Colorstruck: Skin Color Stratification in the Lives of African American Women

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John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


This paper examines the stratification among African American women by skin color on indices such as education, income, and spousal status. How racial and colonial ideologies situate whiteness and blackness as symbolic representations in relation to one another and the subsequent systems of discrimination that develop from those ideologies is the crux of the theoretical argument in this paper. Infusing the concept of constructed notions of beauty into this racial paradigm further elaborates this process for African American women. I hypothesized that light-skinned women would have higher educational attainment, higher personal incomes, and would be more likely to marry high-status husbands than would darker-skinned women. Even when controlling for background variables, all three of the hypotheses are confirmed and the significance of skin color, particularly the privileging of lightness, is demonstrated.