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Discrimination based on skin color

  (Redirected from Colorism)

Discrimination based on skin color, also known as colorism or shadeism, is a form of prejudice or discrimination usually from members of the same race in which people are treated differently based on the social implications from cultural meanings attached to skin color.[1]

Research has found extensive evidence of discrimination based on skin color in criminal justice, business, the economy, housing, health care, media, and politics in the United States and Europe. Lighter skin tones are seen as preferable in many countries in Africa, Asia and South America.


Several meta-analyses find extensive evidence of ethnic and racial discrimination in hiring in the North American and European labor markets.[2][3][4] A 2016 meta-analysis of 738 correspondence tests in 43 separate studies conducted in OECD countries between 1990 and 2015 finds that there is extensive racial discrimination used within both the European and North American hiring process.[3] Equivalent minority candidates need to send around 50% more applications than majority candidates to be invited for an interview.[3] Recent research in the U.S. shows that socioeconomic and health inequality among African Americans along the color continuum is often similar or even larger in magnitude than what exists between whites and African Americans as a whole.[5][6]


East and South AsiaEdit

In East, South and Southeast Asia, a preference for lighter skin is prevalent,[7] especially in countries such as China, South Korea, India and Japan.[8][9]

The history of skin whitening in East Asia dates far back to ancient times. In the ancient dynastic eras, to be light in an environment in which the sun was harsh implied wealth and nobility because those individuals were able to remain indoors while servants had to labor outside.[7] Ancient Asian cultures also associated light skin with feminine beauty. "Jade" white skin in Korea is known to have been the ideal as far back as the Gojoseon era.[8] Japan's Edo period saw the start of a trend of women whitening their faces with rice powder as a "moral duty".[8] Chinese women valued a "milk white" complexion and swallowed powdered pearls towards that end.[8] Four out of ten women surveyed in Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, and South Korea use a skin whitening cream.[10] In many Asian cultures, colorism is taught to children in the form of fairy tales, just as the Grimms' fairy tales featured light-skinned princesses or maidens; Asian mythological protagonists are typically fair and depict virtue, purity, and goodness. A light complexion is equated with feminine beauty, racial superiority, and power, and continues to have strong influences on marital prospects, employment, status, and income.[11]

Globalized East Asia still retains these biases, but they are compounded by the influence of Westernized beauty ideals and media that equate whiteness with modern and urban wealth and success.[12] The legacies of European colonialism in India and Pakistan also influence the modern relations between light skin and power.[8]


Colorism in India has also been fueled due to the events under British colonial rule, where British officials consistently demeaned dark-skinned Indians and favored light-skinned Indians for jobs over dark-skinned Indians.[13] As a result of hundreds of years of British colonial influence, remnants of the British tactics that exacerbated colorism still remain in Indian society.[14] Other forms of colorism in India can be seen in the cosmetic industry, where "fairness" creams meant to lighten skin are popular,[15] and in the Bollywood industry, where the majority of actors and actresses hired are light-skinned, and actresses are often photoshopped to look lighter.[16]

For example, in the state of Maharashtra, a group of young tribal[when defined as?] girls trained to be flight crew through a government scholarship program that aimed to empower women. The majority of girls were denied employment due to their darker skin tone. A few of those women obtained jobs, but only as out-of-sight ground crew.[17]


Skin-lightening creams are popular in Pakistan, especially among women.[18] Many ads feature light-skin models in good light while portraying dark-skinned models poorly.[19] Bollywood, which largely features light skinned Indian actors, is also influential among Pakistanis.[19]

Sri LankaEdit

Fair skin is a beauty ideal in contemporary Sri Lankan society but has its roots in ancient Sri Lankan beauty ideals. Fairness products and other products that include whitening agents are commonly sold in Sri Lanka and are popular among females.[20] Fair skinned actors and actresses feature prominently in Bollywood films and Korean dramas both of which are widely popular and influential in Sri Lanka.[21]

China and JapanEdit

Hiroshi Wagatsuma writes in Daedalus that Japanese culture has long associated skin color with other physical characteristics that signify degrees of spiritual refinement or of primitiveness.[22] The scholar repeats an old Japanese proverb: "white skin makes up for seven defects."[22] More specifically for a woman, very light skin allows people to overlook her lack of other desired physical characteristics.[22] Skin color has and continues to influence attractiveness and socioeconomic status and capability.[22]

People in the western hemisphere have long characterised east Asians, specifically Chinese and Japanese people, as "yellow", but the Chinese and Japanese seldom describe their skin color in that way.[22] The Japanese traditionally used the word shiroi – meaning "white" – to describe the lighter shades of skin in their society.[22]

