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Publisher: Journals Gateway
Daedalus (2021) 150 (2): 76–90.
Published: 04 January 2021
AbstractView article PDF
For many decades now, social scientists have documented immense ethnoracial inequalities in the United States. Much of this work is rooted in comparing the life chances, trajectories, and outcomes of African Americans to White Americans. From health to wealth and nearly every measure of well-being, success, and thriving one can find, White Americans remain ahead of Black Americans. What this focus on ethnoracial inequality between “groups” obscures, however, is long-standing skin tone inequality within groups. In this essay, I trace the trajectory of colorism and skin tone stratification in the United States over the past century. Next, I high-light the contemporary persistence of skin tone stratification, not only among African Americans, but among Latinx and Asian Americans as well. I conclude by arguing that future research on colorism will be essential to understand comprehensively the significance of race/ethnicity in a demographically shifting United States (such as immigration and “multiraciality”).