Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I learned a new word!
"Colorism" (Oxford spelling: Colourism)

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Reaction to a Reply
Previous Post: White Privilege in the Philippines, Part III

In my rants concerning Filipino hangups about race, colour, ethnic lineage, white/westerner privilege, I have only been using 'Racism' as a catch-all term. Whether I use it in combination with other words to describe its variations - eg. Internalized Racism, to describe Filipinos' self-hating tendencies - I have always felt it was a bit too much in that it actually undermines my argument.

Don't get me wrong: Racism still exists. However, I am hard pressed to really categorize all the discrimination Filipinos practice - both against each other and towards people of other racial backgrounds - as true hardcore racism. I think that only an ignorant few of them really truly have a worldview where there are genetic superiors and inferiors. Therefore, I do believe it can be successfully argued that the Filipino 'Racism' I have described here, here and here, have more to do with preferences for certain skin tones and its association with class, than an actual practice of systemic discrimination based on a genetic/ethnic basis.

Indeed, Pinoys who discriminate in this manner use it as a way to excuse such behaviour. "Oh, it has nothing to do with race, since we're all Filipinos naman."


To which, I have replied:
"Yes, Filipinos do run the gamut from very black to very white. Yes, it's Filipino vs. Filipino. But to say nothing of the tremendous cultural preference for white skin, Eurasian ancestry, or even a lineage which could be traced to the lighter skinned Asians (Japanese, Chinese, Korean), is quite ignorant. Methinks the Pinoys who defend [this form of racism] are in the lighter end of the Philippine spectrum and are in some kind of privilege denial.

Either that, or they're fantasizing they are the mixture of something else and that this must afford them some privilege"
Yet even though I have called out that Filipino cultural tendency to privilege white skin over dark, and mixed mestiza/mestizo features over a native indio's, I am still unsatisfied with the word 'Racism' to describe this behaviour. Although it all comes out the same in practice - in that certain people possessing certain features are privileged over others, all while those who don't are discriminated against and made fun of - I still feel that there must be a better way to describe this Filipino vs. Filipino kind of discrimination.

And then this reply from a certain J. De La Torre came a week or so ago.

Post: White Privilege in the Philippines - When it is Worse to be Filipino in your own Motherland
You might have to scroll down for the comments, since the link doesn't seem to fully work.

In it, she mentions the word "Colorism" and whether I have explored the topic.

I must confess, I have not really explored the topic before! It is in fact a new term to me, although it does seem as though I have been describing it all along - that all this time, it was the word that I have been looking for!

Google then led me to this article, 5 Truths About Colorism That I've Learned As A Black Woman in NYC

In it was is this very interesting excerpt:
"For most of us, colorism IS racism. The notion that one skin tone is superior to another connects us directly with the racism that has existed in America and around the world for centuries based on color. In America, we are still battling institutional racism between different races, and it’s hard for some to grasp the notion that the same bigotry exists within our own races, because if you’ve been denied something because of the color of your skin, why then, would you do that to people of your own race?"
 Yes!  Why indeed? It makes no sense, but I suppose discrimination never made any sense.

Thank you Kristin C. Jackson, the author of that article, and thank you J. De La Torre for bringing up the topic of Colorism in the first place! Yay!

I guess it's true what they say: You learn something new everyday.

Future Post: Erik Matti's On The Job (2013)

Further Reading/Watching: 5 Truths About Colorism That I've Learned As A Black Woman in NYC
                                                How Colorism Affects People Around the World

Related Posts: White Privilege in the Philippines
                             White Privilege in the Philippines II
                             White Privilege in the Philippines III

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Blogger Justice Fest said...

The Marda Loop Justice Film Festival has a Free Film Night coming up May 12, in Calgary screening HUE: A Matter of Colour which I think you might find interesting. http://www.justicefilmfestival.ca

11:18 AM  

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