Background/Question/Methods Colourism as defined by Dr. Sarah Webb is the social marginalization and systemic oppression of people with darker skin tones and the privileging of people with lighter skin tones. As a result, dark-skinned people who hold multiple marginalized identities with regards to race, class and gender are affected adversely by colourism. Over the last two years, the conversation on colourism and its impacts have come into conversation within the mainstream environmental justice movement. However, we need to understand Colorism as more than just an individualized superficial understanding of beauty.
Colorism needs to be understood as a violent system that maintains and reinforces anti-Blackness and systemic oppression. Colourism is also a system that seeks to exclude, extract the work of and disproportionately harm dark-skinned girls and women. Affecting their interactions with their environment(s). A global literature review was conducted to examine the current perceptions and understandings of colourism. As well as investigate why colourism should be addressed as an environmental (in)justice issue. Including the barriers, it presents dark-skinned girls’ and women’s participation in the outdoors and their various environment(s). The review was conducted within academic and grey literature. Prioritizing the documented accounts of the lived experiences of dark-skinned girls and women.
Results/Conclusions Environment(s) was understood within the Environmental Justice definition of the environment. Therefore environment(s) have been understood as “the complex interaction between physical, geographical, biological, social, cultural, and political conditions that surround an individual or organism and that ultimately determines its form and nature of survival” (Generation Green, 2021).
While there is very limited academic literature on colorism and the erasure of dark-skinned girls and women in environmental justice, there has been a greater understanding of how colourism as a form of systemic oppression disproportionally harms dark-skinned people through negative health outcomes as a result of the spatial locations, policing and toxic beauty products specifically marketed to reinforce colorism (including texturism and featurism). As many scholars point “to the success of the global skin-lightening industry as evidence for the global preference for white/light skin, and colorism” ( Zota & Shamasunder, 2017). I conclude by emphasizing the importance of understanding colourism beyond the surface level individual conceptions of beauty but as systemic environmental injustice that ensures dark-skinned girls and women experience poorer health, economic, education and housing outcomes.