Social Justice Project Explores How Colorism Affects Race Relations
Speaker 1: 00:00 Today we continue our spotlight on the social justice reporting project, a multi-part series by the San Diego union Tribune. The report we focus on now deals with the issue of colorism, the preferential treatment of people with lighter skin, by others of the same or different race and the prejudicial treatment of people with darker skin by those of the same or different race. Joining us now is the author of the report. Savannah cadet, Haines, Savannah. Hi, Speaker 2: 00:28 Thank you so much for having me on today. Decided Speaker 1: 00:31 To take on colorism for this social justice project. What moved you to take on this topic? Speaker 2: 00:37 What moved me to take on this topic is my own experiences firsthand experiencing colorism growing up and still actually experiencing it. Now that I'm getting older, growing up, it was so common in my community. As I talk about it a lot in my story in high school is when I really started to notice, um, the peak of colorism. Speaker 1: 00:58 And what ways did that play out in your life? Speaker 2: 01:00 Growing up, I was very lighter skin complexion. I had curly hair in high school. I was also like on the cheer team. So that gave me a lot of opportunities or it seemed that way that a lot of people favored me over someone else that was not of the same skin complexion. That was a little darker or didn't have curlier hair or just kind of had different textured hair. So that's when I really started to notice that being lighter skin was in my favor compared to other skin complexions. Where does colorism come from? What's its root. I think colorism takes back all the way back to slavery. Um, when you're learning about it in history, you learn that a lot of the white masters raped black women and the black women would eventually have biracial children. So biracial children would work in the house or work as like a housemaid while other children that were darker skin complexion or just black worked outside in the fields. So that kind of carried on into our society now, which is why lighter skinned people are treated fairly different compared to darker skin people. Speaker 1: 02:08 Tell me about the people you spoke with and how colorism plays out in their lives. Speaker 2: 02:13 The people that I spoke with, I actually had the opportunity to grow up with a lot of them. Um, whether that be in schools, I did pageants with a lot of the girls that I interviewed and I kind of just been able to see them grow entirely. And some of the women that I have, um, highlighted I also, or have also started their own businesses or are becoming journalists themselves. So I have a variety of women that I was able to speak to, but one that I can specifically touch base on is, um, in the videos, you can see that I interviewed a lady named Johnny Petty's Wilson, and she briefly discussed how being black has affected her in her pantry. And by doing this for a lot of the years, society viewed white women as the best competitors, as opposed to black women. And since she was a black woman competing in pageants, she felt that she had to act a certain way or her hair have to look a certain way or her makeup had to be a little bit lighter so that she could fit in and potentially have a chance at winning. Speaker 2: 03:18 Um, that's a woman that I was able to touch base with about colorism as well. And you know, colorism Speaker 1: 03:24 Is as old as, as slavery and colonialism, as you mentioned, how has it been experienced differently through the years? You think now this Speaker 2: 03:33 Is more in work, atmospheres, school atmospheres, people's personal lives, such as dating and marriage. I touched base on that too. In my article, how I see that it's more complicated for women that are darker skin to be fairly treated differently or look differently compared to someone like myself who is lighter skinned. A lot of the women now, um, that are lighter skin are often fantasised or black women are feticizit as well as more like being checked off the list. Um, when it comes to dating, a lot of men are often stereotyping black women. So I personally feel like now it's past slavery, but it's moving towards a different direction in someone's relationship life, Speaker 1: 04:21 People see and hear this. What do you hope they walk away with? I hope Speaker 2: 04:26 They walk away with a sense of feeling like they have to do something about this. Like they have to educate themselves on the topic. A lot of people don't know what colorism is and they often think it's just something that gets brushed off. And in reality, it affects a lot of people like myself who is biracial. It affects our everyday lives. We get passed up a lot on opportunities. We are often dismissed. We don't get treated the same. And that is a problem for a lot of people and not being treated the same or not having the same opportunities as one skin color obviously is a type of racism, which people don't assume that colorism is racism. But this is, as I mentioned, not the typical racism. Speaker 1: 05:11 Let's talk about that a little bit more. Do you feel that colorism is an issue that isn't often explored or interrogated in the way that it should? Speaker 2: 05:18 Definitely. I think colorism is passed up completely. When you think about racism, you think about someone who is saying that black people are less than a skin color, right. But you don't think about colorism as, oh, you're lighter skin. So it's just, you are darker skin. So I just don't prefer you. It's such a complicated topic when you think about it, but color is, um, for me it's different just because the way that I've grown up, I never knew where I belonged. I was either too whites to be a part of my black family, or it was too black to be a part of my Mexican and Hispanic culture. So not feeling where you belong is very confusing growing up. And I feel that that is also can lead towards identity crisis. Speaker 1: 06:15 I've been speaking with Savannah cadet Hanes and we've been discussing her article, not the typical racism as part of the union. Tribune's social justice reporting project. Savannah, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for having me on.