Journal of Colorism Studies



Call for Submissions

In Living Color: Exploring the Complexities of Colorism in the 21st-Century

Special Issue

Journal of Colorism Studies (JOCS)


Guest Editors:  Dr. Amir Gilmore, Washington State University

                        Dr. Vikki Carpenter, Heritage University


The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line, the question as to how far differences of race-which show themselves chiefly in the color of the skin and the texture of the hair-will hereafter be made the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing to utmost ability the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization.
—W.E.B. Du Bois (1900)

Are there multiple forms or species of racism or simply variations of a fundamental structure?
—Jared Sexton (2012)

I have only one solution: to rise above this absurd drama that others have staged around me
—Fanon (1952)

Wherever you are reading this from, you probably heard this ad nauseam: “We do not see race.” With remarkable ease, this well-intentioned phrase is invoked by media pundits, politicians, and citizenry worldwide as a justified public defense against accusations of racism but also as a political tool for refashioning grand narratives about the declining significance of race and racism. These incredulous claims of nonracialism and post-racialism illuminate the significant social phenomenon and philosophy of color-evasiveness. This race-neutral ideology purports race and racism are nonfactors in shaping people’s life chances (Bonilla-Silva, 2006). Seemingly the social construction of race and racism would disappear if people stopped seeing it. This vapid sentiment is disingenuous because color-coded ethnoracial inequalities shade almost every facet of social life in the United States (and globally) due to the pernicious manifestations of the color line (Du Bois, 1900).

While formal racial classifications and the overarching racial caste system were constructed during the Age of Enlightenment, the valorization of white skin, straight blonde hair, and Eurocentric physical features are rooted in antiquity (Ware, 2013). As such, the denigration of dark-complexioned people–a byproduct of this valorization–is a ubiquitous pathology exported through the European colonization of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, permeating the colonized psyche. Delineating between white/nonwhite and Black/nonBlack, the racial calculus (Hartman, 2008) of the color line stratifies people’s life chances, trajectories, and outcomes, based on their approximate possession of light or dark skin (Monk, 2021). Even as societies stride toward mixed-race futures (Sexton, 2008), the permanence of racial hierarchies will endure in the 21st century because skin tone will continue to serve as a proxy to race. In this racial order of things, color and colorism will employ the same hierarchy governing racism (Ware, 2013) because colorism is the sine qua non to racism.

Race matters (West, 1991), but so does skin color. Colorism is a hidden gatekeeper augmenting life outcomes across many significant social domains, such as education, criminal justice, immigration, healthcare, employment, banking, and marriage (Monk, 2021; Ware, 2013). While scholars have long recognized skin complexion as a determinant of social conditions (Du Bois, 1899, 1903; Frazier, 1957; Johnson, 1934; Davis, Gardner, & Gardner, 1941; Myrdal, 1944; Fanon, 1952; Banks, 2000; Hall, 2008, 2010), it was Alice Walker (1983) who first coined colorism and conceptualized the social construct as the “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color” (p. 3). Several scholars have further conceptualized colorism through various terms such as being color struck (Brown, 1965), the color complex (Russell, Wilson, & Hall, 1992), skin color discrimination (Hall, 2010; Hochschild, 2006; Rondilla & Spickard, 2007), color consciousness (Monroe, 2016), color stratification (Keith & Monroe, 2016), and skin color bias (Hunter, 2016). As a vestige of colonialism, colorism is as injurious as racism (Ware, 2013). While race and color are related conceptually and interchangeably used in history (e.g., colored people, color barrier), they are not synonymous. Colorism is focused on actual skin tone rather than racial or ethnic identity (Hunter, 2007). In this formulation, skin color substitutes race as a social marker for enthoracial categories (Monk, 2021). Light and dark skin serves as a proxy for a superior or inferior race, preserving similar social pathologies and racial quality-of-life outcomes (Hall, 2018). Therefore, as Jones (2009) denoted, “while racism may affect an individual regardless of the person’s color, two individuals belonging to the same ethnoracial category may face differential treatment due to their varying skin tones” (p. 223).

