BASA Holds Discussion Panel on Colorism

– Reeka Edwards (Defiance, OH)

This past week, Defiance College’s Black Action Student Association (BASA) had a very intense discussion on the sensitive topic of “colorism.”

Denique Dennis, BASA’s program coordinator, was the facilitator of the night. The event had solid attendance, with high student engagement regarding their opinions and personal experiences on the topic.

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The discussion panel for the night’s program consisted of the students, staff, and faculty listed below.

Dr. Kristen Sorensen- Psychology

Dr. Jeremy Taylor – History

Professor Isabell Rhenwrick – Sports Management

George Roth – Accounting Student

Nisa Clay – Masters of Ed. Student

The event started with each audience member giving their definition of colorism and how they apply to their daily lives. Afterwards, topics surrounding colorism were further discussed and debated. To set the tempo of the evening, the program coordinator also had a general definition on colorism which was displayed in the background as, “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone.”

To begin, participant Da’Ja’Nay Askew contributed that, “discrimination of shades colors in the black community.” Dr. Jeremy Taylor then added to her definition saying that, “I will explain it beyond the black community, because white people often get laughed at because they are too pale. Hispanic or Latin Americas also have that issue. Basically, there is a caste system based on skin colors and it all depends on the context.”

The discussion was then set off with the causation of colorism and how it applies to our daily social lives. Two main conversation points are bulleted below-

  • Socialization – This can simply be put as people (especially children) through interaction. Therefore, if they are a part of a society that is racist and love to discriminate against others, chances are that person will start to reciprocate that behavior.
  • Colonialism and Slavery – Through the times of colonialism, many “blacks” were undermined. Blacks were also taken from Africa to work as slaves to make the monarchies and the whites, what was known at the time as “the superior race.” The blacks were used as slaves; giving their unwilling labor for the benefits of the colonists. It was through this time that racism began to permeate throughout the United States. Groups of people passed on the racist tendencies and state of mind to others, continuing the cycle of prejudice that is still in effect today.

With every action that has occurred, an impact or effect must follow. For the topic of colorism, the audience and panel found common ground on the following-

  • Low Self-Esteem/Self-Hatred – This can be seen through the labelling theory, a theory that states if someone was being discriminated against their skin color they begin to feel as if they deserve the discrimination. People who experience this may feel uninspired to excel and may eventually lead to low self-esteem and hatred.

The issue of people not feeling like institutions are giving them an option to choose their ethnicity or they are classifying them as a certain set of groups which does not reflect their true ethnicity.

Junior Marissa Bramble illustrated this sentiment by stating, “I hate when I have to fill out an application that has ‘White or black.’ I am none of those options. I am a biracial child. I believe there should be a line where I can state my ethnicity. I do not think my ethnicity should be marginalized to just “other.” Personally, I find that to be disrespectful.”

In conclusion, the BASA Panel Discussion was viewed as intense and eye opening for those in attendance. Panel members concluded that colorism is a rising issue that is often misunderstood when not discussed openly.

If you are interested in joining Defiance College’s Black Action Student Association, email Ceresa Page at for more information on meeting times and event schedules.

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