Abstract: The Development of the Recognition of the Impact of Colorism on Children Scale (RICS) (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

The Development of the Recognition of the Impact of Colorism on Children Scale (RICS)

Friday, January 13, 2023
Camelback B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Marva Lewis, PhD, Associate Professor, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Lauren Terzis, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Larissa Parrott, DSW, Adjunct Faculty, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Hajr Muhammad, Student, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Background: There is little research that examines the psychological impact on young children of skin tone and hair type discrimination. The passage of the Natural Hair Act (CROWN ACT, 2022) recognizes the impact of natural hairstyle discrimination in the workplace. The worldwide practice of colorism is defined as discrimination by people of the same ethnic or racial group against individuals with a dark skin tone. Unrecognized beliefs of colorism may lead to the acceptance or rejection of young children by parents and early childhood educators. Findings from research on colorism relate to a broad range of cognitive, social, and emotion-related outcomes for children. These include racial and gender disparities in daycare, expulsions, and school suspensions; anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems; and substance use. The impact of colorism has not been studied within a conceptual framework of parent-child attachment. The purpose of this study was to establish the psychometric properties of a newly developed, theoretically grounded scale, the Recognition of the Impact of Colorism on Children Scale© (RICS).

Methods: The RICS data was collected as part of a larger Colorism Study, an anonymous online survey of a multicultural sample of (N = 434) adults aged 18 years and older. This study examined individual differences in self-ratings of skin tone and hair type and a variety of psychosocial outcomes. The Visual Inventory for Skin Tone Assessment (“color bar”) is composed of 10 skin tones ranging from light tan to dark brown. The self-rating of hair types used a 9-point rating scale ranging from straight to very curly. The other standardized measures included colorism, racial coping, and skin tone satisfaction. The parents in the sample also completed the Parental Acceptance or Rejection of Children Questionnaire (PARQ) measure. The new RICS scale investigates a parent’s recognition of the socioemotional impact messages of colorism has on children’s wellbeing. Participants were asked to rate how much they agree or disagree with 15 statements regarding the impact of colorism on children (strongly disagree, disagree, undecided/unsure, agree, and strongly agree). Jamovi, an open-source data software program, was used to conduct the analysis.

Results: The items from the RICS scale were originally composed of three factors; impact of messages of colorism on children, hierarchy of skin tones, and skin tone satisfaction. An Exploratory Factor Analysis identified only two distinct factors (impact and satisfaction). The satisfaction factor consisted of four items with acceptable reliability (α=0.66). The impact factor consisted of six items with acceptable reliability (α=0.57). The five items that did not load onto either factor were excluded.

Conclusion: The unconditional acceptance of children by parents is a foundational factor in children’s healthy development. These findings suggest the RICS scale is a reliable quantitative measure of adults’ recognition of the impact of colorism on children. The newy developed scale provides insight for social work practitioners on the impact colorism has on children and adults. Future research includes conducting a Confirmatory Factor Analysis with a sample of parents representing a broader range of demographic factors and parental stressors.