As a hegemonic mainstay within the Black/White racial dichotomy, colorism has deep societal underpinnings in the United States, dating back to chattel slavery (Monk, 2021), as skin color (and kinship) determined an enslaved person’s work assignment (Ware, 2013). Those with darker skin worked in the farm or fields, while those with lighter skin worked in the enslaver’s house because they had direct kinship ties to the enslaver through sexual violence (Monk, 2021). In the afterlife of slavery (Hartman, 2008), color stratification ended no more than racism did, as intra-group colorism and white supremacist political-juridical structures determined the social and occupational status of light- and dark-complexioned Black people (Jones, 2009). This foreclosure on social mobility resulted in intergenerational dis/advantages (Monk, 2021) and negative cognitive biases (Maddox, 2004). Though colorism was rendered a Black-White issue, skin tone stratification is not exclusive to Black people in the United States (Rondilla & Spickard, 2007; Hunter, 2007) because it is a global phenomenon (Hall, 2018). Despite verbal assertions of people not seeing race, there is no shortage of examples showcasing the geographic reach of skin tone stratification, as cases exist in India (Melwani, 2007), Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan (Li, Min, & Beck, 2008); Mexico (Hernandez, 2001), Brazil (Nascimento, 2007), and the Dominican Republic (Roth, 2008). The idealization of light skin as the zenith of humanity highlights that color discrimination is a cultural and political fact worldwide (Hall, 2018).

Despite the evidence of colorism permeating all facets of social life, the attempts to characterize this multifaceted and complex social phenomenon has fallen secondary to social science research due to the primacy and gravity of race. The academic shading of color obscures the analysis of how skin color is relevant to ethnoracial life chances and outcomes. Coupled with the colorism’s media (in)visibility and lack of political recognition, this foreclosure is quite concerning (Monk, 2021). What is to be done about this absurd drama that surrounds us? It is imperative that we theorize in living color to address these enduring and pernicious attitudes surrounding skin tone to mitigate and improve ethnoracial inequalities. As guest editors of this special journal issue in The Journal of Colorism Studies, we invite you to illuminate the continuously unfolding and multifaceted manifestations of skin tone stratification in the U.S. and worldwide. Moreover, we invite you to explicate how skin tone discrimination is situated, operationalized, and machinated by structures of anti-blackness, setter colonization, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, xenophobia, ableism, and classism.

While this special issue may not provide formative solutions, we are interested in perspectives and analysis that will allow us to “rise above” (even temporarily) the absurd drama of colorism. Towards that end, we want to be quite intentional about who this special issue is for and/or about with our three declarations. Our first declaration is that this special issue seeks perspectives on colorism and skin tone stratification within and beyond the mainstream hegemony of the Black/White racial dichotomy. To suspend the damage (Tuck, 2009), our second declaration is that our project is centered on dissonance as a corrective mode of truth-telling (Lozenski, 2016) to illuminate the persistent and multifaceted colonial ideologies that situate color prejudice and color evasion. The third and final declaration is that this political project is not aiming to seek if the U.S. and the global world participate in structural color discrimination but is centered on the how and why motivations of structural color discrimination.

The Guest Editors welcome and encourage submissions from emerging faculty of color, as well as graduate students whose work primarily lies at the intersections of colorism and/or: Black Studies, Indigenous Studies, Ethnic Studies, Cultural Studies, Queer Studies, Critical Race Theory, Feminist Thought, and Popular Culture.

Specific subtopics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Skin tone as a post-colonial racialized hierarchy and the policing of ethnoracial boundaries
  • ‘‘Blanqueamiento’’ and the globalization of skin whitening (the Bleach Syndrome) as ideology and practice
  • Blood quantum, racial purity, and one-drop rules
  • The psychodynamics of colonialism, color, and desire
  • Skin tone, law, and immigration
  • The complexity of identity within biracial and multiracial people
  • Miscegenation laws, interracial relationships, and the endowment of skin tone
  • Critical Skin Theory (see Hall, 2018)
  • Colorism, sexuality, and gender expression
  • Color Struck, Racial Passings, and “honorary white people”
  • Colorism within popular culture, sports, and social media
  • Colorism, employment, and labor
  • Colorism and criminal justice
  • Skin tone and self-hate racial pathology
  • Race-shifting, Blackfishing, and Pretendians in education and society
  • Anti-Blackness and people-of-colorblindness (see Sexton, 2010) in the tri-racial order (see Bonilla Silva, 2006)


