Skin Colour

Why is having paler skin or a proximity to whiteness seen as a privilege?
When we consider skin colour in this privilege project, we are talking about colourism. This is the intra- and inter-racial discrimination of an individual based on the colour of their skin. This is due to Eurocentrism, where people with more European features such as white skin, are often perceived as beautiful, successful and more trustworthy.

Why is having a certain skin colour seen as a privilege?

Having a light skin colour is seen as a privilege because those who have a closer proximity to whiteness are treated in higher regard than those with darker skin. This is a result of European colonialism. The societal structure we live in today grants unearned benefits to white people over brown and black people. This means that those that are white, and have a lighter skin complexion, are often perceived in a more positive light and are more widely represented in influential and powerful roles in society.

What is your privilege?

  • People of my skin colour are well represented in society such as in beauty, media and business
  • The colour of my skin does not make me fear for my life in situations where police are involved
  • Neither my family or close friends tell me that I need to avoid the sun because darkening my skin is seen negatively

The stats don’t lie

  • Black people with degrees earn 23.1% less on average than their white counterparts.
  • Stop-and-search rates between 2018 and 2019 show that black people are now nearly 10-times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people.
  • In the US, wages for a dark-skin African American was $11.72 compared to that of a light-skin African American at $14.72 and someone who is white, at $15.94.
  • A black woman in the US makes 63 cents to each dollar earned by a white man.
  • African Americans have an overall 36% chance of going to jail at some point in their lives. Dark-skinned African Americans have a near 66% chance.

What to do next?

Working towards creating a more equal society and workplace starts with recognising the ways in which we are privileged. The assumption is that the paler your complexion, the greater your power, affluence and opportunity in certain cultures. There are often inherent advantages possessed by a white person or by a person with a paler complexion. If you’re interested in starting a journey to overhaul this imbalance then join the Privilege Project today.

Watch the recorded session on Skin Colour privilege from our launch event.