Race, gender and the politics of skin tone tackles the hidden yet painful issue of colorism in the African American and Mexican American communities. Beginning with a historical discussion of slavery and colonization in the Americas, the book quickly moves forward to a contemporary analysis of how skin color continues to plague people of color today. Margaret Hunter describes how colorism leads to discrimination resulting in lower levels of education, lower incomes, and lower status husbands. In addition to issues of color, Hunter also investigates the growing phenomenon of cosmetic surgery to Anglicize facial features such as noses and lips.
In startling interviews with African American and Mexican American women, Margaret Hunter also presents the voices of women of color who describe the personal, and often private pain of colorism in their own lives. Light-skinned women gain advantages in terms of beauty status and romantic relationships, while dark-skinned women ae typically viewed as more authentic members of their own racial/ethnic groups. This is the first book to explore this well-known, yet rarely discussed phenomenon.
Margaret Hunter is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Loyola Marymount University.
Comments on the Book by Leading Scholars
This book is a groundbreaking scholarly exploration of the hierarchies created by the intersection of colorism, racism, and sexism among women of African and Mexican descent. Using multiple methods, and set in historical context, Hunter provides a cogent analysis of how valuing white over brown and black skin tone impinges upon status attainment, mate selection, self and other definitions of beauty, and ethnic authenticity. It is a must read for students of race, gender, and class for it reminds us that the U.S., and increasingly the world, is 'colorstruck.
Race, Gender, and the Politics of Skin Tone is among the best scholarly accounts of the well-known yet rarely discussed phenomenon of colorism. In startling interviews with African American and Mexican American women, Margaret Hunter shows that colorism is still with us--that there is a persistent advantage for lighter skinned women of color in terms of educational attainment, income, residential segregation, spousal status, and mental health. In short, that light skin works as epidermal capital. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the continuing significance of colorism in America today.