The court ladies of Japan during the Nara period from 710 to 793 AD applied a large amount of white powder to the face and added red rosy cheeks.[22] Many references to plump women with white skin appear in both drawings and writings from 794–1186 AD.[22] In literature, note for example The Tale of Genji (written c. 1000–1012) by Lady Murasaki.[22]


A survey concluded that three quarters of Malaysian men thought their partners would be more attractive if they had lighter skin complexions.[7]

In certain Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, a common beauty ideal is the "Eurasian look" known locally in Malaysia as the "pan-Asian look" is an ideal that stems from the beauty ideal of fair skin, which Eurasians tend to naturally possess.[23] The overuse of pan-Asian faces on billboards and on television screens has been a controversial issue in the country. The issue was highlighted in 2009 when Zainuddin Maidin, a Malaysian politician, called for the reduction of pan-Asian faces which he claimed dominate TV and billboards and instead increase the number of Malay, Chinese and Indian faces on local television.[24] Despite the controversy surrounding the preference for Malaysians who are of mixed Asian (Malay, Chinese or Indian) and European descent who possess features such as fair skin, some experts in the industry have said the use of pan-Asian faces can be used to promote the racial diversity of Malaysians. They can also be used to promote a product towards a diverse racial demographic because of their mixed appearance, which the Minister of Information had suggested in 1993.[25]


In many parts of Africa, women with lighter skin are thought to be more beautiful and likely to find more success than women of darker skin tones.[26] Often this barrier leads to women turning to skin lightening treatments, many of which are harmful to the body.

Historically, the cause of skin lightening goes back to colonialism, where individuals with lighter skin received greater privilege than those of darker tones.[27] This built a racial hierarchy and color ranking within colonized African nations, leaving psychological effects on many of the darker skinned individuals.[27]

Colorism affects both women and men in African countries, but it has taken hold of the beauty standards associated with a woman's ability to find success and marriage. The number of women across African countries using bleaching products have gone up with 77% of Nigerian women, 52% of Senegalese women, and 25% of Malian women using lightening products.[26][27]


Research suggests that police practices, such as racial profiling, over-policing in areas populated by minorities and in-group bias may result in disproportionately high numbers of racial minorities among crime suspects in Sweden, Italy, and England and Wales.[28][29][30][31][32] Research also suggests that there may be possible discrimination by the judicial system, which contributes to a higher number of convictions for racial minorities in Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Denmark and France.[28][30][31][33][34][35][36]

Several meta-analyses find extensive evidence of ethnic and racial discrimination in hiring in the North American and European labor markets.[2][3][4] A 2016 meta-analysis of 738 correspondence tests in 43 separate studies conducted in OECD countries between 1990 and 2015 finds that there is extensive racial discrimination in hiring decisions in Europe and North America.[3] Equivalent minority candidates need to send around 50% more applications to be invited for an interview than majority candidates.[3]

A 2014 meta-analysis found extensive evidence of racial and ethnic discrimination in the housing market of several European countries.[2] There is extensive discrimination against immigrant groups in the French housing and labor markets,[37][38] against Turkish immigrants in the German labor market,[39] against immigrants with non-Spanish names in the Spanish housing market,[40] and against Brits of black skin color or south Asian origin in the British labor market.[41]

A 2017 experimental study found that the Dutch discriminate against non-Western immigrants in trust games.[42]

Latin AmericaEdit


Brazil has the world's largest population of African descendants living outside Africa. Racially mixed individuals with lighter skin generally have higher rates of social mobility.[43] There are a disproportionate number of mostly European descent elites than those of visible African descent. There are large health, education and income disparities between the races in Brazil.[44] A recent study even finds that skin color is a stronger predictor of social inequality in Brazil than 'race' (i.e. 'race-color' categories used on the Brazilian census); and highlights that socially perceived skin color and 'race' are not the same thing.[45] Even though browns/mulattos and blacks comprise more than 50 percent of the population, they comprise less than 25 percent of elected politicians.[46]

A 2016 study, using twins as a control for neighborhood and family characteristics, found that the nonwhite twin is disadvantaged in the educational system.[47] A 2015 study on racial bias in teacher evaluations in Brazil found that Brazilian math teachers gave better grading assessments of white students than equally proficient and equivalently well-behaved black students.[48]

A 2018 paper found that discriminatory hiring and retention policies accounted for 6-8% of the overall racial wage gap.[49]


