5 Reasons Why Skin Color Is Insignificant And Why Its A Mistake To Identify By It, Especially If That Skin Color Is Brown

Luke Manimala
3 min readMay 12, 2022

Would you identify by the color of your eyes?

Probably not. However, in this era of elevated attention to social inequity, it’s increasingly common for people to identify by the color of their skin, predominantly brown. While done with good intention, there are several reasons why identifying by skin color is not beneficial.

My goal is that after you read this, you’ll consider other, more productive ways to identify other than by your skin color.

Skin color has a weak correlation to cultural background

In modern contexts, identifying as brown is like identifying as “anything but White,” a step away from identifying as human.

If a Saudi Arabian and an indigenous Peruvian are both “brown,” does that word get us closer to understanding who they are or where we came from culturally or ethnically? The answer is no.

It’s a disservice to our unique ethnicities to lump all brown-colored people into a new mega “race.”

Skin color has a weak correlation to socio-economic success or treatment in society.

Many people feel that brown people get treated poorly in western society.

Still, if we use skin color to measure how society treats us, we will quickly realize this is ludicrously simplistic. Asians, many of which are “Brown,” are now among the highest earners in the US. Similarly, when comparing socio-economic outcomes of Black immigrants versus Black Americans, we see considerable inequity that favors immigrants.

It’s clear that far more than just skin color impacts how society treats people; we should not use skin color alone to assume a disadvantage in life.

A world where everyone identifies by skin color is the antithesis of Dr. King’s dream.

Dr. King had a renowned dream.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

His goal was brother and sisterhood, where all would see each other as kin, regardless of their skin color.

Solidarity with your skin color does not create a more equitable future for the survivors of generational inequity.

Identifying with people of brown skin does not get us any closer to solving the complex issues of generational, systemic inequity.

Instead, we’re simply creating another form of division where there otherwise would have been none. And unless you’re making actionable progress in supporting the lives of people that are victims of systemic inequity, this moves the needle in the net towards more division.

Another instance of us vs. them or me vs. you.

The more power we put in skin color, the more we allow it to impact our assumptions of people.

Racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against people based on their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group.

If we treat others differently based on ethnicity or skin color, is this any different from a watered-down version of racism? Is it worth talking about “White privilege” or “White guilt” without also talking about “Brown privilege” or “Brown guilt”? All of the above concepts, however ridiculous they may sound, are means of judging people based on the color of their skin.

Fighting prejudice with prejudice is fighting fire with fire.

I hope to use more inclusive language when we talk about ourselves and others around us.

And in doing so, we will move the needle away from the divisiveness that we aim to expell from society.

Read this post and more on my Typeshare Social Blog



Luke Manimala

Chicago-based product designer. I am working to find the story and value in every product through thoughtful execution and innovative design.