01/15/2014 09:56 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Iyanla Vanzant: People Play Into Colorism Without Realizing It (VIDEO)

During a provocative episode of "Oprah's Lifeclass," Iyanla Vanzant joins Oprah to discuss colorism, the discrimination within races based on the lightness or darkness of one's skin. Though colorism exists within communities of color, Iyanla is quick to point out that it's an issue that people of all races should be aware of -- including Caucasians.

Oprah asks, "Why is this important for white people to understand, do you think? Or all people to understand?"

"Because is so ingrained... and it is so unconscious," Iyanla says. "Very often unwittingly, white people play right into it."

Those who unknowingly contribute to colorism may even do so on a regular basis. "Other communities -- let me not just say white -- other communities play into it by vibrating toward those who look and feel and sound more like them," Iyanla explains.

While Iyanla believes that this instinct can help foster colorism, she doesn't suggest casting aside similar-looking friends. Rather, the first step toward combating colorism is actually as simple as it is powerful.

"Acknowledge that it exists," Iyanla advises. "You've got to acknowledge that it exists."

"Oprah's Lifeclass" airs on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.



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