A 2016 study found that Chilean schoolteachers had lower expectations of their dark-skinned students (morenos) than their light-skinned students (blancos).[50]


A 2017 study revealed a 45% gap in educational achievement between the darkest- and lightest-skinned White Mexicans and that wealth in the country similarly correlated to skin color.[51]

United StatesEdit


European colonialism created a system of racial hierarchy and race-based ideology, which had led to a structure of domination that privileged whites over blacks. Biological differences in skin color were used as a justification for the enslavement and oppression of Africans and Native Americans; developing a social hierarchy that placed whites at the top and blacks at the bottom. Slaves with lighter complexion were allowed to engage in less strenuous tasks, like domestic duties, while the darker slaves participated in hard labor, which was more than likely outdoors.[52]

African-Americans with a partial white heritage were seen to be smarter and superior to dark-skinned blacks, giving them broader opportunities for education and the acquisition of land and property.[53] Colorism was a device used by the white colonist in order to create a division between the Africans and further the idea that being as close to white as possible was the ideal image. One of the first forms of colorism was the white slave owners deciding that only the light skinned slaves would work in the house while the darker ones were subjected to the harsh conditions of the fields.[54] This led to a clear division between the slaves There were tests to determine who was light enough to work in the house and sometimes get special privileges. One of these tests was the brown paper bag test.[55] If a person's skin was darker than a brown paper bag, they were deemed too dark to work in the house. The skin tests were not just used by white people trying to differentiate between black people, but also by the black people themselves. In addition to the bag test, the comb test and the door test were also used.[56]

The comb test was used to measure the kinkiness of the persons hair. The objective was for the comb to be able to pass through the hair without stopping. The door test was popular at some African American clubs and churches. The people in charge would paint the door a certain shade of brown, similar to the bag test, and if you were darker than the door, you were not allowed admittance into the establishment. These tests were used to measure what level of "blackness" was and was not acceptable for the world. Because the lighter slaves were allowed to work in the house, they were more likely to be educated than the darker slaves.[57] This birthed the stereotype that dark people were stupid and ignorant. Scholars predict that the preferred color of beauty will not be black or white, but mixed in the future.[58] Scholars also predict the United States will adopt a "multicultural matrix" which will help bridge the racial gap in efforts of achieving racial harmony ( Browning of America ). The matrix has four components, the mixed race will help fix racial issues, it serves as a sign of racial progress, it suggest racism as a phenomenon and also suggest that focus on race is racist due to the lack of racial neutrality.[58]


A 2014 meta-analysis of racial discrimination in product markets found extensive evidence of minority applicants being quoted higher prices for products.[2] A 1995 study found that car dealers "quoted significantly lower prices to white males than to black or female test buyers using identical, scripted bargaining strategies."[59] A 2013 study found that eBay sellers of iPods received 21 percent more offers if a white hand held the iPod in the photo than a black hand.[60]

A 2014 study in the Journal of Economic Growth found that anti-black violence and terrorism, as well as segregation laws, reduced the economic activity and innovation of African Americans.[61]

African-Americans have historically faced discrimination in terms of getting access to credit.[62]

Criminal justice systemEdit

Research suggests that police practices, such as racial profiling, over-policing in areas populated by minorities and in-group bias may result in disproportionately high numbers of racial minorities among crime suspects.[63][64][65][66] Research also suggests that there may be possible discrimination by the judicial system, which contributes to a higher number of convictions for racial minorities.[67][68][69][70][71][72][73][74] A 2012 study found that "(i) juries formed from all-white jury pools convict black defendants significantly (16 percentage points) more often than white defendants, and (ii) this gap in conviction rates is entirely eliminated when the jury pool includes at least one black member."[69] Research has found evidence of in-group bias, where "black (white) juveniles who are randomly assigned to black (white) judges are more likely to get incarcerated (as opposed to being placed on probation), and they receive longer sentences."[71] In-group bias has also been observed when it comes to traffic citations, as black and white cops are more likely to cite out-groups.[65]

A 2014 study in the Journal of Political Economy found that 9% of the black-white gap in sentencing could not be accounted for.[73] The elimination of unexplained sentencing disparities would reduce "the level of black men in federal prison by 8,000–11,000 men [out of black male prison population of 95,000] and save $230–$320 million per year in direct costs."[73] The majority of the unexplained sentencing disparity appears to occur at the point when prosecutors decide to bring charges carrying “mandatory minimum” sentences.[73] A 2018 paper by Alma Cohen and Crystal Yang of Harvard Law School found that "that Republican-appointed judges give substantially longer prison sentences to black offenders versus observably similar non-black offenders compared to Democratic-appointed judges within the same district court."[75] A 2018 study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics found that bail judges in Miami and Philadelphia were racially biased against black defendants, as white defendants had higher rates of pretrial misconduct than black defendants.[76]

