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Preference or Colorism? When Your Preference Becomes An Issue

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hampton U chapter.

With the issue of colorism being brought back to light in recent years, it is important to understand what colorism is in order to make sure you are not mistaking colorism for your preference. The dictionary defines colorism and preference as:

Colorism is defined as discriminating one based on skin color. It is classified as a form of prejudice or discrimination in which people are treated differently based on the social meanings attached to their skin color.

To prefer is to set or hold before or above other persons or things in estimation; like better, choose rather then.

Even though preference and colorism seem very similar, there is a slight and major difference between the two. A preference, for example, is liking a certain skin tone. There is nothing wrong with having a preference. Most people have them included in their list — the list of everything they look for in a significant other. Some people’s list may go something like: tall/short, dark/light skin, nice little build, intelligent, etc. If you identify yourself as someone who has a list, don’t feel ashamed. Having a list only shows that you know what you want, and you’re not here to waste time on someone who doesn’t fit the requirements. In this article, however, we are focusing more on skin tones and colorism.

The issue of colorism comes about when you begin to discriminate against skin tones other than your preferences. Say there is someone who prefers light skins. Preferring light skins is perfectly okay. Colorism is when you start to limit yourself solely on dating/liking lighter skinned people, and losing the thought of dating or liking someone other than light skins. This also goes for those girls who are all about their chocolate men. They want their man dark skin, chocolate, and so on. BUT they would not be caught talking to anyone lighter than that. Most people don’t consider the fact that they could possibly be discriminating against other skin tones besides their preference. You probably haven’t either. Have you ever caught yourself saying one of these:

“I could never date a light skin. Most of them are pretty boys or act like they’re too good for anybody.”

“I couldn’t see myself dating anyone who is not light skin.”

“Brown Skin and Dark Skins guys are demons. All they do is lie and cheat.”

“Light Skins are not cute at all.”

Or simply making one of these faces if someone says, “Isn’t that boy over there cute?”

If you have, this is colorism. It is not really your fault that you are one, because you didn’t know this was considered being a colorist. 

You can simply un-classify as one by changing your perspective. If you prefer a certain skin tone over others, don’t single out the others just because they are not your preference. Skin tone is a natural born attribute that has nothing to do with the type of person they are. Your soulmate might be of another skin tone but have all the characteristics and attributes you need. It is okay to like someone of another tone. It will not hurt you as much as you may think.  Also, don’t degrade all other skin tones because of past experiences, stereotypes or just because of their skin. Be open and kind to all. You never know, those dark skins you can only see yourself dating might not be the ones for you, and your past relationships have shown so.

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Ania Cotton

Hampton U '18

Ania is a charismatic, outgoing, fun loving individual with aspirations of owning her own public relations firm. Her favorite shows are Spongebob, Regular Show, and Bob's Burgers, and she loves to eat. Ania graduated from Hampton University in May 2018 with her Bachelors of Arts in Strategic Communications with a minor in Spanish. Ania loves to talk and give advice to her friends and family; the motto that she lives by is to always be a blessing to others because you never know who may need it. To learn more about her, visit her website at www.anianicole.com.