Colorism: Just as Stupid As It Sounds

Here’s a term you’ve probably not heard that much, but you have heard the misnamed version of what it is: colorism. If you don’t know what that is, think “racism” but a bit more accurate.

The term racism is a bit misleading. Usually, and I mean usually – but I’ll get to that in a moment, it means to discriminate based on a person’s skin color. However, if you think about it, that doesn’t really make sense. Race is a scientific term is merely a classification system to differentiate between subspecies. For example, cats would be a species and tiger would be a species… although probably in Latin and hard to pronounce. Race among humans, well, it doesn’t exist, does it? There is some bizarre argument that Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid are sub-races among the overall, human race, but saying you don’t like someone based on skin color is racism is wholly inaccurate.

Saying something is racist because of the visible characteristics is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, wrong. It’s not racist. “I don’t like Steve because he’s [fill in the ethnicity]” is not a racist statement. A racist statement would be “I don’t like any humans.” Human Race. That’s a thing. A real, honest-to-God (if there is such a being) thing. What that statement about Steve is, for the most part, colorist. You don’t like Steve because of his skin color. But that’s a generalization that doesn’t have any merit behind it. Is there a characteristic that one particular skin tone has over another? The only thing that really comes to mind are things that could, and should, be taken as positive. Asians are good at math. Accurate? Possibly. I’m sure there are some that aren’t. And I do apologize but the only other one that comes to mind is: black men have large genitalia. True? I wouldn’t know. Besides, is that a reason to hate someone? No! Of course not. Be jealous? Maybe, but hate?

So, the term racist is inaccurate and misleading, but the prejudices exist. What to call it then becomes an issue. The best term I’ve come up with is “colorist.” That’s what it boils down to, the skin color. That, of course, is an asinine reason to hate someone. Remove the skin from every human on the planet and, well, they’d all be dead… but they’d look the same to the naked eye! That is, frankly, a stupid reason and, therefore, deserving of a stupid name. Racism sounds important and scientific. Colorism sounds like you got into a fight with a box of Crayola. And who, outside of a kindergartner, fights with their crayons? That sounds like a stupid idea – therefore, it is the perfect name for a stupid idea. The inane hatred for someone because of skin color should now, and forever more, be referred to as colorism.

But, let’s not stop there! The stupidity goes much deeper than that. Accuracy of the colors – that’s an issue that is rarely addressed. As an example, I’ve been told that I’m a white guy. Caucasian. Of course, according to George Carlin, Caucasian sounds like a shoe style – I digress. I’m not white. The background of a Google search page is white. Notebook paper kids use in school is white. A billiards cue ball is white. After a fairly thorough examination of my skin color, and a scan through my daughter’s box of crayons, I have determined that I am not white, but, in fact, somewhere between tan and beige. I have know many people who consider themselves African American, and, in fact, actual Africans, who are often referred to as black, but, that, too, is inaccurate. Most of them range from, and this is the Crayola terminology, mocha to dark chocolate. The gamut between is not black. Often their hair is black, but not their skin color. So, calling people white or black is just wrong.

There are a myriad of others I could go through. Asians are not yellow. Native Americans are not red. Middle Eastern people are not olive, although that one really confuses me because I only know green and black olives and they’re not even close to either. If I left out your particular skin tone, please do not take it personally. I only have so much time to write today and I went after the two biggest groups that scream racism at each other to make this point: Colorism is a stupid idea. We’re all human. If you’re going to hate someone, do it because that particular individual did something to you specifically. Okay, maybe a friend or family member can be included on that list of victims, but you should get the point.

Look at all the colors sitting there all next to each other getting along just fine.  (hint hint)
Look at all the colors sitting there all next to each other getting along just fine. (hint hint)

Unfortunately, there is another variation on Racism that has popped up in the past decade or so. The hatred of people based on social characteristics, such as religion or sexual preference. Being Christian or Jewish or Muslim is not a racial characteristic. Therefore, not racism. Being hetro or homo or omni-sexual is not a racial characteristic either. Again, not racism. Those are mere prejudices and I’ll deal with them in another entry. I will say, however, that both are, and I’d love to use another term but I can’t find a more accurate one than: stupidity based on ignorant hate.

Hate isn’t healthy anyway, but to hate someone based on the generalization of their skin color makes absolutely no sense. And calling that particular hate “racism” merely gives it some pseudo-scientific sounding reason. Call it colorism. That way when someone makes a colorist statement, you can call them colorist, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll say, “that sounds stupid!” – and realize, so is what they just said.

Just in case someone has a cow, I am not suggesting, in any way, that you should give up any ethnic history you want to have or celebrate. That’s your own thing and it is wonderful. Go for it. It’s great. It is a magnificent thing that I, frankly, am a little jealous of. As I mentioned, I’m categorized as Caucasian. My ethnic background tends to have the word ‘cleansing’ attached to it. My personal background? Not that I know of, I meant as a grouped and inaccurately named color. If I celebrate it, it’s considered an act of hate white is the opposite of what I’m trying to do here.

We’ve had it wrong all these years. Then again, the people who have been colorist have had it wrong as well. Perhaps, we should just all try to get along. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing to see. Be good to each other.

4 comments

  1. Love it, and agree with everything you wrote (almost). The best thing is “Hate isn’t healthy”…I know in my heart that’s a good thing, I also know in my heart, that it’s not that easy. If anyone tells me they have NEVER hated, unless he’s a Buddhist Monk , I’m gonna call him a liar. I get the crayon & color thing… and it is correct if you take the time to think about it… but few folks will. As for the “variations” on racism and racist – That will not change anyone who is. They won’t care – but for those of us who aren’t, it makes a lot of sense. Good job old sport!

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  2. Of course you realize that the thread of logic that you follow almost makes too much sense and will never be picked up by the mainstream as they’ll say color is just a description and has nothing to do with their emotional state or the way they act. Or, it’s not the color that makes you racist, it’s the racism that makes you colored.

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