Proposals should be a word document containing the following: (a) tentative manuscript title, (b) author(s)’ names, affiliation(s), and email(s), and (c) a proposal (~500 words) of the planned contribution that includes: a summary of the critical issues regarding skin color stratification or questions the paper will address and its relevance to the special issue. Note: Authors who do not submit a brief proposal by the February 17, 2023 deadline may still submit a full manuscript by the May 26, 2023 deadline (however, we cannot guarantee full consideration of these submissions). Please email your proposal to Amir Gilmore ( and Vikki Carpenter (


Manuscripts should generally be 4,000-7000 words (all inclusive) in length, 12-point Times New Roman, double-spaced, APA-style, with 1-inch margins. Manuscripts should be written for an audience that has a vested interest in colorism studies and cares about the mattering, survivance, and life outcomes of those marginalized by skin tone stratification. The Guest Editors and the editorial team will preliminarily review manuscripts submitted to this special issue. Those deemed suitable for journal publication will be sent anonymously to external peer reviewers.


For audio works, please include:
File type: MP3
All contributing authors
Transcript of the audio

Tentative Manuscript/Podcast Timeline:

Proposal Submission Deadline: February 10, 2023
Special Editor’s Response: February 17, 2023
Submission Deadline for Full Manuscripts/Podcasts and transcripts: May 26, 2023
First decisions regarding submitted manuscripts/podcasts: June 30, 2023
Revised manuscript/podcast submission deadline: August 4, 2023
Publication: Mid August/Early September 2023

If you have any queries or questions about submission, please email the guest editors: Drs. Amir Gilmore ( and Vikki Carpenter (

Thank you again for your interest, and we look forward to receiving your proposal!



Banks, T. L. (2000). Colorism: A Darker Shade of Pale. UCLA Law Review, 47(1743), 1705–1746.

Bonilla-Silva, E. (2006). Racism without racists color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States. Rowman & Littlefield.

Brown C. (1965). Manchild in the promised land. Touchstone.

Davis, A., Gardner, B. B., & Gardner, M. R. (1941). Deep south: A social anthropological study of caste and class. University of Chicago Press.

Du Bois, W.E.B. (1899). The Philadelphia Negro: A social study. University of Pennsylvania

Du Bois, W.E.B. (1900). Address to the First Pan-African Congress.

Du Bois, W.E.B. (1903). The Souls of Black Folk. A. C. McClurg and Co.

Fanon, F. (1952). Black Skin, White Masks. Grove Press.

Frazier, E. F. (1957). Black Bourgeoisie: The Book That Brought the Shock of Self-Revelation to Middle-Class Blacks in America. Free Press.

Hall, R. E. (Ed.). (2008). Racism in the 21st Century: An empirical analysis of Skin Color. Springer.

Hall, R. E. (2010). Historical analysis of skin color discrimination in America: Victimism among victim group populations. Springer.

Hall, R. E. (2018). The Globalization of Light Skin Colorism: From Critical Race to Critical Skin Theory. American Behavioral Scientist, 62(14), 2133–2145.

Hartman, S. V. (2008). Lose your mother: A journey along the Atlantic slave route. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Hernandez, T. K. (2001). Multiracial Matrix: The Role of Race Ideology in the Enforcement of Antidiscrimination Laws, a United States-Latin America Comparison. Cornell Law Review, 87, 1093–1176.

Hochschild J. L. (2006). When do people not protest unfairness? The case of skin color discrimination. Social Research, 73, 473-498.

Hunter, M. (2007). The persistent problem of colorism: Skin tone, status, and inequality. Sociology Compass, 1(1), 237–254.

Hunter M. (2016). Colorism in the classroom: How skin tone stratifies African American and Latina/o students. Theory Into Practice, 55(1), 54-61.

Johnson, C. S. (1934). Shadow of the plantation. University of Chicago Press.

Jones, T. (2009). The Case for Legal Recognition of Colorism Claims, Shades of Difference: Why Skin Color Matters. Stanford University Press.

Keith V. M., Monroe C. R. (2016). Histories of colorism and implications for education. Theory Into Practice, 55(1), 4-10.

Li, E.P.H., Min, H.J., & Belk, R.W.(2008) Skin Lightening and Beauty in Four Asian Cultures. Advances in Consumer Research, 35, 444-449.

Lozenski, B. D. (2016). The desirability of discomfort: Riding the truth of dissonance in teaching and research. Critical Questions in Education, 7(3), 268–286.

Maddox, K. B. (2004). Perspectives on Racial Phenotypicality Bias. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8(4), 383–401.