A 2018 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that black and Hispanic men were far more likely to be killed by police than white men.[77] A 2019 study by Roland G. Fryer, Jr. found that while there are no racial differences in lethal use of police force, blacks and Hispanics are significantly more likely to experience non-lethal use of force.[78] A 2019 paper by Princeton University political scientists disputed the findings by Fryer, saying that if police had a higher threshold for stopping whites, this might mean that the whites, Hispanics and blacks in Fryer's data are not similar.[79] Reports by the Department of Justice have also found that police officers in Baltimore, Maryland, and Ferguson, Missouri, systemically stop, search (in some cases strip-searching) and harass black residents.[80][81] A January 2017 report by the DOJ also found that the Chicago Police Department had "unconstitutionally engaged in a pattern of excessive and deadly force" and that police "have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color."[82] A 2018 study found that police officers more likely to use lethal force on blacks.[83] A 2019 study in the Journal of Politics found that police officers were more likely to use lethal force on blacks, but that this "most likely driven by higher rates of police contact among African Americans rather than racial differences in the circumstances of the interaction and officer bias in the application of lethal force."[84] A 2019 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that blacks and American Indian/Alaska Natives are more likely to be killed by police than whites, and that Latino men are more likely to be killed than white men.[85] According to the study, "for young men of color, police use of force is among the leading causes of death."[85] A separate Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study found that there were no racial disparities in police shootings by white police;[86] the findings of the study were disputed by Princeton University scholars who argued that the study's method and dataset made it impossible for the authors to reach that conclusion.[87]

In criminal sentencing, medium to dark-skinned African Americans are likely to receive sentences 2.6 years longer than those of whites or light-skinned African Americans. When a white victim is involved, those with more "black" features are likely to receive a much more severe punishment.[88] A 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research experiment found that law students, economics students and practicing lawyers who watched 3D Virtual Reality videos of court trials (where the researchers altered the race of the defendants) showed a racial bias against minorities.[89]

According to a 2011 ProPublica analysis, "whites are nearly four times as likely as minorities to win a pardon, even when the type of crime and severity of sentence are taken into account."[90]

A 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union found that blacks were "3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession," even though "blacks and whites use drugs, including marijuana, at similar rates."[91]

A 2014 study on the application of the death penalty in Connecticut over the period 1973–2007 found "that minority defendants who kill white victims are capitally charged at substantially higher rates than minority defendants who kill minorities... There is also strong and statistically significant evidence that minority defendants who kill whites are more likely to end up with capital sentences than comparable cases with white defendants."[92]

A 2016 analysis by the New York Times "of tens of thousands of disciplinary cases against inmates in 2015, hundreds of pages of internal reports and three years of parole decisions found that racial disparities were embedded in the prison experience in New York."[93] Blacks and Latinos were sent more frequently to solitary and held there for longer durations than whites.[93] The New York Times analysis found that the disparities were the greatest for violations where the prison guards had lots of discretion, such as disobeying orders, but smaller for violations that required physical evidence, such as possessing contraband.[93]

A 2016 report by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune found that Florida judges sentence black defendants to far longer prison sentences than whites with the same background.[94] For the same drug possession crimes, blacks were sentenced to double the time of whites.[94] Blacks were given longer sentences in 60 percent of felony cases, 68 percent of the most serious first-degree crimes, 45 percent of burglary cases and 30 percent of battery cases.[94] For third-degree felonies (the least serious types of felonies in Florida), white judges sentenced blacks to twenty percent more time than whites, whereas black judges gave more balanced sentences.[94]

A 2017 report by the Marshall Project found that killings of black men by whites were far more likely to be deemed "justifiable" than killings by any other combination of races.[95]

A 2017 report by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) found, "after controlling for a wide variety of sentencing factors" (such as age, education, citizenship, weapon possession and prior criminal history), that "black male offenders received sentences on average 19.1 percent longer than similarly situated White male offenders."[96][97]

A 2018 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that tall young black men are especially likely to receive unjustified attention by law enforcement.[98] The authors furthermore found a "causal link between perceptions of height and perceptions of threat for Black men, particularly for perceivers who endorse stereotypes that Black people are more threatening than White people."[98]

A 2018 study in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics found that judges gave longer sentences, in particular to black defendants, after their favorite team lost a home game.[99]

