Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Brown, Laurel


Colorism has created a significant divide within the African American community. There is a structured hierarchy where based on the color of one’s skin tone, an individual can be viewed as a higher or lower class.This qualitative study’s purpose was to examine what the factors of colorism among African American Women and how this has affected their lives. A total of ten African American women of various skin tones volunteered to participate in a 30-45-minute face to face interview. Findings of this interview show that many of the woman have encountered stereotypes based on their skin tone. Many themes became apparent from the responses questions which were asked. Participants who have refer to themselves as “dark skinned” state that they are aware in society “light or brown skinned” women are more favored. Women who consider themselves “light skinned” have noticed the impact of colorism when their dark-skinned friends are constantly overlooked within the social setting. 6 of the 10 women interviewed feel as though men are the cause of the greater divide between light and dark-skinned women. Each participant interviewed acknowledged the social structure which accepts dark skin woman as being held to a lower standard or “at the bottom of the totem pole”. It is the hopes of this researcher that based on this study, Social Service professionals will gain a better understanding of their African American female clients as well as a development of interventions that can reduce the harmful effects of colorism.

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