What is Colorism?

Colorism is prejudiced attitudes or prejudiced treatment of people based on the relative lightness or darkness of their skin in comparison to others of the same race.

Although this phenomenon is called colorism, it’s also frequently based on other features such as hair, eyes, nose, lips, and other phenotypic characteristics.

There are two sides to colorism. It may occur as unjustly negative or unjustly positive reactions to groups of people based on their skin color and other racialized features.

People affected by colorism may also develop a dislike, or even hatred, for their own skin and features.

One of the most common myths about colorism is that it’s a problem for dark skinned people. The reality is that colorism affects all of us, regardless of race or skin tone.

The History of Colorism

Colorism is a global phenomenon with a complex history and roots that extend far into the past. A common explanation in many societies is that European colonialism and the international slave trade spread the idea of white supremacy. But there’s more to the history of colorism around the world than just that.

Because this site is solely dedicated to colorism, we have the time and space to really explore that history: Click here to read more about the history of colorism.

Favorite Videos

Four Women by Nina Simone

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

Click here to view more videos.

The Colorism Database

The Colorism Database is an ongoing compilation of works past and present that explore the issue of colorism around the globe. The database is currently organized in a table format with over 150 entries. You can search by keyword or sort by author, date, title, country, or type of project. Many of the items in the database include links to the original source.

The database helps to serve our mission by offering the public easy and comprehensive access to the global work being done around the issue of colorism. Click here to browse the database now.


The blog is really the brains of this operation. It’s where you’ll get weekly updates on colorism in the news, inspiration and tips for dealing with colorism day-to-day, and deeper insight into the history and politics of colorism. Join the conversation by sharing the posts you like and leaving your thoughts in the comments. Click here to visit the blog.

Or Try These:

Colorism Vs. Racism: What’s the Difference?

Colorism in Hip Hop: Keeping it Real

8 Tips for Dealing with Colorism in Families

3 Simple Ways to Deal with Colorism on Television

Favorite Products

Click here for more products.


Colorism Healing is designed to provide a nexus of information, resources, discussion, and empowerment for those in the global community who seek healing and solutions to colorism.

The focus of this site is to provide you with practical, everyday tools and strategies for healing yourself, helping other women and girls to heal, and nurturing future generations to appreciate all skin tones.

We envision this site itself as a safe place where people come for healing, where those who once felt alone in their struggle can connect with others who are creating beautiful lives despite their experiences with colorism.


Our methods include publishing positive and uplifting content in many forms.

Blog posts provide insight into the history, dynamics, causes, and possible solutions of colorism, and offer commentary on contemporary events.

Products provide access to books, movies, art, toys, fashion, and other items that educate or affirm.

Imagery in the form of photography, videos, paintings, sculpture, and more offer powerful affirmations of the beauty and worth of dark skin.

The Database allows you to continue your exploration of colorism around the world beyond this particular site. (Though we do hope you come back to visit!)

Discussions that take place in the comments, or that we’ve curated from other sources, allow for self-expression, mutual support, and greater understanding.

Favorite Affirmations

Sometime I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company. It’s beyond me.

—Zora Neale Hurston

Real beauty isn’t about symmetry or weight or makeup; it’s about looking life right in the face and seeing all its magnificence reflected in your own.

—Valerie Monroe

Step away from the mean girls … and say bye-bye to feeling bad about your looks.

Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others.

This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says you’re too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.

—Oprah Winfrey

Click here for more quotes.

Colorism Poetry Contest (US Edition)

From April 1-30, 2014, we’re accepting original poems about colorism. Through this contest, we hope to give voice to those who’ve struggled with colorism in silence, believing they had no outlet for expressing themselves. We also hope to raise awareness about this issue on a national level.

Click here to find out how you can submit your poem.