Analysis of more than 20 million traffic stops in North Carolina showed that blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to be pulled over by police for traffic stops, and that blacks were more likely to be searched following the stop. There were no significant difference in the likelihood that Hispanics would be pulled over, but Hispanics were much more likely to be searched following a traffic stop than whites. When the study controlled for searches in high-crime areas, it still found that police disproportionately targeted black individuals. These racial disparities were particularly pronounced for young men. The study found that whites who were searched were more likely to carry contraband than blacks and Hispanics.[100][101]

A 2018 study in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies found that law enforcement officers in Texas who could charge shoplifters with two types of crimes (one more serious, one less so) due to a vaguely worded statute were more likely to charge blacks and Hispanics with the more serious crime.[102]

A 2019 study, which made use of a dataset of the racial makeup of every U.S. sheriff over a 25-year period, found that "ratio of Black‐to‐White arrests is significantly higher under White sheriffs" and that the effects appear to be "driven by arrests for less‐serious offenses and by targeting Black crime types."[103]

A 2019 audit study found that lawyers are less likely to take on clients with black-sounding names than white-sounding names.[104]


In 1954, Brown vs. the Board of Education ruled that integrated, equal schools be accessible to all children unbiased to skin color. Currently in the United States, not all state funded schools are equally funded.  Schools are funded by the "federal, state, and local governments" while "states play a large and increasing role in education funding."[105] "Property taxes support most of the funding that local government provides for education."[105] Schools located in lower income areas receive a lower level of funding and schools located in higher income areas receiving greater funding for education all based on property taxes.  The U.S. Department of Education reports that "many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding, leaving students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers."[106] The U.S. Department of Education also reports this fact affects "more than 40% of low-income schools."[106] Children of color are much more likely to suffer from poverty than white children.

A 2015 study using correspondence tests "found that when considering requests from prospective students seeking mentoring in the future, faculty were significantly more responsive to White males than to all other categories of students, collectively, particularly in higher-paying disciplines and private institutions."[107] Through affirmative action, elite colleges consider a broader range of experiences for minority applicants.[108]

A 2016 study in the journal PNAS found that blacks and Hispanics were systemically underrepresented in education-programs for gifted children where teachers and parents referred students to those programs; when a universal screening program based on IQ was used to refer students, the disparity was reduced significantly.[109]

The phrase "brown paper bag test," also known as a paper bag party, along with the "ruler test" refers to a ritual once practiced by certain African-American sororities and fraternities who would not let anyone into the group whose skin tone was darker than a paper bag.[110] Spike Lee's film School Daze satirized this practice at historically black colleges and universities.[111] Along with the "paper bag test," guidelines for acceptance among the lighter ranks included the "comb test" and "pencil test," which tested the coarseness of one's hair, and the "flashlight test," which tested a person's profile to make sure their features measured up or were close enough to those of the Caucasian race.[110]

A 2013 study used spectrophotometer readings to quantify skin color of respondents. White women experience discrimination in education, with those having darker skin graduating from college at lower rates than those with lighter skin. This precise and repeatable test of skin color revealed that white women experience skin color discrimination in education at levels consistent with African-Americans. White men are not affected in this way.[112]


A 2019 review of the literature in the Annual Review of Public Health found that structural racism, cultural racism, and individual-level discrimination are "a fundamental cause of adverse health outcomes for racial/ethnic minorities and racial/ethnic inequities in health."[113]

A 1999 study found that doctors treat black and white patients differently, even when their medical files were statistically identical.[114] When shown patient histories and asked to make judgments about heart disease, the doctors were much less likely to recommend cardiac catheterization (a helpful procedure) to black patients.[114] A 2015 study found that pediatricians were more likely to undertreat appendicitis pain in black children than white children.[115] A 2017 study found that medical staff treating anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries perceived black collegiate athletes as having higher pain tolerance than white athletes.[116] A study by University of Toronto and Ohio State University economists found substantial evidence of racial discrimination against black veterans in terms of medical treatment and awarding of disability pensions in the late 19th and early 20th century; the discrimination was substantial enough to account for nearly the entire black-white mortality gap in the period.[117]

A 2018 ProPublica analysis found that African Americans and Native Americans were underrepresented in clinical trials for new drugs. Fewer than 5% of patients were African-American, even though they make up 13.4% of the total US population. African-Americans were even underrepresented in trials involving drugs intended for diseases that disproportionately affect African-Americans. As a result, African-Americans who had exhausted all other treatments have weaker access to experimental treatments.[118]

