Colorism and How K-Pop Fits Into the Mix

A college campus is the perfect example of diversity and people of every creed coexisting. Although society is now more accepting of things that were once taboo, there still exists ideas that are marginalized.

Growing up in 2017, much of the world is globalized and we are able to share almost everything with each other no matter where we are from.

The media, which acts as a bridge, connects people to information, and plays a pinnacle role in how much diversity we see. In an attempt to be inclusive and cater to everyone of varying skin tones, we see more women of color gracing the covers of magazines.

With different skin tones comes colorism, which is defined as prejudice based on lightness and darkness of one’s skin in relation to people of the same race. Within the Black community, for example, colorism exists in moderation. In an interview with Co-Campus Correspondent, Nathalie Pena, the issue of people assuming her identity based on the color of her skin is something she knows firsthand as a Dominican woman.

It’s a little strange when people attempt to place an identity on you by guessing where you’re from based on your skin tone, Pena said.

A psychological approach on colorism is that although we’ve come so far as a community, colorism is a subjection of racial indoctrination. The media, has to a degree, promoted the idea that white is ideal, which has impacted how the rest of the world views people of color.

Jiyeon “Jenny” Baek, an international student from Seoul, South Korea, accounts her own culture that perpetuates the idea of the fairer you are the better. Anyone who has tan skin is often faced with rejection and are shunned or singled out in South Korea.

“When it comes to music, especially hip-hop, I could see that there are many famous artists and rappers who make many people around the world become fanatical because we see this lifestyle of wealth and it’s often associated with light or white skin and as a result, it’s mimicked,” Baek said.

South Korea has given the world k-pop, a genre of music that incorporates lively colors and upbeat choreography that infuses pop, hip-hop, R&B, and rock. It’s delivered to the public in the form of “concepts” or stories that are often controversial because of an aesthetic that borders racial (mostly black) epithet.

At first glance these music artists and groups dress like any normal college student, but if you look closer, much of their influence musically, stylistically or behavioral) comes from black culture. This brings up the conversation of whether or not this is appropriation or appreciation. More can be read here: Racism/Colorism/Cultural Appropriation in Kpop