Abstract: I See Color: An Exploration of Self-Reflective Diversity Content in Social Work Curriculum (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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I See Color: An Exploration of Self-Reflective Diversity Content in Social Work Curriculum

Thursday, January 21, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Nicole Ransom, LCSW, Mental Health Counselor, Midwestern University, Glendale, AZ

Colorism is a covert method of racial oppression based upon skin color and phenotypic features, wherein those with European heritage and features, receive privileges. The hierarchical structure of colorism also provides social benefits to people of color with lighter skin tones. Additionally, colorism is an implicit bias which deeply affects African American’s. Colorism creates a complex system of privilege and oppression within the African American community which impacts economic, social, and psychological wellbeing. Nonetheless, colorism is not often discussed by social workers in clinical settings; this may be due to lack of awareness and uneasiness. Contemporary mindfulness scholars suggest approaching implicit biases with self-reflection and compassion as a way to navigate potential discomfort.

The purpose of this exploratory research is to examine the existing literature surrounding self-reflective diversity content in social work curriculum, as it pertains to colorism and African American women. This presentation will discuss the merits of further exploring the use of self-reflection to address colorism.


Using EBSCOhost databases the following search terms were used: colorism AND implicit bias or attitudes or perceptions AND African Americans or Black Americans or Blacks. Twenty articles were generated. After initial screening 19 met the criterion. One article was excluded for no mention of the African American population. Following Jaakkola’s (2020) recommendation for designing conceptual articles authors identified a domain theory and a method theory to assist in the synthesis of the data. The domain theory serves as a framework for exploration while, “the role of the method theory is to provide some new insight into the domain theory” (Jaakkola, 2020, p.3). For this article, Critical Race Theory (CRT), will serve as the domain theory and Dialectical Uniqueness Awareness Approach (DUAA) as the method theory.

Findings and Conclusion:

In progress. Results of the exploratory research will be shared with conference participants thus adding to the body of colorism knowledge in the social work community.