All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Tondra L Loder-Jackson

Advisory Committee Members

Mary Ann Bodine Al-Sharif

Samantha Briggs

Dereef Jamison

Michele Jean Sims

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


Colorism perpetuates the same variables that drive the principles of racism and has led to disparate treatment, lower self-esteem, and negative perceptions within communities of color for decades. Since Black women are considered second class citizens, behind both men and White women, it is vital to acknowledge that their experiences with racism, compounded by colorism, are most salient. The purpose of this qualitative research study is three-fold: (1) to explore colorism as a phenomenon while also investigating its impact on the higher education attainment of Black collegiate women, (2) to give these women a voice regarding their personal experiences with colorism; and (3) to generate culturally pertinent information that can be used to raise awareness, provide empowerment, and create social change regarding how we view colorism. To begin to answer the question of how Black women narrate their experiences with colorism in higher education at a predominantly White urban public state institution in the South, the researcher clearly conveys an understanding of these Black collegiate women’s perceptions by drawing on literature addressing the historical foundations of colorism, impacts of colorism on education, and the psychological impacts of colorism on perceptions of intelligence, self-worth, and self-efficacy. This phenomenological research study, which uses critical race theory and Black feminist thought—which combined, inform critical race feminisms—acknowledges the significant impacts of childhood trauma, overt racism, and the reality of being Black. The study ultimately creates an enhanced appreciation of Black collegiate iv women’s personal experiences, challenges, and perspectives as they navigate a predominantly White urban public state institution in the South. Once a foundational understanding and the significance of impact are established, this will inspire critical discussions within academic settings to encourage the exploration and collaboration to end colorism.

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