Alice Walker is a novelist, poet, short fiction writer and activist. Author of the renowned novel ‘The Color Purple,’ which was adapted to film, Ms. Walker is believed to have devised the term “colourism.” However, discrimination or hate based on skin colour existed hundreds of years before Ms. Walker, now almost 75, first uttered the word “colourism.” Though it is a result of racism caused by white supremacy, which evolved from colonialism, which itself birthed slavery and indentureship, colourism is mostly perpetuated by those within the same ethnic group. It is darker people who are predominantly negatively affected.
But what impact does colourism have on our society in which the majority of the people are of Asian or African origin?
People are trained to perpetuate colourism intentionally and unintentionally from birth. It is so deep-rooted in some families that a baby’s ears are examined when he or she is born to estimate how dark they will be. In many families, those who are born with lighter skin are more esteemed. In schools colourism often results in bullying by way of name calling. In many instances, when teenagers begin to date it is the lighter-skinned, girls or ‘red women’ as we Guyanese say, who are more desired, even by the darkest boys. And though there are dark-skinned girls who are also desired, often when a dark woman is beautiful, though they are everywhere, it is seen as an anomaly; so instead of just telling her she is beautiful mention often has to be made about the colour of her skin…..