There is an idea that people who are racialized as non-white are a homogenous group, without variation. Colorism is a term that makes visible the structural inequality that affect individuals who are racialized as non-white in different ways, depending on how you are racialized.
Non-white people with lighter skin tones often have privileges and benefits in relation to people with darker skin tones. Statistics clearly show how skin tone can be connected to socioeconomic status.
The differences are also clear in how black people, or Afro-Swedes, are more often subjected to violence and discrimination in Swedish society. On the internet, it is also clear that Afro-Swedes are the people who are most subjected to hate speech.
Colorism is a direct result of colonialism and slavery, when people with lighter skin tones received better treatment and benefits from slave owners and colonizers compared to people with darker skin.
To reflect on and to do:
- Look at your own privileges! If you are racialized as white - what does that mean in society? How does this affect how people see you? Often times we do not think about whiteness because it is the norm. Even if you are racialized as non-white, think about how you are affected by racism in different ways.
- Question current beauty ideals. Colorism is deeply rooted in European beauty ideals, which means that when non-white people are seen or heard in popular culture, it is most often light-skinned people who are seen. Think about how beauty and whiteness ideals are connected and why. Who or what is able to take up space and be visible in our social media?
- Think about the violence and suspicion of non-white people, and who is most often subjected to scrutiny and monitoring. Remember to be an ally, speak up or question when you see it happen — both online and offline. Record or gather digital evidence. Speak with the person who is being subjected and ask how they’re feeling.
Tired of no one understanding the problem?
Use our micro activism posters! Send it anonymously, hang it up in the coffee room, or spread it on your social media. Colorism is real!