Shades of racism

I’d call this "disturbing news", but it’s actually barely newsworthy to those who pay attention to such matters.

A depressing recent study put out by my school, the University of Georgia, reminds us of the many sinister permutations racism and racial preferences continue to take in the real world. 

The preference for lighter skin tone runs so deep, it appears, that lightskinned Blacks without qualifications are more likely to get hired than far more qualified Black men with dark skin. 

We’re talking about men with mere BA’s getting hired over those with MBAs.

The worst part is perhaps that this probably isn’t primarily the result of conscious racism. (How many employers would consciously choose a novice with a BA over a seasoned professional with an MBA?)  It stems from unconscious assumptions about the correlation between skin color and personality characteristics.

Racism is alive and well, and it continues to impoverish the lives of millions. 

Athens, Ga. – Everyone knows about the insidious effects of racism in American society. But when it comes to the workplace, African Americans may face a more complex situation—the effects of their own skin tone.

For the first time, a study indicates that dark-skinned African Americans face a distinct disadvantage when applying for jobs, even if they have resumes superior to lighter-skinned black applicants.

Matthew Harrison, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia, presented his research today at the 66th annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Atlanta. Along with his faculty supervisor, Kecia Thomas, a professor of applied psychology and acting director of UGA’s Institute for African American Studies, Harrison undertook the first significant study of “colorism” in the American workplace.

“The findings in this study are, tragically, not too surprising,” said Harrison. “We found that a light-skinned black male can have only a bachelor’s degree and typical work experience and still be preferred over a dark-skinned black male with an MBA and past managerial positions, simply because expectations of the light-skinned black male are much higher, and he doesn’t appear as ‘menacing’ as the darker-skinned male applicant.”

Forgive the utterly random example, but perhaps this explains Haile Berry’s disproportionate visibility in Hollywood?  I mean, her gifts as an actress are so painfully modest, and IMO she’s by no means the prettiest African-American woman on the silver screen today.  Yet she probably gets more attention in popular culture than all other Black actresses combined.


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