An obvious example of racism would be the denial of opportunity to a person because he or she is Black. Colorism teaches us that beauty is not found in a darker skin complexion or textured hair. Our whole lives we are directed to think the standard of beauty is Eurocentric — blue eyes, light skin, tall and slim build, and straight blond hair are what many describe as beautiful. Some people would argue that what I just characterized as colorism is a preference, not racism. But that is when colorism is revealed.

Historically, people of lighter skin have been associated with wealth, success, beauty and wholesomeness, while people of darker skin are viewed as less than subpar.

Colorism may date back to slavery, but it’s an ongoing problem today

Slave owners often exploited and sexualized Black women. Black women who were enslaved were considered objects, sometimes viewed as a piece of meat. White people believed Black women were different in terms of appearance, maturation, sexual organs and aesthetics. White men felt so entitled to Black women’s bodies that they forced themselves onto them and made them objects of sexual pursuit. When enslaved women were impregnated by Whites, their children with lighter skin would be treated differently, often they were assigned to work inside the slave owner’s house, while dark-complexioned children worked outside.