Learning about Whiteness and Colourism

Something interesting I have learned in the past year are the subjects of whiteness and colourism; specifically how these words have helped me expand my vocabulary and articulate my feelings around race.

The subject that has captured my mind the most has been whiteness, because it is the ways in which people of colour (like myself) have been told how some of the things white people do, then becomes the standard of greatness.

Like how I made sure I spoke English in this overly enunciated manner so that when white/coloured people regularly told me, “You speak so well”, I felt so proud; even when I was saying nothing of importance. This is interesting because no one usually says that of white people.

Like how I ended up wanting to go to one high school because it was seen as the classier school where the white kids went, instead of a closer school that most of the coloured and black kids went.

Like how I would expect my parents (then eventually a single parent mother) to provide me with the things that some of my white friends had, when what I had was already the luxury that they could provide.

Like how growing up on Ricoffy, turned out to be fake coffee because my lower middle class family could never afford filter coffee, and only in high school did I learn that there was this thing called filter coffee.

Like how the media kept pushing this notion of “white beauty” on me to such a degree that it has subconsciously shaped my first instinctive preferences in guys, and beyond that they way my imagination often visualises fictitious characters.

I would stop reading a book when it repeatedly pointed out how “half-Asian” or “dark skinned” a character was, as those character traits would disrupt this image of a white character in my head.

I have had to become aware of all these things and in some cases needed to unlearn these habits, while in other cases I’ve needed to make peace with how I was socialized throughout life.

Racebent Hermione Granger

Colourism is another part of this, as it is something which relates to racism and classism on those within your own racial class. An example being the snide/derogatory comments made about people from a poorer social group when you have exactly the same skin tone.

The only interaction with this I had was when I would judge people of colour for how they would speak English; never mind the fact that English would be their second or third language. As if their manner of speaking English would be a judgement on their intellect.

I haven’t dealt with colourism as much, but learning about this issue, and becoming aware of whiteness (specifically mine) has been a very enlightening part of this year.

The process of learning about these things have been extremely difficult and uncomfortable for myself but by learning more about this, I had found that it has made me more open to learning about the people around me instead of judging them first.

I know that I am still learning, but I am proud of myself for what I have become aware of thus far.


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