Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Africana Studies


Iyabo Osiapem

Committee Members

Monika Gosin

Anne Charity Hudley


I investigate the ways colorism operates in the lives of ten Afro-Trinidadian/Black women in Trinidad and ten African-American/Black women in the United States. The purpose of my research is to investigate the way colorism is discussed in my participants’ college communities. The purpose is to educate the members of the Black communities that I studied about the negative effects of colorism. Entrenched in skin tone hierarchies, the post-slavery countries of the United States and Trinidad are exemplars of the how the social constructs of a racial caste system perpetuates themselves in Black communities. I provide literature on how the racial skin hierarchy affects Black females and what stereotypes are attributed to certain skin tones in both Trinidad and the United States. I explore how these individuals internalize colorism and, by extension, how colorism influences their self-perceptions and perceptions of others. My research will add to the academic discourse of colorism, especially in Trinidad, where there is a dearth of literature on colorism. By instituting a cross-cultural examination, I demonstrate that colorism is a form of intra-racial discrimination that still affects Black communities, locally and abroad. Using the grounded theory approach, I found that a theme that emerged from all twenty participants was the desire to have more discussions of colorism in the academia. In response, I include curriculum-based suggestions to help facilitate discussions in the classroom in the appendix section of the paper.

On-Campus Access Only