Abstract: Beyond Racism: Colorism As Post-Modern Transgression (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Beyond Racism: Colorism As Post-Modern Transgression

Thursday, January 21, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Ronald Hall, PhD, Professor, Michigan State University, MI

The imposition of Western somatic ideals i.e.: light skin via colorism upon the social environment is universal and includes impact upon African-Americans and/or women of color. Only when populations are oppressed in the wake of power differentials will groups idealize somatic norms alien to their own as prelude to the Bleaching Syndrome. The Bleaching Syndrome includes the utilization of bleaching creams despite potential health risks. In an attempt to perform a qualitative analysis of the aforementioned the author convened two groups of women to discuss their ideas about beauty. A qualitative, thematic summation of the findings suggests a bias ideal for light skin. Ultimately, women of color must aspire to more conducive, somatic norms to escape the pathological influences of the Bleaching Syndrome.


In order to perform a qualitative analysis the author organized two groups of women of color to discuss their ideas about beauty as it pertains to light skin and the Bleaching Syndrome. The first group began at 1PM and terminated at 2:30 PM. The second group began at 3PM and terminated at 4:30PM. The duration of both sessions was 1.5 hours. Members of both groups ranged in age from 18 to 24 years. They were single, full-time college students. After IRB approval, they signed permission forms and were assured by the author that their confidentiality would be protected to the fullest extent of the law.Focus group verbiage was processed using a qualitative method by the author.

Findings and Conclusion:

The modern perception of discrimination is dominated by racial criteria. Among Post-Modern Puerto Ricans, such domination obscures discrimination on the basis of skin color. After questioning students in Puerto Rico, via descriptive methods, it was determined that dark skin is perceived as less than ideal among the population tested. This color bias i.e.: colorism is not accessible under the guise of race. As a relevant aspect of the entire Western/U.S. cultural milieu, social work must expand its cultural competence to encompass Post-Modern concepts of discrimination that encompass colorism. The aftermath will enable a more comprehensive understanding of discrimination in the new millennium.