Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African-American Studies

First Advisor

Jonathan Gayles

Second Advisor

Sarita Davis

Third Advisor

JeffriAnne Wilder


This study expands literature on colorism and the monolithic emphasis on the experiences of women by investigating black men’s experience with skin tone discrimination. The investigator seeks to interrogate how black males experience colorism by exploring how familial, peer associations, and media shape black males’ understanding of their skin-tone; by asking; what messages, if any, enforcing colorism ideals they receive; as well as the frequency of and adherence to such messages. The investigator utilized focus groups to gather data. Sample was limited to 10 self-identifying African-American black men age 18 and older. Focus group data is analyzed through an intersectional perspective, and thematic coding is utilized for analysis. Findings suggest light skinned and dark skinned men experience colorism differently. Light skinned men noted blatant colorism and often felt they had to authenticate their blackness. Darker skinned men reported more indirect colorism and negative stereotypes as prominent challenges with colorism.