Psychology from the Margins


Black students with darker complexions experience a disproportionate application of exclusionary practices within educational settings (Crutchfield et al., 2022). This review seeks to highlight colorism’s impact on the Black community in the education system through examining the historical context of colorism, the connection between colorism and racism, and how colorism is manifested and perpetuated in contemporary society in the United States. “Antiblackness” is an enduring trait of the United States that has rooted and fixed itself to its school structures (Coles & Powell, 2019). Schools are inherently political in that they adhere to and perpetuate the dominant ideologies of society (Picower & Mayorga, 2015), essentially functioning as a microcosm of society. Colorism functions as an extension of antiblackness in its perpetuation of prejudice and discriminatory behavior against darker skinned individuals and those with more African phenotypes. Black students are mandated by state-driven compulsory education laws to attend school but may receive differential treatment on the basis of skin tone, facial feature, and hair texture variations with the ethnic group. Exclusionary practices restrict students’ access to the school environment and may lead to a diminished academic identity, a sense of invisibility, feelings of invalidation, and limited access to future opportunities. In this review, the need for interventions addressing colorism in educational settings will be discussed. Recommendations for future directions of colorism research are also discussed.



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