“I’ve had my own inner monologues about colourism and heard people talking about colourism in abstractions, but here was a roomful of people giving real world examples of how colourism has affected them, and the impact of that struck me at my core.”Daniela Capistrano, Attendee, Workshop at Allied Media Conference 2013 | Founder, POC Zine Project
COLORISM DEFINITION:A Working Definition by Jyoti Gupta, Founder and Creative Director, The Colo(u)rism Project
Colo(u)rism, which thrives on a community’s silence, is the practice of creating, or a system that creates, opportunities for people with light skin, regardless of their true strengths
Colourism is rampant worldwide, from the Philippines to Chile, from Australia to Mexico, altering life chances for individuals with dark skin and leading to the exploitative skin lightening product industry. Deconstructing media and cultural messaging about skin color while tackling its social effects is the way forward.
The variety of spaces in which people need to be having these conversations—within and across racial, caste-based, cultural, and/or ethnic groups, regardless of class and age—is beyond comprehensible. Each conversation feels a little different from the last, even though it fits the power structures and relations prevalent in that cultural system.
“I had never been in a room before with both other POC and white folks talking about personal experiences with colourism…”
Putting the U in Color
Putting the U in Color, a first exhibit of its kind, challenged the biases targeting girls and women (and men) with dark skin. While focusing on media culture back home in India, the exhibit found immense resonance with people of color who came to the show, housed in a Houston coffee shop in the historic Third Ward. Watch a 4-min video below.
“The media do not want us to know that the $10 billion skin-lightening product industry perpetuates skin-color stereotypes and discrimination. Spanning four decades, the myth-building has filled pockets of manufacturers.”Jyoti Gupta, , Founder and Creative Director, The Colo(u)rism Project
Colors of Brown: Dispelling Skin-Color Bias through Online Dialogue was published in 2008. The website delved into the “why” of this centuries-old tradition, one that continues to this day. Conversations with scholars, as well as references in the ancient Indian traditions of art, folk literature, and dance, led the discussion toward the roots of skin-color bias. Candid interviews with media icons, as well as people on the street in New Delhi, confirmed that colorism and the skin-lightening product industry were entrenched. To read about Bollywood beauty standards, the skin-lightening product industry, and counterculture and defiance in alternative cinema and elsewhere, visit www.colorsofbrown.org.
View videos by clicking the link below: https://www.youtube.com/user/colorsofbrown.