HR Issues: Colorism in the Workplace



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  • African Americans -- Race Identity
  • Human skin color -- Social Aspects -- United States
  • Post-racialism -- United States
  • Race awareness -- United States
  • Racism in the workplace -- United States
  • Diversity in the workplace

Definitions and Background Information


These are the key business databases. Search these first.

Colorism is widely covered in sociology journals.  The research covers issues of employment and discrimination.

How to Search Databases

This is the basic way to set up your search.  If you don't seem to be finding enough you will want to add other search terms:

  • For workplace also use employment or labor.
  • For colorism also use skin color or skin bias or lookism or "color discrimination"

Key Articles

Arthur H. Goldsmith, Professor at Washington and Lee University, put forth a preference-for-whiteness theory and has written extensively on the relationship of wages and skin color.

 "From Dark to Light: Skin Color and Wages among African-Americans"

Author(s): Arthur H. Goldsmith, Darrick Hamilton and William Darity Jr. 

Source: The Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 42, No. 4 (Fall, 2007), pp. 701-738

“Shades of Discrimination: Skin Tone and Wages”

Authors: Arthur H. Goldsmith, Darrick Hamilton and William Darity Jr.

Source: American Economic Review , Vol. 92, No. 2, (May 2006) pp. 242-245

Use the database, EconLit, to find these and other articles by Goldsmith and his co-authors.

Other Databases

These databases may be helpful in adding different perspectives on the issue of colorism.


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