Color Stories
Black Women and Colorism in the 21st Century
by JeffriAnne Wilder
October 2015, 198pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3109-6
$65, £50, 57€, A90
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3110-2
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Colorism continues to impact women of African descent in a new generation and century.

This book offers an in-depth sociological exploration of present-day colorism in the lives of black women, investigating the lived experiences of a phenomenon that continues to affect women of African descent.

Race still matters. And for black women, the related issues of skin tone are just as important today as in decades past. Part cultural commentary, part empirical analysis, this book offers a compelling study and discussion of colorism—a widely discussed but understudied issue in “post-racial” America—that demonstrates how powerful a factor skin color remains in the everyday lives of young black women. Author JeffriAnne Wilder conducted interviews with dozens of young black women about the role of colorism in their everyday lives. Collectively, these findings offer a compelling empirical and theoretical analysis of colorism in key areas of 21st-century life, including within family and school settings, in the media, and in intimate relationships.

The culmination of nearly two decades of the author’s deep entrenchment in colorism studies, Color Stories: Black Women and Colorism in the 21st Century provides a new perspective on a controversial issue that has been a part of black culture and academic study for generations by exploring how the contemporary nature of colorism—from Facebook to the First Lady to Beyoncé—impacts the ideas and experiences of black women. This work serves as essential reading for anyone interested in learning more about the historical and contemporary significance of colorism in modern-day America, regardless of the reader’s race, sex, or age.


  • Presents a contemporary sociological analysis of the issue of skin-tone prejudice and discrimination and the unique social and cultural implications for black women in today's society
  • Provides readers with a vocabulary for understanding and discussing the unique features and characteristics of colorism in the 21st century
  • Supplies scholarly analysis balanced with thought-provoking testimony from more than 60 black women between the ages of 18 and 25 on how color matters in their daily lives
  • Offers concrete strategies for change and empowerment in dismantling the paradigm of colorism
JeffriAnne Wilder, PhD, is associate professor of sociology at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL. She is also director of the Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations at the University of North Florida and a member of the doctoral teaching faculty in the department of Educational Leadership, School Counseling, and Sport Management. Wilder holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Florida.


"The author employs a sophisticated theoretical framework to interpret manifestations of colorism past and present and, importantly, puts her findings into dialogue with broader discussions of race and racism. . . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."—Choice, May 2, 2016

"Through a compelling analysis of how colorism is talked about, made sense of, and even practiced by young, Black women in their everyday lives, this book provides new understandings of the linkages between skin tone and racism and the gendered nature of both. Giving much needed attention to the often neglected women in the 'brown' middle, this work reminds us that colorism is not a dichotomy of light vs. dark, but that those who fall in the middle of the continuum have their own color narratives. Despite the optimistic view that skin color bias died out in the 'black is beautiful' era, Wilder convincingly demonstrates that the color hierarchy continues well past its expiration date."—Verna M. Keith, Professor, Department of Sociology, and Director, Race & Ethnic Studies Institute (RESI), Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
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