Colorism involves distinctions based on skin color (light, medium and dark) and results in the favorable or disparate treatment of individuals based on the lightness or darkness of their skin color. Colorism occurs interracially and intraracially and is detrimental to the psychological well-being of victims.
Interracial colorism involves a member of one racial group making a distinction based on the skin color of members belonging to a different racial group (White vs. Black). This form of colorism results in preferential, prejudicial or disparate treatment of victims.
Intraracial colorism involves a member of one racial group making a distinction based on the skin color of members belonging to the same racial group (Black vs. Black). This form of colorism is more complex than interracial colorism and also results in preferential, prejudicial or disparate treatment of victims. Historically people of color have been victims of interracial and intraracial colorism.
Intraracial colorism has played a significant role in the plethora of ills that exist among people of color. In 2013, intraracial colorism is still an issue that continues to separate and divide people of color. Despite the plethora of insidious discriminatory acts inflicted upon people of color, acts of discrimination occurring among members belonging to the same racial group are just as insidious.
In 1903, W.E. B. DuBois wrote “for the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line”. “The problem of the twenty-first century is still the problem of the color line” (Culbreth, 2006).