Melwani, L. (2007, August 18). The White Complex. Little India. Retrieved from

Monk, E. P. (2021). The unceasing significance of colorism: Skin tone stratification in the United States. Daedalus, 150(2), 76–90.

Monroe C. R. (2016). Race and color: Revisiting perspectives in Black education. Theory Into Practice, 55(1), 46-53.

Myrdal, G. (1944). An American dilemma: The negro problem and modern democracy. Harper & Brothers.

Nascimento, E. L. (2007). The Sorcery of Color: Identity, Race, and Gender in Brazil. Temple University Press.

Rondilla, J. L., & Spickard, P. (2007). Is lighter better?: Skin-tone discrimination among Asian Americans. Rowman & Littlefield.

Roth, W.D. (2008). “There Is No Racism Here”: Understanding Latinos’ Perceptions of Color Discrimination Through Sending-Receiving Society Comparison. In: Hall, R.E. (eds) Racism in the 21st Century. Springer.

Russell K., Wilson M., Hall R. (1992). The color complex: The politics of skin color among African Americans. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Sexton, J. (2008). Amalgamation schemes antiblackness and the critique of multiracialism. University of Minnesota Press.

Sexton, J. (2010). People-of-color-blindness. Social Text, 28(2), 31–56.

Sexton, J. (2012). Ante-Anti-Blackness: Afterthoughts. Lateral, 1.

Tuck, E. (2009). Suspending damage: A letter to communities. Harvard Educational Review, 79(3), 409-428.

Walker, A. (1983). In search of our mothers’ gardens: Womanist Prose. Harvest/Harcourt.

Ware, L. (2013). “Color Struck”: Intragroup and Cross-racial Color Discrimination. Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal, 13(1), 75-110.

West, C. (1993). Race Matters. Beacon Press.


Download the Call for Submissions:  In Living Color_ Exploring the Complexities of Colorism



Call for Submissions

“We, The Excluded People: How Racism in America Defers Dreams and Diminishes Hopes – Momentarily”  

                        Extended Submission Deadline:  December 31, 2022

The Journal of Colorism Studies (JOCS) is holding open submissions for essays to be featured in an upcoming anthology titled “We, the Excluded People: How Racism in America Defers Dreams and Diminishes Hopes – Momentarily” edited by Dr. Donnamaria Culbreth, Dr. Darien Senn-Carter and Dr. Reynaldo Evangelista.

We are interested in well-crafted submissions that focus on how racism in America affects Black Americans.  It is through these submissions that we hope to further enlighten society of the detrimental effects of racism on the psychological, emotional, physical, and social well-being and growth of Black Americans in the millennium. Essays should also recommend strategies to address racism in America.

Selected topics are noted below

Submission Guidelines

  • Submit a letter of interest identifying the selected essay category from the attached Essay Categories List.
  • No work may be more than 3500 words. Please watch your word count. Submissions over the word count will be disqualified for this
  • The work must not have appeared in print or online.
  • All submissions must be written in English, include a cover letter containing word count and writing
  • Each author may submit up to two (2) unique
  • Essays must be submitted electronically in Microsoft Word format, Times New Roman 12 point font and double

Author Bios

Submissions should include author biographies not to exceed one paragraph and may include links to personal websites.

Submission Deadline

December 31, 2022 (by midnight)with a targeted publication date of June 2023.


Submit documents to:

On behalf of the Journal of Colorism Studies, thank you for your support and submissions.

Continued Success!

Drs. Culbreth, Senn-Carter and Evangelista


Twitter: @ColorismJournal

Facebook:  JOCS

Essay Categories

 Topics include but are not limited to the following:

Black Women

  • Negative stereotypes
  • Employment
  • Leadership
  • Hair
  • Body image
  • Standards of beauty
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Respect

Black Men

  • Disparate treatment
  • Incarceration
  • Racial profiling
  • Negative stereotypes
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Police brutality
  • Families
  • Opportunities


  • Gang violence
  • Shootings
  • Gentrification
  • Neighborhoods
  • Segregation
  • Non-profits and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Conflict
  • Drugs (crack vs. opioids)
  • Healthy communities
  • Protests/marches


  • Quality education
  • The Achievement Gap
  • K-12
  • Higher education
  • Faculty
  • Student learning
  • Advising
  • Racism on campus
  • Racist faculty
  • The purpose of education
  • Low income schools
  • College preparation
  • Student success


