Monday, November 21, 2005

Lookism

This morning, as I was in a bus headed to work, I happened to be thinking about my theory of "lookism", which I think more accurately identifies the prejudice and bigotry in today's society that is commonly referred to as "racism". I came upon that concept a long time ago, while I was writing and arguing my point for an English research paper in college. During my research of the topic, I learned that there were only a few other social psychologists who had identified a similar concept, but called it "Colorism" and applied specifically to intra-racial behavior in regards to skin color. They talked about things like "chicano" skin and "mulatto" skin color, etc. etc. So this morning, as I was thinking about all of that, and I realized that I should change the name of my concept from "lookism" to "colorism" BUT differentiate my conceptual referrents from those being referred to by these other researchers. Infact, what I really want to do is SHIFT the very concept of "colorism" itself from what they have been typically using it by showing that they are missing a crucial aspect of the concept -- and to place it upon the referrents that I believe are actually the important aspects of this behavior. The behavior I am referring to is the act of prejudice (either deliberate, learned, or subconscious) based on the physical/physiological looks of an individual. I argue that the traditionally and stereotypically considered white/caucasian features (this includes, skin color, hair color, eye color, nose, lips, etc. etc.) are positively assessed and either consciously or subconsciously desired by members of all ethnic/cultural groups (including other caucasians). Moreover, I argue that since Race is a biologically invalid concept, it has to be a social construct, and as such is the result of a long history of unquestioned acceptance that people belong to "races" that are biologically predetermined. In my paper, I also referred to European imperialism and the European hijacking of Christianity as the cause for the spread of a subconscious stratified classification of races -- with Whites being at the top and everyone else falling below them in relation to how physiologically distant they seemed from the "ideal" white. Now, we all know that race, being a social construct, lacks any scientific rigor in accurate classification of peoples according to racial categories. There is a plethora of cases out there where a person seems to look like belonging to a certain race, and has infact believed it all his life, only to one day have a DNA sample taken from him that proved he had more "other racial" genes in him than the one he believed to have. A person could have the traditionally accepted caucasian features but not be socially classified as caucasian (because maybe the person is from India, for example). Or, take Innommable as an example. Many (including myself) had thought at first sight that innommable was Asian atleast in some respects -- until I got to know him and found out that he's just a strange anomaly from Guatemala (hahaha! ;-P) The point is this: you can socially classify yourself into any race whatsoever. The act of prejudice does not come from the fact that you have categorized yourself as black, say... or latino, but actually from HOW MUCH YOU INFACT LOOK like you are Black or Latino! In other words, a man who classifies himself as "Black" for all purposes but actually LOOKS more Caucasian (lighter skin, long narrow nose-bridge, thinner lips, etc.) will most likely (and there is empirical evidence for this) not face the same quality or quantity of prejudicial actions against him as another black man who does infact does possess traditionally considered physiological features of a "black" individual. Since my realization of prejudice is based on truly biological and physiological criteria than a socially constructed racial basis (since we know race is not biological), I had decided to call my concept "Lookism". However, I realized today on the bus that "lookism" seems to also imply any sort of discrimination based on good-looking people versus average or ugly-looking people as also a sort of prejudice. And that is something I don't wish to imply or promote. I believe beauty and good-looks are something that infact should be valued, praised, and preferred over the not-so-beautiful or the ugly. (note, I am not bringing in other contextual issues like intelligence, wealth, personality, etc. into this discussion. I am merely isolating one concept for analysis here). And the argument that 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder' notwithstanding, the "beholder" like to choose and value that which is beautiful. Beauty can be thought of, in Rand's words, as a harmony of elements creating an entity or an idea. Thus, a poem could be beautiful as could a person. So, I am not saying that it is wrong to choose the pretty one over the ugly one! This matter of superficial beauty is regardless of one's racial classification. In other words, one could be beautiful or ugly regardless of what race that person is. Hence, we must discard this variable of beautfy as a variable of no difference. In the creation of concepts, one must discard the details of insignificant measurements and only focus on the ones that describe uniqueness and difference (this is according to Rand's formulation of measurements in concept creation). So, I thought, lookism seems the imply that beauty is also a variable that matters in the concept of prejudice. Hence, inorder to dispel that implication, I thought it best to switch the name of my concept from lookism to colorism -- EVEN THOUGH, my concept as I described it, goes well beyond merely the issues of skin color. Note how people these days tend to want to dye their hair blond, get blue-colored or light-colored contact lenses, get plastic surgery for a narrower-longer nose... etc... those are all traditionally accepted Caucasian features that members of other "races" like Asians and hispanics also desire. Clearly, this blogpost does not do any or full justice to my concept of prejudice. It originally belonged to a 10-page research paper... but I think, a decent sized book might be necessary. Ofcourse, I could never be able to bring myself to write a book on anything! So there.

4 Comments:

Blogger Semperviva said...

the spanish comment thing is

"so hard on my tongue" jerry!!!!!!!! haha, note the sarcasm there... but i think this article is interesting btw :D

11/22/2005 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Ergo Sum said...

I get the "so hard on my tongue" part... but I don't get what it is referring to... what spanish comment?? elaborate por favor!

11/22/2005 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger innommable said...

A strange anomaly from Guatemala? Love it!

11/22/2005 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Ergo Sum said...

Oh DUH! THAT spanish comment thing... I SEE NOW! I get it! Sorry... I have a momentary brain fart... I had to wait till the stench subsided! ;)

Oh. okay. now. I see. Publicar en comentario en entrada. por favor.

11/22/2005 05:45:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home