The Latin American Student Organization (LASO) hosted their first General Body Meeting of the Spring Semester last Thursday Feb.6 which focused on answering the questions of “What is colorism?” And “What is the difference between colorism and racism?”
Students at the event discussed how both colorism and racism may sound the same but are completely different terms. What makes colorism different than racism is that it is a “form of prejudice and/or discrimination usually from members of the same race in which people are treated differently based on the social implications from cultural meanings attached to skin color,” as shared in the PowerPoint presentation. Racism is similar but not in terms of the same race. What was also mentioned in the presentation was that colorism emphasizes the idea of “Someone with a lighter complexion is considered to be more beautiful or valuable than someone with dark skin.”
Many students present at the event shared their thoughts on colorism and their experiences on facing the issue. Students also watched a video from the presentation “Colorism in the Latinx Community! Feat. Lee Chin” from MTV’s “Decoded.” The video explained colorism in full detail citing an example of prejudice in Brazil when beauty queen Nayara Justino was stripped off her title because she was deemed too ‘black’.
Many students believe that colorism should be discussed at St. John’s. “It’s an important dialogue that needs to happen because colorism and this type of issue gets swept under the rug in the Latinx community. It’s an issue that needs to be discussed and pushed forward,” senior Daniel Perez said. “Colorism goes beyond the Latinx community and affects the entire community as a whole.”
St. John’s LASO President, junior Shaeleigh Severino said, “This event is extremely important to have especially in the Latino community because it’s a topic not talked and not discussed, it’s painful for certain people. There’s an enormous amount of Afro-Latinidad community in every single country and they’re being denied their attention, their ability to announce they’re Latino.” “And when we have these student organizations come together and make these conversations happen then it’s so much better for everyone involved and everyone who doesn’t know. The bottom of it is for some people not knowing and this is a college campus, the whole point is to experience new ideas, hear different perspectives and all these things.”