Housing and landEdit

A 2014 meta-analysis found extensive evidence of racial discrimination in the American housing market.[2] Minority applicants for housing needed to make many more enquiries to view properties.[2] Geographical steering of African-Americans in US housing remains significant.[2] A 2003 study found "evidence that agents interpret an initial housing request as an indication of a customer's preferences, but also are more likely to withhold a house from all customers when it is in an integrated suburban neighborhood (redlining). Moreover, agents' marketing efforts increase with asking price for white, but not for black, customers; blacks are more likely than whites to see houses in suburban, integrated areas (steering); and the houses agents show are more likely to deviate from the initial request when the customer is black than when the customer is white. These three findings are consistent with the possibility that agents act upon the belief that some types of transactions are relatively unlikely for black customers (statistical discrimination)."[119] Historically, there was extensive and long-lasting racial discrimination against African-Americans in the housing and mortgage markets in the United States,[120] as well as against black farmers whose numbers declined massively in post-WWII America due to anti-black local and federal policy.[121] According to a 2019 analysis by University of Pittsburgh economists, blacks faced a two-fold penalty due to the racially segregated housing market: rental prices increased in blocks when they underwent racial transition whereas home values declined in neighborhoods that blacks moved into.[122]

A report by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development where the department sent African-Americans and whites to look at apartments found that African-Americans were shown fewer apartments to rent and houses for sale.[123] A 2017 study found that "that applications [for Airbnb housing] from guests with distinctively African American names are 16 percent less likely to be accepted relative to identical guests with distinctively white names."[124]

A 2017 paper by Troesken and Walsh found that pre-20th century cities "created and sustained residential segregation through private norms and vigilante activity." However, "when these private arrangements began to break down during the early 1900s" whites started "lobbying municipal governments for segregation ordinances." As a result, cities passed ordinances which "prohibited members of the majority racial group on a given city block from selling or renting property to members of another racial group" between 1909 and 1917.[125]

A 2017 study by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago economists found that the practice of redlining—the practice whereby banks discriminated against the inhabitants of certain neighborhoods—had a persistent adverse impact on the neighborhoods, with redlining affecting homeownership rates, home values and credit scores in 2010.[126][127] Since many African-Americans could not access conventional home loans, they had to turn to predatory lenders (who charged high interest rates).[127] Due to lower home ownership rates, slumlords were able to rent out apartments that would otherwise be owned.[127] A 2019 analysis estimated that predatory housing contracts targeting African-Americans in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s cost black families between $3 billion and $4 billion in wealth.[128]

A 2017 study in Research & Politics found that white supporters of Donald Trump became less likely to approve of federal housing assistance when they were shown an image of a black man.[129][130]

A 2018 study in the American Sociological Review found that housing market professionals (real estate agents, housing developers, mortgage appraisers and home value appraisers) held derogatory racial views about black and Latino individuals and neighborhoods whereas white individuals and neighborhoods were beneficiaries of widely shared, positive racial beliefs.[131]

A 2018 experimental study by University of Illinois and Duke University economists found that real estate agents and housing providers systematically recommended homes in neighborhoods with higher poverty rates, greater pollution, higher crime rates, fewer college educated families, and fewer skilled workers to minority individuals who had all the same characteristics as white individuals except ethnic differences.[132]

A 2018 study in the American Political Science Review found that white voters in areas which experienced massive African-American population growth between 1940 and 1960 were more likely to vote for California Proposition 14 (1964) which sought to enshrine legal protections for landlords and property owners who discriminated against "colored" buyers and renters.[133]

A 2018 study in the Journal of Politics found extensive evidence of discrimination against blacks and Hispanics in the New York City rental market.[134] A 2018 study in the journal Regional Science and Urban Economics found that there was discrimination against blacks and Arab males in the U.S. rental market.[135] A 2018 study in the Journal of Regional Science found that "black households pay more for identical housing in identical neighborhoods than their white counterparts... In neighborhoods with the smallest fraction white, the premium is about 0.6%. In neighborhoods with the largest fraction white, it is about 2.4%."[136]

Labor marketEdit

Several meta-analyses find extensive evidence of ethnic and racial discrimination in hiring in the American labor market.[2][3][4][137] A 2017 meta-analysis found "no change in the levels of discrimination against African Americans since 1989, although we do find some indication of declining discrimination against Latinos."[138] A 2016 meta-analysis of 738 correspondence tests – tests where identical CVs for stereotypically black and white names were sent to employers – in 43 separate studies conducted in OECD countries between 1990 and 2015 finds that there is extensive racial discrimination in hiring decisions in Europe and North America.[3] These correspondence tests showed that equivalent minority candidates need to send around 50% more applications to be invited for an interview than majority candidates.[3][139] A study that examine the job applications of actual people provided with identical résumés and similar interview training showed that African-American applicants with no criminal record were offered jobs at a rate as low as white applicants who had criminal records.[140] A 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research paper found evidence of racial bias in how CVs were evaluated.[141]

