Discrimination based on skin color

Discrimination based on skin color, also known as colorism or shadeism, is a form of prejudice 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.[1]

When people think of racism it's usually against people outside of their ethnicity. Colorism is discrimination against people because they have a darker complexion. The idea of racism and colorism are pretty similar. Someone with a lighter complexion is considered to be more beautiful or valuable than someone with dark skin.[2]

Research has found extensive evidence of discrimination based on skin color in criminal justice, business, the economy, housing, health care, media, and politics in the United States and Europe. Lighter skin tones are seen as preferable in many countries in Africa, Asia and South America.


Several meta-analyses find extensive evidence of ethnic and racial discrimination in hiring in the North American and European labor markets.[3][4][5] A 2016 meta-analysis of 738 correspondence tests in 43 separate studies conducted in OECD countries between 1990 and 2015 finds that there is extensive racial discrimination used within both the European and North American hiring process.[4] Equivalent minority candidates need to send around 50% more applications than majority candidates to be invited for an interview.[4] Recent research in the U.S. shows that socioeconomic and health inequality among African Americans along the color continuum is often similar or even larger in magnitude than what exists between whites and African Americans as a whole.[6][7]