What is Colorism?

by Brennen Daniels, photo editor


On Thursday, April 19th, Embrace launched its second annual event. Theology of Remembrance was a mixed media art experience that combined both live performance and gallery style writing and art.

Artists, photographers, and poets from Moody and throughout Chicago displayed their work in Joe’s to a standing-room-only audience. The event focused on issues related to race in the church, our country, and around the world.

Theology of Remembrance tackled the issue of colorism, a form of bigotry that is rarely talked about. Poets illustrated and testified to how they had been hurt by individuals of their own ethnicity for being too dark or too light. Artists displayed how Western beauty standards have left them feeling ugly in their darkened skin. People shared personal stories of wounds from colorism, wounds often inflicted by their own families.

The night peaked with a showing of senior communications major Loren Joseph’s capstone short documentary, “Colorism.” The opening montage of the film features advertisements from around the world for products that will help make skin lighter. The goal is that audience members would begin to realize that colorism is very prevalent.

“[Colorism] needs to be talked about more,” Joseph said. “It is so broad, and people really haven’t delved into the topic that much.”

Junior human services major and photographer D Phillips showcased an eye-catching project she has been working on for the last month, “A Celebration of Women of Color, With Color.” The photo series features a variety of darker skinned women from Moody painted and set in front of brightly colored backgrounds.

“When we first went out to shoot, it was grey and dull and I was just not inspired,” Phillips said. “And then I remembered this idea I had over summer to put darker women in front of really bright colors, but now I had this reason to do it.”

She explained that each of the colors represents a certain part of what she thinks is beautiful about women of color, but ultimately the bright colors are meant to portray a mood of celebration at the beauty of the woman.

Theology of Remembrance was the brainchild of senior human services major ReNay McKelvy. As both a writer and musician, McKelvy was drawn to use the arts to speak into racial issues she has both seen and experienced.

“I love all art… it speaks to me so much, and something I’ve noticed is that it speaks to people in such a unique way,” She said. “Art is hardly ever aggressive, so in presenting a topic that is hard to understand or stomach, using poetic words and art makes it easier to accept because we all crave beauty.”

Although somber in its tone at some points, the event was one of celebration. In between the artists, the packed house was able to mingle, reflect, and enjoy the beauty that surrounded them.

“Seeing people’s responses has been humbling,” McKelvy said. “200 people know what colorism is, 200 people have been presented with the gospel, and also 200 people have sat for two hours and questioned, ‘why do we see things this way, and is it right?’”

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