Research suggests that light-skinned African American women have higher salaries and greater job satisfaction than dark-skinned women.[142] Being "too black" has recently been acknowledged by the U.S. Federal courts in an employment discrimination case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In Etienne v. Spanish Lake Truck & Casino Plaza, LLC the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, determined that an employee who was told on several occasions that her manager thought she was "too black" to do various tasks, found that the issue of the employee's skin color rather than race itself, played a key role in an employer's decision to keep the employee from advancing.[143] A 2018 study found evidence suggesting discrimination towards immigrants with darker skin colors.[144]

A 2019 experimental study found that there was a bias against blacks, latinos and women in hirings of postdocs in the fields of biology and physics.[145][146]

A 2008 study found that black service providers receive lower tips than white service providers.[147] Research shows that "ban the box" (the removal of the check box asking job applicants if they have criminal records) leads employers to discriminate against young, black low-skilled applicants, possibly because employers simply assume these applicants have checkered pasts when they are not able to confirm it.[148]


A 2017 report by Travis L. Dixon (of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) found that major media outlets tended to portray black families as dysfunctional and dependent while white families were portrayed as stable. These portrayals may give the impression that poverty and welfare are primarily black issues. According to Dixon, this can reduce public support for social safety programs and lead to stricter welfare requirements.[149][150] A 2018 study found that media portrayals of Muslims were substantially more negative than for other religious groups (even when controlling for relevant factors).[151]

African Americans possessing lighter skin complexion and "European features," such as lighter eyes, and smaller noses and lips have more opportunities in the media industry. For example, film producers hire lighter-skinned African Americans more often, television producers choose lighter skinned cast members, and magazine editors choose African American models that resemble European features.[152] A content analysis conducted by Scott and Neptune (1997) shows that less than one percent of advertisements in major magazines featured African American models. When African Americans did appear in advertisements they were mainly portrayed as athletes, entertainers or unskilled laborers. In addition, seventy percent of the advertisements that features animal print included African American women. Animal print reinforces the stereotypes that African Americans are animalistic in nature, sexually active, less educated, have lower income, and extremely concerned with personal appearances.[153] Concerning African American males in the media, darker skinned men are more likely to be portrayed as violent or more threatening, influencing the public perception of African American men. Since dark-skinned males are more likely to be linked to crime and misconduct, many people develop preconceived notions about the characteristics of black men.[154]

Colorism was and still is very much evident in the media. An example of this is shown in the minstrel shows that were popular during and after slavery. Minstrel shows were a very popular form of theater that involved white and black people in black face portraying black people while doing demeaning things. The actors painted their faces with black paint to and over lined their lips with bright red lipstick to exaggerate and make fun of black people.[155] When minstrel shows died out and television became popular, black actors were rarely hired and when they were, they had very specific roles. These roles included being servants, slaves, idiots, and criminals.[156] White people wanted to keep this narrative going that black people were forever in debt to them because they essentially rescued blacks from themselves and made them humans instead of savages. This is seen in the "mammy" role that black women often played. The highlights of this role included black women being the loyal servant to the master and taking care of and loving his kids more than her own. Even though black people were allowed to be on TV, they still couldn't be too black. They had to pass the color tests and if they were dark, they were usually playing a humiliating role. That trend is something that follows into present day especially for women.[citation needed] There is a huge absence of dark black women in the media and when they are shown, they are typically portraying the angry black woman stereotype but have a light skinned character to balance them out. Darker women are rarely the protagonist that isn't troubled by drugs, or caught up in the legal system.


