November 24, 2009 § 3 Comments
i think a lot about colorism. but i dont write about it much. it is a tense topic among people of color. not that ive seen it cause a lot of arguments among poc. but a lot of silence. and a lot of diminishment of the power of colorism. its a bit silencing.
i have never been to a majority brown and black folk country, aka third world, in which there were not major social issues around colorism. especially for women. since women’s social power is so tied to their physical attractiveness.
i would love to have conversations about colorism/hueism among woc-light and dark. i would love to hear woc who are light say that light skin is a privilege. a complicated privilege, yes. but a privilege all the same. that has economic, social, and political consequences on an everyday level.
He and his colleagues took different photos of then-candidate Obama and digitally manipulated them to alter just the areas of exposed skin. “So we sort of isolated the head and the hands of Obama and altered the skin tone to make it relatively lighter in tone or relatively darker in tone,” Caruso says.
The research team then showed the altered photos, plus the unaltered ones, one at a time to undergraduate students and asked them to rate the photos in terms of how representative they thought each photo was of the candidate. They researchers also questioned the students about their political views.
Liberal participants were most likely to rate a lightened photo of Obama as being most representative of him, while conservatives were most likely to say that about a photo that had been darkened, according to their findings published in a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Perceived Lightness Tied To Votes
What’s more, the researchers found that the degree to which someone saw a lightened photo as being representative of Obama was related to whether he voted for him a week later.
That was true even after the researchers controlled for political views and measures of bias against blacks, says Caruso. “Assuming that people had equal levels of political conservativism,” he says, “the extent to which you rated the lightened photos as more representative was, over and above your ideology, also predictive of your voting intentions and your voting behavior.”
The researchers also showed students digitally lightened and darkened photos of John McCain but did not find that political affiliation affected people’s ratings of the photos.
because lets be honest. at a really basic level. like employment opportunities, housing accessibility, and other basic day to day issues. being a dark skinned woman is something i am not allowed to forget for too long. i cant diminish my own darkness. and the associations that people bring to my darkness.
Caruso also says he recently has been looking to see if skin tone can affect people’s level of support for a novel biracial candidate when people’s political affiliation with that candidate is ambiguous.
In one new study, his team used altered photos of a person described in the experiment as a candidate for a position with the Department of Education. People were shown either a darkened, lightened or unaltered photo of the fake candidate and then asked a few questions about their views on various issues facing the department.
All participants were told that the candidate agreed with them on half of the issues. But when asked if that candidate would get their support, says Caruso, “lo and behold, those who saw a photo with darkened skin accompanying the candidate’s biography just a few minutes earlier reported that they were less likely to vote for this candidate.”