Who taught you to hate yourself? Colorism

The term colorism has been thrown around in the public domain a lot in recent years. It has been seen to spark many debates particularly on black twitter. Many celebrities in the black community have been accused of perpetuating colorist ideas.

Picture of Malcolm X
Image by Unseen Histories | Unsplash

But what exactly is colorism?

Colorism is a neologism coined by Alice Walker. It refers to the prejudice made towards another person in the same racial group. This is resultant in preferential treatment towards those with lighter skin thus a closer proximity to whiteness. Those with lighter skin are considered to be more desirable. These ideas have been seen to be embedded culturally and psychologically in the black and also the POC community. The dichotomy between light and dark has been actualized through systemic inequality and institutionalized racism dating back to Willie Lynch. Also the media plays a huge role via the presentation of the accepted model of beauty as one with lighter skin. This preferential treatment has manifested itself in self hate internalised in the black community.


Self-hate has been particularly problematic in the black community. It can be seen to have actualized itself through the culture towards bleaching and also interracial relationships, which will be discussed later. Speaking on the effects of self hate manifested by colorism. It has meant that black women may feel like they are less than because of the western standard of beauty and also feel rejected and neglected by black men. Self hate can also be seen to have taken a huge toll on black men through the way in which they can be seen to also be a huge part of perpetuating colorism. This can be seen through the way in which they tend to dismiss issues that black women face such as colorism. This erasure of issues as such helps in perpetuating it. Therefore, many black men can be seen to be fundamentally flawed in this sense. They also tend to attach negative stereotypes to black women, as having an attitude and being aggressive, pushing the popular stereotype of the angry black woman.