Colorism

Posted by Spalding Hurst

February 28, 2021

We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family.” (Laudato Si, #52)

Colorism, discussed briefly in Sr. Carlette’s story, is a trend similar to racism in that the color of one’s skin defines their lived experience. However, colorism usually presents as preference for individuals with lighter skin tones instead of darker skin tones, especially within or between the same racial or ethnic groups. Colorism is a global cultural phenomenon that emerges from our history of colonialism and imperialism. Similar to racism, colorism can manifest in environmental prejudice as well. Sr. Carlette’s story is evidence of this, as lighter-skinned descendants of British colonizers in Belize have increased access to resources and land over darker-skinned communities.

How do our languages and cultures perpetuate colorist ideas, ‘darkness’ being something to fear, and ‘light’ being inherently better? God created the light to accompany the darkness, and did not term either “good” nor “bad”. Think, journal, or talk with a friend about how we can work to un-learn inherent bias within ourselves against certain races and skin tones. Then please read the following poem by Derek C. Weber; Discipleship Ministries, the United Methodist Church (Jan 2021)

How do we begin, Lord of all things new?
How do we begin to build a new world,
new relationships, new understandings?
How do we start over and build a community of acceptance,
a world of diversity, a family of trust?

Shall we begin with confession, with lament and sorrow?
Of course, we have, and we will continue to confess our deepest sin of hatred and division. Until all among us realize how divided we are, how unjust we are, how broken we all are.
But surely there are beginnings to be made,
words to be spoken, work to be done.
Surely there are ways to see with new eyes,
brothers and sisters, who are different and yet the same.

How do we begin, God of second chances?
Let it begin with me. Amen.

2 Comments

  1. Liz

    Thank you. I just finished reading “learning to Walk in the Dark” . We learn so early in life that light is good. I’ve experienced this in our SCN community among my sisters. May I also continue to learn to walk in beautiful darkness.

    Reply
  2. S. Rita D.

    No one has ever asked to be born the way one was born, so it seems to me that takes care of anyone thinking they’re better than someone else in regard to skin color.

    Reply

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