What’s the difference between racism and colourism?

· Philosophy, Popular culture

Colourism has been defined as the belief that people with dark skin are inherently inferior to light-skinned people. It is more specific than racism. Racism applies to any race feeling that they are superior to another race, or any individual within that race. Colourism specifically has to do with discrimination against those with dark skin.


Black people can also be colourists if they are not proud of their dark-skinned brothers and sisters. We can look at the example of the Jackson family, particularly Michael Jackson He had extensive plastic surgery to make himself appear to be white and that he did not have any dark-skinned black children. Janet Rowe, the surrogate, was white.


Some have pointed out also that Beyonce plays down her blackness because she wants to fit in with the white society. Rihanna has also been cited as someone who tries to look as white as possible. Of course, the reason for this might not be self-hatred but business sense because studies have been done to show that unfortunately magazine covers with pictures of black people on them do not sell as well. I remember this being true with reference to soap operas. On The Young and the Restless, for example, soap publications stopped running cover stories on the Winters family because they did not sell as well. Of course, some doubt this because it has long been known that this soap opera over the years has had a very large black demographic. 


Another interesting case in point is Halle Berry. When Berry won her Academy Award in 2002 for Monster’s Ball, she tearfully exclaimed how the barriers were breaking against black women. However, many criticized Berry for being a bit hypocritical because she is not a dark-skinned black woman and as a very successful Hollywood actress, has not suffered the discrimination that many black people unfortunately have. One thing is for sure, both colourism and racism still exist to a large degree. 

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