A new study published in Social Currents concluded something that many Afro-Latinos have known their whole lives: Colorism, a bias toward lightness, compounds discrimination for racial minorities.
The research, which was administered by sociologist Lance Hannon and published in March, discovered that lighter-skinned Latinos and blacks are often perceived by whites to be smarter than their darker-skinned relatives and pals, even when all else is equal.
Hannon’s findings come from analyzing pre-existing data from the 2012 American National Election Study, in which researchers held face-to-face interviews with people from various backgrounds, political views and values from across the country.
Hannon, however, was more concerned with the interviewers than the respondents.
As part of the survey, researchers needed to list respondents' skin color on a scale of light to dark and then rate their intelligence on a scale of "very low" to "very high." Hannon took this data and studied the cases where the interviewers were white and the respondents were either black or Latino. There were a total of 223 cases.
Through this analysis, Hannon found that "African American and Latino respondents with the lightest skin are several times more likely to be seen by whites as intelligent compared with those with the darkest skin." He learned that skin tone had a larger influence on perceptions of intelligence than factors like educational background, income level or political and vocabulary understanding.
While research has, even if slightly, discussed colorism in the past, Hannon’s study provides us with further evidence of skin-related biases, and reminds black and Latinos that racism is experienced differently even among people of our own racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.