2015), in Asia fair skinned people dominate as well. Dark skinned people are considered as inferior and they don’t work in offices, marriage market even they are not dominant in homes. All people assume that self-esteem, self-efficacy and emotions are less in dark skinned people than light skinned people. Due to inferiority complex people want fair complexion and suffer with psychological problems like poor self- confidence, poor interaction and feel inferior. Indian shows and media promote discrimination in the hiring process and especially in matrimonial ads and prefer those people who, have a light skin tone.

People suffer discrimination in also employment context. Normally light people prefer on some seats like reception, sale girls, etc. when women come to offices for jobs, they face lot of problems and discrimination because they face rejection due to dark skin tone. Selection board selects pretty girls “White and Beautiful” good physical appearance”. The relevant federal statutes frequently invoked in these claims are Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination on the ground of color as well as race, 20 and 42 U.S.C. Section 1981, which guarantees to all the same rights to establish and enforce contracts as white citizens.

Feminist Perspective On Colorism

Now feminist takes some action to snap off the concept and system of colors in the India subcontinent. They run some campaigns recently started to celebrate all skin tones. According to feminists skin color on body shape is not important for success and men have no right to distinguish girls on the bases of their gender and appearance. People should be recognized by their characters, their work and achievements. A feminist told her story that she has a dark complexion that’s why her family neglected her then she realized that every child need proper attention, but when he/she cannot gain attention than he/she feel inferior and he/she loses his/her confidence.

In 2013, a campaign” Dark is Beautiful” is launched by an activist group which was affirmed by Indian theatre actress Nandita Sen. In other feminist group, the women argue the Advertising Standards Council of India to issue guidelines in 2014 stating that “ads should not reinforce negative social stereotyping on the basis of skin color” or “portray people with darker skin inferior or unsuccessful in any aspect of life particularly in relation to being attractive to the opposite sex”. This argument is in retaining with the Indian constitution, which provides equality for all and prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religious belief, race, caste, gender or place of birth. Alas, the law can do little to block up the subtler patterns of racial discrimination and bigotry present in Indian society. And, to date, that vagina bleaching product is nonetheless on the market. The “bleaching syndrome” goes far beyond skin color, with Indian women also questioning their hair texture and color, speech, marital choices and dress style, raising real concerns about female self-esteem. As Aranya Johar rhymed on YouTube, “With the hope of being able some day to love another/let’s start out by being our own first lovers”.

A few years ago, a movement started as the name of “Black Girl Magic” from Hollywood media in movies and films etc. across the country. No doubt in this that this is a huge step for on-screen, but problem is that this represents only fixed by Hollywood’s colorism issues.

Factors Promoting Colorism

There are many factors which promote this colorism fact, but the media play a very huge role to enhance colors. As we know that everybody wants fair complexion and then promotions of whitening products in media magazines, etc. is the main reason of attraction towards fair complexion. India has a powerful media and has a great influence on lives. People follow their culture, lifestyles and set role models and live in a fantasy world. Indian media promote this message that bright skin tone has more chances of success as compared to dark skinned tone people. The fairness industry first developed as a reaction to consumer need. In 1975, Unilever launched a commercial skin lightening cream called “Fair & Lovely.” When they launched this product and get high success that’s why other companies followed their idea and made some new products and their target were women at started but after some time they made whitening products for men as well. In 2005, Emami launched the “Fair and Handsome” cream with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan as its brand ambassador and it is now a market place leader. In the ad, Shah Rukh Khan gave a tube of fairness cream to a young fan, telling him that fairness is the secret to success in life. It is a strategy that bleaching products to adopt a superior identity that shows that fair skin is better, more powerful, and beautiful. This practice is not only in India but it exists in Africa and Asia as well. Gorgeous young women can be impressed by having clean skin only. This strategy shows as fair skin tone is desirable whereas dark skin is a problem which needs to be corrected.

All material which shown on TV channels is based on colorism. In all our movies and dramas shown that all main lead roles for those girls and boys who, having light skin tones, whereas those who are dark skin tone are usually from the lower class, villain etc. Our media sets our minds through movies, dramas and even from songs.

Impacts of Colorism

There are many impacts of colorism like positive and negative on our society. Firstly, we discuss some positive impacts. Due to favor of light skin tone people buy many creams and other products which enhance our economy rates. According to Future Market Insights’ research report that whitening products are lead to higher rates in market.

Due to these lotions and creams market value of over US$ 8,900 Mn in 2027, up from about US$ 4,800 Mn in 2017, growing at a CAGR of 6.4% during the forecast period of 2017-2027. This increase in profit can be assigned to the wide availability of lotions and creams in the skin care industry. Increasing research and development in the whitening products, industry gets a huge benefit and due to these products, company and country gets lots of profit. The serum and toner market is expected to see a relatively higher growth rate than other product types with a 6.8 % CAGR in terms of revenue recorded during the forecast period. The market’s growth is also a consequence of rising annual expenditure on skin maintenance, merchandise.

Now we discuss some negative impacts of colorism like people use many dangerous and harmful products and they waste their money and time for only craze of whiteness.

According to Harley Street dermatologist Dr. Aamer Khan, who has experienced a rise in adult females suffering from serious skin conditions as a consequence of attempting to bleach their skin. “I see patients with hypopigmentation (loss of pigment) resulting in white patches and hyperpigmentation leading to darker areas – both are caused by skin bleaching agents. People buy these creams that offer false hopes, but the fact is, there is no safe way to whiten your skin. There needs to be more stringent moderating of these products, as it is a very serious problem”.

According to a report mostly females use whitening products on daily basis. A woman who has light skin tone is considered as more beautiful and attractive. Most females bleach their faces and they are known as “the bleachers.” This dangerous practice risks cancer and mercury poisoning, among other ills, simply it is the price they are willing to pay for desirability, love, and economic stability.

Prejudice and Colorism

In our society, some perceptions exist which are based on colorism and people follow them like it is a fact that a woman who has fair complexion is full of confidence and successful lady. In our society, people consider that who have light skin tone, they are full of confidence and they have more option about their career and success, but it is not true that all darks are dull and lights are successful whereas in our society we neglect those who have dark skin color and that’s why they feel inferior and they have a lack of confidence. There are many dark personalities who are successful like Bark Obama (President of America), Marguerite Annie Johnson (poet and author), Toni Morrison (American Novelist), Michael Jackson (king of pop), Amina Sheikh (famous Pakistani Actress), Amina Illyas (Pakistani Actress).

In our society, it is a general concept that beauty has a power woman wanting to represent it, whereas men want to hold that women represent beauty and beauty is important for women and not for men, it is necessary for women and natural. Women’s beauty relates to their fertility and sexual selection. It is considered that beautiful women are reproductively wealthy and only beautiful woman deserves a strong man. It is a Darwin’s theory that women are more fertile who have light skin tone, but it totally misses the concept because the hormones of every woman are same. There are other reasons for those who cannot fertile. It does never relate to skin tone, but it does relate with hormones.

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