Our world is becoming increasingly divisive; communicating with each other across cultures and even lifestyles has become progressively challenging. The ability to build trust and mutual rapport with people from various cultural backgrounds is imperative. How do we accomplish that when there is a continual undercurrent of color-based fear in our society bubbling beneath the surface?
The definition of colorism
Colorism is a form of racial discrimination based on the color and shade of a person’s skin tone, with the preference favoring lighter skin tones. The colorism contrast has resulted in a cross-cultural tension and divide that is impossible to ignore. We have embedded beliefs that have been passed down generationally, all based on the color of our skin. So much energy has been poured into this way of thinking that it is hard to even imagine that there is any other way.
What if we started from a different vantage point? With colorism baked into the very fibers of our cultural tapestries and tightly wrapped around our psyches, is there hope for another alternative? What if we could really understand where we are as a society through this monochromatic black and white perspective and then choose a different value system?
The color of our souls
What if we were to distinguish ourselves from one another, not by the color of our skin, but rather the color of our souls? Achieving that level of transformation would require us to shift our awareness to a higher consciousness, allowing us to see farther than skin deep. It starts with recognizing, acknowledging, and dissecting our sordid past that fuels our tumultuous present. If we can at the very least put all our cards on the table, maybe we can then step into a different dimensional perspective to explore new solutions. By examining what divides us, we can transform our divisions through spanning the spectrum between ‘black’ and ‘white’.
Both ‘black’ and ‘white’ are used throughout my book, What Color is Your Soul?, because they are familiar and most of us understand them. While it is inaccurate to many transcultural groups, it is often an accurate depiction of cultural mindsets where the opposition is seen through the lens of racism. They are umbrella terms that ultimately mask our rich and diverse ethnic and cultural heritage.
I suppose if you wanted to create one of the largest chasms and disconnections between two vast groups of people, it would be to call one group black and the other white while continuing to use the standard meanings and defining essences of both words. It is also interesting that black and white are the only colors whose validity is debated. If you were to strictly define them through the lens of physics, neither are technically colors because they do not have specific wavelengths even though they offer the most visual contrasts available to the naked eye.
The nature of color
Black has no hue and absorbs all light. It has long been associated with mystery, power, fear and evil. White includes all colors yet has no shade and has long been used to symbolize purity, goodness, and morality.
Assigning a label to any group – calling one side ‘black’ and the other ‘white’ carves more than just a metaphorical chasm. It divides the issue into ‘right’ vs. ‘wrong,’ disconnecting the members of the group by forcing them to one side or the other.
Labels that polarize and ignore the space between the two points discount the truth that black and white include and transcend all colors and hues.
“The human family shares a quality that too often prevents us from experiencing the connection we long for; the desire to feel and know we belong.”
Lynnclaire Dennis, author
Do you suspect that you have stuck emotional energy around racism and colorism and have a desire to heal, release and balance it? Join author, cultural agility strategist, and spiritual activist Niambi Jaha-Echols at the Art of Living Retreat Center for Woke Work: Healing the Illusion of Our Separateness from October 17–20, 2019. Uncover and release your personal stuck points, trauma, and emotional triggers while lovingly addressing them, and heal yourself all the way back to your roots.
This post is excerpted from What Color is Your Soul?: Healing the Illusion of Our Separateness, and is republished with permission from the author.