“Oh, You’re Pretty for a Dark-Skinned Girl”: Black Adolescent Girls’ Identities and Resistance to Colorism

R. Josiah Rosario*, Imani Minor, Leoandra Onnie Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The current analysis explored the relevance of colorism among Black girls enrolled at a predominately Black, all-girls high school, with a specific focus on their identities and well-being. Fifty-nine Black girls (Mage = 16.97) completed a survey and semi-structured interview. Results from a two-step quant-qual analysis indicate a strong positive association between rejecting colorist ideology and positive self-esteem. Open coding of semi-structured interviews showed that 75% (n = 44) of the sample spontaneously mentioned colorist ideology when describing their racial and gender identities, including references to skin color (56%), hair texture/style (50%), attractiveness/femininity (38%), and body type (18%). More importantly, 74% of these discussions indicated resistance to colorism illustrating Black girls’ engagement with and denouncement of ideologies of white supremacy, patriarchy, and anti-blackness. This critical qualitative analysis illustrates and offers guidance for practicing anti-racist adolescent research. We offer four insights: (a) consider the research spaces in which Black youth in our research are situated to better represent the diversity (and potential) of Black youth; (b) listen to and and follow the voices of Black girls; (c) attend to agency and resistance in development; and (d) recognize intersectionality as integral to anti-racist research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-534
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Volume36
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • adolescent development
  • anti-racist research
  • Black girls
  • colorism
  • identity
  • intersectionality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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