Light Skinned Black And Hispanic Look Smarter To White People
As long ago as 2005, an ABC News report on colorism called it “an open secret in the black community.” Two more recent documentaries about the issue, 2011’s Dark Girls, and its 2015 offshoot, Light Girls, present it primarily as a source of pain inflicted both on and by African-Americans.
Via Vox reports:
Skin color discrimination by white people isn’t a new concept. As Hannon writes in the paper, “The history of white colorism runs as deep as the history of white racism in U.S. society. For African Americans, the skin color hierarchy is firmly rooted in the slavery regime, where white owners gave certain work privileges to slaves with more Eurocentric features.”
And in fact, colorism in various areas of American life has been studied before. In his write up of the new research, Pacific Standard’s Tom Jacobs summed up the findings of previous studies on the topic, with conclusions including:
lighter-skinned black men with bachelor’s degrees have a distinct advantage in job application processes over black men who have MBAs;
lighter skinned black women in North Carolina received lighter prison sentences than their darker peers;
African-Americans with more education are remembered as being lighter than they actually are.
But Hannon’s new research is the first to focus on how colorism determines white people’s perceptions of the intelligence of people of color. He analyzed data from the 2012 American National Election Study, which is a face-to-face survey on social and political values and opinion.
Interviewers are required to describe each subject’s skin tone on a 10-point scale, and also rate intelligence on a five-point scale from “very low” to “very high.”
The research drives home the point that colorism is not just a form of prejudice people of color impose on each other. Also, it’s a reminder that that while it’s certainly a relevant part of conversations where it most often arises — about things like worldwide demand for skin bleaching cream, debates about dating preferences, and more diverse representation of black women in Hollywood — the harm it causes extends far beyond these realms.
A belief among some white people that darker-skinned black and Hispanic people aren’t smart could have (and is likely already having) society-wide impacts that perpetuate inequality. “If white adults have a tendency to equate lighter skin with intelligence,” Hannon concluded, “this may impact the quality and level of expectations white teachers and other school authorities have for certain students.”
What do you think of the latest findings? Read the full research HERE.