"a social or governmental hierarchy based on skin tone regardless of race," 1952, usually in a South African context, apparently coined in "The Economist," from pigment + -cracy "rule or government by."
late 14c., "a red dye," from Latin pigmentum "coloring matter, pigment, paint," figuratively "ornament," from stem of pingere "to color, paint" (see paint (v.)). By 1610s in the broader sense "any substance that is or can be used by painters to impart color" (technically a dry substance that can be powdered and mixed with a liquid medium).
Variants of this word could have been known in Old English and Middle English (compare 12c. pyhmentum, laterpiment) with a sense of "a spiced drink, a remedy or concoction containing spices," based on a secondary sense of the Latin word in Medieval Latin. As a verb from 1900. Related: Pigmented. Also pigmental"of or pertaining to pigment" (1836); pigmentary (1835).
word-forming element forming nouns meaning "rule or government by," from French -cratie or directly from Medieval Latin -cratia, from Greek -kratia "power, might; rule, sway; power over; a power, authority," from kratos "strength," from PIE *kre-tes- "power, strength," suffixed form of root *kar- "hard." The connective -o- has come to be viewed as part of it. Productive in English from c. 1800.
<a href="https://www.etymonline.com/word/pigmentocracy">Etymology of pigmentocracy by etymonline</a>
Harper, D. (n.d.). Etymology of pigmentocracy. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved $(datetime), from https://www.etymonline.com/word/pigmentocracy