Colorism: An Understanding of the Multiplicity of Voices Among Black Women and How Their Experiences Inform Their Postsecondary Lives
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In my M.Ed. program, I reflected on and applied a social and cultural lens to my experiences with colorism. Through this process of reflection and my review of anti-racist literature I began to question how the hegemonic discourses of race and racism reinforced a Black-White binary. These questions led me to explore Black women’s often intricate and complex experiences with colorism that are not always talked about. Using a qualitative narrative inquiry to this study, I explored six racialized Black female student’s experience with colorism to understand how colorism informed their lives on campus. By means of purposeful convenience sampling, I heard about their understanding of colorism, experiences as Black women, how colorism informed their experience in the academy, and explored the implications for postsecondary. The theoretical framework that guided my research was Critical Race Theory (CRT). A semi-structured one-on-one interview approach was used to prepare general questions to guide the discussion. The findings revealed that participants learned about colorism at an early age. Apart from skin tone, phenotypic features were attached to their experience with colorism. The findings also showed that some participants conflated colorism and racism and connected their understanding of or experiences with colorism with dominant ideology. Finally, the results also revealed ways in which the participants resisted the multiple issues that intersected and had implications in their daily lives. Some issues included the harmful stereotypes affixed to Black women and how the messages they received informed their choices and reinforced some of the negative images about Black women’s hair. I aimed to bring awareness to the intricacies of colorism and the ways in which the participants used their agency to push back and resist colorism.