Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The Influence of Colorism and Hair Texture Bias on the Professional and Social Lives of Black Women Student Affairs Professionals “If it was so honorable and glorious to be black, why was it the yellow-skinned people among us had so much prestige?” Zora Neal Hurston (1942) understood the privilege and oppression associated with colorism. “Colorism is the allocation of privilege and disadvantage according to the lightness or darkness of one’s skin” (Burke, 2008, p. 17). Colorism is the systematic preference for lighter skin tones over darker tones and stems from larger racial systems impacting education, income, marriageability, job placement, housing and social status for Black Americans (Hunter, 2005). The systematic privileging of light skin over dark skin advocates a hierarchy of skin tones, whereas lighter tones are positioned at the top, which impacts the roles Black Americans play within their own social group and in the larger US consciousness. Other physical characteristics, including facial features, weight, and hair texture also serve as gatekeepers; granting or denying access based on these features. In recent years, Black women have been encouraged to big chop and go natural, as to wear their natural hair curl pattern without chemicals and extensions. This is evidenced in the countless videos, memes, blogs, and vlogs via social media outlets, which may present challenges for Black women who wish to rid themselves of the mental enslavement Eurocentric beauty ideals have placed on their former crowns of glory, their hair, when entering professional arenas as well as social encounters. Incorporating Black hair politics allows for further exploration of the role aesthetics plays in the experiences of Black women socially and professionally. Skin tone bias has historical underpinnings but is still relevant in today’s society and is pervasive in the modern workplace, affecting Black Americans’ job mobility and professional experiences (Harrison, 2010), while simultaneously influencing the social lives of Black women. The purpose of the proposed study is to understand how colorism and hair texture bias influence the professional and social lives of Black women Student Affairs professionals



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Secure the entire work for patent and/or proprietary purposes for a period of one year. Student has submitted appropriate documentation which states: During this period the copyright owner also agrees not to exercise her/his ownership rights, including public use in works, without prior authorization from LSU. At the end of the one year period, either we or LSU may request an automatic extension for one additional year. At the end of the one year secure period (or its extension, if such is requested), the work will be released for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Chaney, Cassandra



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Education Commons