A 2011 study found that white state legislators of both political parties were less likely to respond to constituents with African-American names.[157] A 2013 study found that in response to e-mail correspondence from a putatively black alias, "nonblack legislators were markedly less likely to respond when their political incentives to do so were diminished, black legislators typically continued to respond even when doing so promised little political reward. Black legislators thus appear substantially more intrinsically motivated to advance blacks' interests."[158]

Some research suggests that white voters' voting behavior is motivated by racial threat. A 2016 study, for instance, found that white Chicago voters' turnout decreased when public housing was reconstructed and 25,000 African Americans displaced. This suggest that white voters' turnout decreased due to not living in proximity to African-Americans.[159]

Voter ID laws have brought on accusations of racial discrimination. In a 2014 review by the Government Accountability Office of the academic literature, three studies out of five found that voter ID laws reduced minority turnout whereas two studies found no significant impact.[160] Disparate impact may also be reflected in access to information about voter ID laws. A 2015 experimental study found that election officials queried about voter ID laws are more likely to respond to emails from a non-Latino white name (70.5% response rate) than a Latino name (64.8% response rate), though response accuracy was similar across groups.[161] Studies have also analyzed racial differences in ID requests rates. A 2012 study in the city of Boston found that black and Hispanic voters were more likely to be asked for ID during the 2008 election. According to exit polls, 23% of whites, 33% of blacks, and 38% of Hispanics were asked for ID, though this effect is partially attributed to black and Hispanics preferring non-peak voting hours when election officials inspected a greater portion of IDs. Precinct differences also confound the data as black and Hispanic voters tended to vote at black and Hispanic-majority precincts.[162] A 2010 study of the 2006 midterm election in New Mexico found that Hispanics were more likely to incur ID requests while early voters, women, and non-Hispanics were less likely to incur requests.[163] A 2009 study of the 2006 midterm election nationwide found that 47% of white voters reported being asked to show photo identification at the polls, compared with 54% of Hispanics and 55% of African Americans."[164] Very few were however denied the vote as a result of voter identification requests.[164] A 2015 study found that turnout among blacks in Georgia was generally higher since the state began enforcing its strict voter ID law.[165] A 2016 study by University of California, San Diego researchers found that voter ID laws "have a differentially negative impact on the turnout of Hispanics, Blacks, and mixed-race Americans in primaries and general elections."[166]

Research by University of Oxford economist Evan Soltas and Stanford political scientist David Broockman suggests that voters act upon racially discriminatory tastes.[167] A 2018 study in Public Opinion Quarterly found that whites, in particular those who had racial resentment, largely attributed Obama's success among African-Americans to his race, and not his characteristics as a candidate and the political preferences of African-Americans.[168] A 2018 study in the journal American Politics Research found that white voters tended to misperceive political candidates from racial minorities as being more ideologically extreme than objective indicators would suggest; this adversely affected the electoral chances for those candidates.[169] A 2018 study in the Journal of Politics found that "when a white candidate makes vague statements, many [nonblack] voters project their own policy positions onto the candidate, increasing support for the candidate. But they are less likely to extend black candidates the same courtesy... In fact, black male candidates who make ambiguous statements are actually punished for doing so by racially prejudiced voters."[170]

A 2018 study found evidence of racial-motivated reasoning as voters assessed President Barack Obama's economic performance. The study found that "Whites attributed more responsibility to Obama under negative economic conditions (i.e., blame) than positive economic conditions (i.e., credit)... Whites attributed equal responsibility to the President and governors for negative economic conditions, but gave more responsibility to governors than Obama for positive conditions. Whites also gave governors more responsibility for state improvements than they gave Obama for national ones."[171]

A 2018 study examining "all 24 African American challengers (non-incumbents) from 2000 to 2014 to white challengers from the same party running in the same state for the same office around the same time" found "that white challengers are about three times more likely to win and receive about 13 percentage points more support among white voters. These estimates hold when controlling for a number of potential confounding factors and when employing several statistical matching estimators."[172]

A 2019 study found that whites are less supportive of welfare when they are told that blacks are the majority of recipients (as opposed to whites).[173] However, when informed that most welfare recipients eventually gain jobs and leave the welfare program, this racial bias disappears.[173]

An analysis by MIT political scientist Regina Bateson found that Americans engage in strategic discrimination against racial minority candidates out of a belief that they are less electable than white male candidates: "In the abstract, Americans consider white men more "electable" than equally qualified black and female candidates. Additionally, concerns about winning the votes of white men can cause voters to rate black and female Democratic candidates as less capable of beating Donald Trump in 2020."[174]

A 2019 paper found, using smartphone data, that voters in predominantly black neighborhoods waited far longer at polling places than voters in white neighborhoods.[175]


Studies have shown that due to societal influences, people associate beauty with lighter skin. This is especially evident in children.[176] This belief has led dark-skinned children to feel inadequate in who they are and inferior when compared to people with lighter skin. African American women believe they would have better luck dating if they were of lighter skin especially when dating African American men.[177]


A 2018 study found evidence that nonblack voters in Heisman Trophy voting were biased against nonblack players.[178]

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