The undertones of racism: MSU professor proposes a nuanced perspective on race that he hopes will unify the world

March 21, 2023 - Brandon Drain

Dr. Ronald E. HallOne of the most prominent, empirically-based forms of evidence on racism can be linked to the oppression of dark-skinned races, according to Dr. Ronald E. Hall, professor at Michigan State University. This association of complexion and oppression, defined as colorism, has been dubbed a taboo subject of research in academia – which has led to, “A literature void that exceeds the context of traditional local race categories to permeate global borders,” Hall said.

Hall intends on bringing this issue of colorism to light, as he embarks on releasing his new book in August of 2023 titled, “Routledge International Handbook on Colorism: Bigotry Beyond Borders.”

“Because this is a taboo subject, no one wants to speak about it,” Hall said. “This is a product of colonization. We’ve internalized those Eurocentric norms, and we’ve assessed ourselves on the basis of how close we are to being white.”

This idea of relative whiteness is the basis of Hall’s ideology and area of research, as he suggests that colorism has played a major role in the way Black people operate within society.

“We are the group that has to learn how to step outside of our cultural norms,” Hall said. “Because this is a Eurocentric culture, one must have the skills to navigate it. Euro-Americans don’t have that necessity because their native culture is the standard.”

Hall’s ideology and research suggests that the matter of colorism goes beyond the duality of Black and white but permeates the entire globe.

“Subsequent to melanin content in human skin is the evolution of a status hierarchy that has spread globally,” Hall said. “Its manifestation among select groups is nuanced to each particular population. However, all but absent from exception, dark skin equates with inferiority and/or less status. Light skin equates with superiority and/or utmost status.”

Hall believes that the elimination of race from the equation – which he suggests is confined by subjective interpretation – is the answer to creating unity. By looking at the issue from an objective, quantifiable set of parameters, like the content of melanin in one’s skin, we can get to the root of discrimination and oppression.

“I want to diminish this whole racial construct,” Hall said. “Complexion is objective and cuts across all racial lines. The only purpose that race serves is to divide. When people allude to the issue of race, they are allowing themselves to be amenable to discrimination and exploitation.  With the removal of race from discourse, it creates the perfect opportunity for the world to unify.”

Having a full understanding of how his claims and area of research are perceived – not only in the world of academia, but in the eyes of the public domain – Hall continues to push forth his studies and research.

“There were people that struggled to ensure I have the opportunities that they didn’t have – and some paid with ultimate sacrifice,” Hall said, alluding to the Black heroes of the past. “So, if I have to take some hits, that’s okay, that’s par for the course.”

Hall is set to host a two-day virtual conference on colorism from August 17 through August 18. It’s slated to be the largest meeting of faculty, scholars, practitioners, students, representatives from businesses and industry, organizations, community members, and others interested in colorism across various disciplines and specializations.