Latocia Keyes

ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Eusebius Small


Colorism is a complex phenomenon which was birthed by racism and uses the observable human characteristic of skin color as a metric for worth in society. Colorism as practiced since its inception demonstrates intolerance for African features and promotes acceptance based on the approximate physiological similarity to a European standard. This social construct has served as a divisive wedge in the Black community. The issue is further complicated by the dynamics of interpersonal beliefs and group socialization in a variety of settings. Skin bleaching, tanning, and chemical hair straighteners all have the potential risk to impact physical health that causes cancer and even death. The purpose of this qualitative dissertation was to understand the psychosocial and physical health impacts on African Americans related to discrimination based on skin color. An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis was utilized to collect data from six men and six women in a southern state that range from age 18-30. The essence of this phenomenon generated six themes: 1). Perceptions of Colorism as “Being Black” in a Predominately White Society, 2). Perceptions of Colorism as a Disenfranchised Racial Group, 3). Perceptions of Colorism as Unidentified Trauma, 4). Perceptions of Colorism Between People and Family, 5). Perceptions of Colorism Origin, and 6). Resilience Despite Colorism. The themes denote the participants’ lived experiences with colorist people. It provides insight into racial socialization influencing intra-racial and inter-racial colorism impacts on physical health, mental, and social stratums. This study provides a contribution to the discipline of social work, it informs practice, policy, and provides direction for future research.


African Americans, Colorism, Discrimination, Psychosocial, Physical health, Racial socialization


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons