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Tyla Gross

Document Type

Restricted CORE Hall of Fame Paper

Publication Date



[Abstract] As defined by the National Conference for Community and Justice, or the NCCJ, colorism is “a practice of discrimination by which those with lighter skin are treated more favorably than those with darker skin” (NCCJ). From the viewpoint of a person of color, colorism may be seen as what defines an individual within a particular race. To further explore the concept of colorism I have decided to examine what the ideology and practice of colorism breeds, primarily discrimination. I will examine where colorism takes place and the contributions that it makes to society and to singular identities. Though colorism can and does affect every aspect of life on a global scale, I will only focus on how colorism shapes the lives of African Americans and consider its impacts inside of the United States. I will stay within socioeconomic and political domains to analyze how colorism plays a part in the discrimination, hardship, and racialized lifestyle that a person of color may and often does experience. To answer how colorism and discrimination are interlinked I use a sociological abstracts database to research and find scholarly, peer-reviewed articles. After thorough analysis, I discover that colorism is heavily incorporated into the criminal justice system, the workforce, within education, and in one’s identity. I find that the implication of colorism is widespread and contributes to a vicious cycle of oppression. Colorism is a repeating pattern of discrimination that takes form in generating a new racial caste system and a hierarchy of skin color, tone, and features.