Activities & Organizations News

Lecture on colorism opens conversation on discrimination

Colorism is defined as the discrimination against other people based off of skin tone, especially in the same ethnic or racial group. | Andrea Fernandez Velazquez/The Cougar

Students gathered Wednesday at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Student Center South to discuss how different skin tones affect perceptions of attractiveness, relationships, identity and acceptance within society and their lives. 

“I have always been looked at differently,” said computer engineering freshman Ibrahim Alhebeba. “My skin color has always affected my life, in education, how I have been treated by my family and how people treat me or look at me.”

During the presentation, students addressed questions about colorism, including how colorism affects society, how it looks across different cultures and how colorism can be prevented. 

Alhebeba, who is from Saudi Arabia, said to describe a black person in Arabic, the word slave is used, and to describe a light skin person, the word yogurt is used.

“I think colorism has had a huge impact on my life and how I view blackness,” said marketing sophomore Kadidja Kone. “I am not going to lie and say that I did not grow up with some resemblance towards people who had lighter skin because my whole life I have been told that to be pretty you have to have lighter skin and that was an issue for me.”

Through this event, representatives for the Center of Diversity and Inclusion hoped to increase inclusion and acceptance. 

“I feel this is an issue that has not been defined by Webster Dictionary yet,” said psychology and interpersonal communication senior Ciara Valdery, a Center Diversity and Inclusion ambassador. “It is still a part of many cultures that still needs to be talked about and addressed in order for us to move forward and find other ways to define each other rather than just separate each other completely.” 

For many, this was an opportunity to learn through the experiences of others.

“Everybody had their own ideas, which I found fascinating,” said economics senior Marisa Thein.  “They are all helping create awareness.”

At the end of the event, attendees shared what they considered definitive in their lives. 

“Male or woman, or other identities, everyone is beautiful,” Valdery said. “Light skin, dark skin, everyone is beautiful and everyone can define themselves in more than one way. You can define yourself by your skin tone, by your careers, your education and what you do in your community and how you empower yourself.” 

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