By Ed Diokno
“Colorism” – that’s a word I just learned. I may not be familiar with the term, but I’m familiar with the social values that perpetuate it.
Thanks to our friends at BuzzFeed for doing this video, What Dark-skinned People Will Never Tell You. In light of what’s happening to our country with the most hate-filled Presidential campaign I’ve ever seen feeding the racism of bigots, perhaps we should look at the more subtle version of that racism within our own ethnic groups.
Not only do Asian Americans — as people of color — have to deal with the prejudice of the still-dominant culture in the U.S., but we also have to come to terms with the “colorism” that taints our own communities and colors our individual perspective of where we fit in and warps our own self-image.
Whether it is because of slavery, colonialism or the sneaky persuasion of Madison Avenue, in the world over, lighter-skinned people are seen as more attractive than darker-skinned people. In case you’ve forgotten the Chinese detergent commercial, I’ve provided a link below.
The standard of beauty has dominated most of the world for so long that we don’t even recognize its Eurocentric origins — from the Greek statues to the Renaissance paintings to the Sports Illustrated bathing suit edition.
Although the people in the video have learned to live with their own natural color, that doesn’t excuse the pain caused by what our society think is beautiful. What most of our culture believes to be beautiful shouldn’t be so ugly.