  • Equal employment opportunities
  • Hiring/terminations
  • Reporting racism
  • Racism
  • Disparate treatment
  • Promotions
  • Job opportunities
  • Corporate America
  • Black women in the workplace
  • Inequities in the workplace
  • Careers/career advancement
  • Exclusion in the workplace
  • Diversity
  • Tolerance as a catalyst
  • Colorism


  • Environmental racism
  • Air quality
  • Neighborhood contamination
  • Inner cities
  • Flint and the water crisis


  • Extended families
  • Relationships
  • Parenting
  • Saving the children
  • Children/teens
  • Conversations with Black boys/Black girls
  • Family structure
  • Black girls/boys – unique needs/challenges and traumas


  • Federal
  • State
  • Local
  • Job training programs
  • Opportunities


  • Healthcare disparities
  • Black women and healthcare
  • Pregnancies and death rates
  • Black men and healthcare
  • COVID-19

Historical  (relate to issues in the millennium)

  • Post-slavery
  • Reparations?
  • 400 years
  • Racism in America
  • Reconstruction
  • Civil War
  • Jim Crow
  • The Civil Rights Era
  • Black Power Movement
  • The Deacons of Defense
  • The Black Panthers
  • The Civil Rights Era
  • Racism in the millennium
  • Lynching/murders
  • Emmett Till in the millennium
  • Boycotts
  • The Black Panthers and the Black Community


  • What would DuBois and Booker T. Washington Do?
  • What would Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X Do?
  • Community leaders
  • The opportunists
  • Game changers
  • Leading change

Legal/Criminal Justice

  • Criminal justice system as a just system
  • Prisons/Incarceration
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Sentencing of Black boys/men/girls/women
  • Jury bias
  • Justice delayed is justice denied


  • Perpetuating racism
  • Unconscious racism
  • Stereotypes
  • Reporting/news


  • The lack of inner-city programs
  • Recreational vs. Intellectual programs for inner city Black children
  • Mentoring Black girls/boys


  • Self-esteem
  • Self-love
  • Self-respect
  • Self-identity
  • Self-pride
  • Culture
  • Anger
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Acceptance
  • Trauma/challenges
  • Trauma (psychological, physical, emotional and social)
  • Burdens of our children
  • Deferred dreams
  • Hope/diminished hope
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Colorism
  • Healing
  • Rising to the top

Police and the Community

  • Racial profiling
  • Police and racism
  • Policing black bodies
  • Murder of Black men/boys/women/girls
  • Protests
  • Civil rights
  • Incarceration
  • Prosecuting police officers
  • Conflict and differences
  • Police brutality
  • Police calls (false reporting of Black Americans for unsubstantiated reasons)
  • Colorism
  • Detaining Black men
  • “You fit the description”
  • Accountability
  • Police misconduct in the millennium
  • The Black Panthers and Police
  • Citizen Review Boards


  • Democrats
  • Republicans
  • Voting
  • Pandering for the Black vote
  • Promises
  • Agendas

Racism/Institutional Racism

  • Speaking truth to power
  • Racial prejudice
  • Racial disparities
  • Negative stereotypes
  • Prejudice
  • Biasness
  • Racial perception gap
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Law
  • Employment
  • Financial industry
  • White privilege
  • White supremacy
  • Racial divide
  • Conscious and unconscious racism
  • Intentional and unintentional racism
  • Overt racism
  • Covert racism
  • Critical race theories
  • Strategies
  • Voices
  • Why we can’t wait
  • Enough


  • Relationships
  • Interracial platonic and romantic relationships
  • Value of Black lives
  • Jim Crow in the Millennium
  • Organizations (NAACP, Urban League, etc.)
  • Unity
  • Solidarity
  • Psychic prisons
  • Interracial colorism
  • Voices and being heard
  • Taking a stand
  • Strategies
  • Conversations about racism
  • A seat at the table must include equal representation (diverse group of Black Americans)
  • Social justice

Social Media

  • Online Platforms
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram


  • Income disparities
  • Small businesses
  • Opportunities
  • Financial
  • Credit
  • Home ownership
  • Mortgages
  • Neighborhoods
  • Housing
  • Black Wall Street in the Millennium?

The Black Church

The anthology is a fundraiser of the Journal of Colorism Studies with all proceeds supporting the Journal of Colorism Studies.

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