The color conundrum

Students discuss colorism

Photo by: Abbey Good | Multimedia Editor
Ferris elementary education junior Ellyse Ghoston speaks up during a conversation about colorism.

A student-run event focused on educating others about a subcategory of racism that deals with prejudices found within one’s own racial group. 

The Office of Multicultural Student Services held a conversation on race, Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in the University Center. The conversation focused on colorism, which is defined by the English Oxford Living Dictionary as, “prejudice against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.” 

“Colorism happens where there’s jokes that are thrown around, even within your own friend groups, and it may not seem like anything but if you grew up fighting to love yourself, those jokes do hit hard just a little bit. And even if you shake it off and don’t cry about it, it still resonates a little bit in there,” Ferris criminal justice sophomore Lexie Thomas said. 

The conversation, facilitated by Ferris biology senior Sharell Williams, included a panel with student representatives from the Black Student Union, the Hispanic Student Organization and the Office of Housing and Residence Life Harmony Project. Videos about colorism were played, and students discussed their thoughts on the video, as well as how colorism has impacted them personally. 

“With colorism, my family, one side is a lighter side and my dad’s side is a darker side, and I always feel like there’s ‘Team Light Skin’ and ‘Team Dark Skin,’” Thomas said. 

Williams said she hopes the discussion will help raise awareness to end colorism. 

“I just want to make people more aware. That’s a part of the problem, people don’t even know. A lot of people that were in the conversation, they were saying, like ‘Oh, I didn’t even know this. I didn’t even know it was that bad,’” Williams said. 

Ferris pre-law and political science senior Jeffrey Carodine Jr. said it is important to talk about the different subcategories of racism. 

“People never truly understand that racism has many, many, many pots that always boil over. So the fact that we have conversations on race, and then each conversation on race is different within that subtopic, is very key and is very important so people can then understand and adapt to what they’re going through,” Carodine said. 

Williams believes education is important in ending colorism. 

“Educate yourself, honestly. I feel like, if people would just look on the internet, you’ll find a lot of stuff. Now, about 50 percent of it isn’t true but it gives you some type of perspective of what’s going on. You gotta know what’s going on. It’s not always right there in your face,” Williams said. 

OMSS is holding another conversation on race at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, in the University Center.

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