18th Century Mexican CASTA Paintings and the Birth of Colourism

Sunday 5 November

An illustration of pigmentocracy via Spanish colonial art of the 18th century with context for the 21st century.


Casta Paintings and the Birth of Colourism is a presentation of 18th century paintings from colonial Spanish South America, showing the variety of racial and social hierarchies. They influenced the British as they brought social order to Caribbean society and the Americans they too wanted that same racial order. These paintings make real the origin of today’s colourism, seen in the many pigmentocracies found throughout the region.

Colourism is very real…

Marcus Garvey on visiting National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) offices challenged them saying he was “unable to tell whether he was in a white office or that of the NAACP”. The late cultural historian professor Stuart Hall talks about the negative impact of his darker complexion when compared to his siblings had on him and his place in his family.

Ideas that made Big Bill Broonzy in 1930s sing in his song Black, Brown and White about getting a job :

if you was white, should be all right

If you was brown, stick around

But as you’s black, m-mm brother, git back git back git back

Colourism is with us today. This talk looks at its origins.

This is an online Zoom event pleas check your junk mail for confirmations

About the speaker: Michael I. Ohajuru FRSA

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (2022), Senior Fellow of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (2017), Honours degrees in Physics (1974) and Art History (2008). Blogs, writes and speaks regularly on the Black presence in Renaissance Europe. He has spoken at the Metropolitan, New York and in London at the National Gallery, Tate Britain, British Library, National Archives and the Victoria Albert Museum.

Founder of Image of the Black in London Galleries a series of gallery tours , the Project Director and Chief Evangelist of The John Blanke Project: an Art and Archive project celebrating John Blanke the Black trumpeter to courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII, now in National Portrait Gallery and The National Archive, co-convener of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies What’s Happening in Black British History series of workshops and founder member of the Black Presence in British Portraiturenetwork. https://about.me/michaelohajuru/

More Online Events Listings MORE

Online Events Thursday 18 July

Black Women’s Healing Circle

Welcome to the Black Women’s Healing Circle! Join us for a virtual gathering where we celebrate and uplift each…

Online Events Wednesday 24 July

An African History of Africa

Africa’s history has long been dominated by western narratives of slavery and colonialism, or simply ignored.   Join…