Title

Colorism: The Unspoken Preference to Skin Tone and Its Effect on African American Individuals in the 21st Century

Date of Degree

12-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program

Education

Advisor

Sharon Herbers

Advisor

Mary Alfred

Advisor

Absael Antelo

Advisor

Jessica C. Kimmel

Abstract

This qualitative study explored the perception of colorism among Black American individuals born between the years of 1952 and 1972 of the pre-Civil Rights Movement and post-Civil Rights Movement generations. Colorism has been defined as the privileging of light skin tone over dark skin tone. The stigma of colorism continues to produce discord, distrust, discrimination, and cultural disconnects between Black and White individuals as well as within the Black American family and community. The aim of the study was to explore the consciousness of colorism in the 21st century and its effect on Black Americans. Racial Identity Development was utilized as the conceptual framework for the study. Through narrative interviews, participants openly shared stories in relation to their life experiences and situations concerning colorism in regard to interracial and/or intraracial discrimination. The findings of the study identified (a) the journey that an African American individual may take in acknowledging and personally accepting a racial identifier, (b) the emotional residue that an individual may sustain due to the subjection of interracial discrimination, and (c) the impact of intraracial discrimination in childhood and/or adolescent years and on adult development. Findings suggest that the concept of colorism continues to be an experience of the Black American culture in America 21st century. Additionally, the findings suggest that adult educators must be knowledgeable of and sensitive to issues of racial identity development and that open and intelligent dialogue concerning interracial and intraracial issues needs to occur in order to dispel ethnic, racial, and societal separation and discord.

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