All over the world, darker skin puts millions of people at a disadvantage. Within societies of color, lighter skin often confers better access, better perks, and better mental and physical health. (First of a four-part series on coloring by WebMD)
November 3, 2022 – in Asian, Black, and Latino communities, coloring It is the elephant in the room, sitting at the family dinner table, group photo session, meeting strangers for the first time, or even playing in the kindergarten class. This phenomenon is so deeply rooted within communities of color that it is almost taboo to talk about it. Or maybe it hurts too much to call you by name.
But, if you are not a person of color, this concept can seem quite strange; But that’s fine, keep reading. until boiling coloring Down to a simple explanation, it’s discrimination, prejudice, and intolerance based on skin tone and color.
“Similarities in colors across [Asian, Black, and Latino] Societies are specifically associated with an adoration and glorification of whiteness and the perception that anything European and light-skinned is better,” says Niley Y Chavez Duenas, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor at the Chicago School of Occupational Psychology.
This includes ideas such as, “White people – followed by light-skinned people – are smarter, more capable, and worthy of society. Privilegessuch as access to better jobs, and wealth,” she says.
In the new docu series, “Color by WebMD: WebMD’s Exploration of Race and Mental Health,” we’ll begin by addressing the color and extravagant mental health effects of this phenomenon. We’ll also look at ways to break down the multigenerational thinking patterns that prevent some people of color from truly recognizing and appreciating the beauty of different skin shades.
Coloring vs. Racism
Differentiate between colors Racism It can be tricky because one bleeds into the other, according to Radhika Parameswaran, Ph.D., and associate dean of the Indiana University School of Media in Bloomington. Racism relates to the attitudes, behaviors, and treatment of one ethnic group to another. For example, the way the white community deals with the Asian community. On the other hand, colors consider how members of the color community treat each other.
“So, in some ways, the coloring is also about inner racism,” Parameswaran says.
Where does coloring come from?
While colors are rooted within certain ethnic groups, we can trace their origins back to European colonialism, says Vanessa Gunlin, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology at the University of Georgia. For African-American communities in the United States, coloring stems from the servitude of staples. Colonists established a skin-tone hierarchy in which light-skinned slaves were more likely to be “placed at home” and assigned to cooking, cleaning, and other duties often considered “easier,” Gunlin explains. Dark-skinned slaves often worked in the fields.
“This led to actual divisions among the slaves,” she says. “You are less likely to band together for a slave rebellion if you have these perceived differences already enacted based on your occupation.”
even after ReleaseSome African Americans have maintained colorful ideas within their communities. Junlin sets a notorious example.”brown paper bag test‘, particularly among some Greek fraternities and sororities Over the Twentieth century.
“If your skin was lighter than a brown paper bag, you were allowed into certain places,” Junlin says.
Coloring in Asian and Latin American societies
When the Spaniards began to colonize Latin America late 15th centuryThey created a rating system. Light-skinned people were at the top and those with darker skin and non-European facial features (for example, a narrow nose or thin lips) were at the bottom of the ranking order, according to Chavez-Dueñas.
They used this [ranking order] to dehumanize and exclude people from indigenous or Afro-descendant populations.” “This system has been operating for centuries throughout Latin America.”
And in many Asian cultures, coloring began long before the arrival of Europeans. Instead, the bias in skin color was related to social class.
“If you’re fair-skinned, that means you don’t toil outside in the field,” says Junlin. “It was the idea of having the luxury or the means to stay inside. If you’re dark-skinned, you’re a factor.”
start at home
Perhaps the ugliest fact across cultures is that coloring usually begins at home. Chavez Duenas says thoughts of self-doubt can be introduced too early and can be hard to shake off. In fact, coloring often begins before birth. She says comments like, “I hope your baby turns white” or “I hope he has good hair” can be common for pregnant women.
In some families, Parameswaran says, there is often praise for siblings who have a lighter skin tone.
“It will be searched for to display to the public.”
This may sound daunting, but it’s important to keep in mind that many families only want the best for their children, says Parameswaran. The idea that fair skin provides children with less social stigma, more job opportunities, romantic partners, and an “easier life” in general fuels the colorful narrative.
The harsh reality of dark-skinned children
Colorful comments are usually spoken during a casual conversation and often become natural. Dark-skinned children can develop feelings of exclusion and low self-esteem, even to the point where they believe their parents “don’t love them as much as, perhaps, a light-skinned sibling,” Parameswaran says.
“The child ends up bearing a lot of stigma Shame – It’s like a heavy backpack,” Parameswaran says. Sometimes they don’t have that vocabulary to express those feelings. So, they keep it inside themselves, and it can be very destructive in the long run.
Some children tolerate this shame into adulthood, which can make it difficult to maintain romantic relationships and “simply be yourself as much as possible,” she says.
Next, we will talk with mental health experts about how to overcome mental state shock of coloring. We’ll also explore ways that more people of color can – at their core – truly appreciate the beauty of rich skin tones and other racial features.
Stay tuned! The next episode is scheduled to release on November 17.