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Revisiting "Color Names and Color Notions": A Contemporary Examination of the Language and Attitudes of Skin Color Among Young Black Women

JeffriAnne Wilder
Journal of Black Studies
Vol. 41, No. 1 (SEPTEMBER 2010), pp. 184-206
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25704101
Page Count: 23
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Revisiting "Color Names and Color Notions": A Contemporary Examination of the Language and Attitudes of Skin Color Among Young Black Women
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Abstract

Employing the pioneering work of Charles Parrish as a basis of comparison, this study serves as a follow-up to "Color Names and Color Notions" by deconstructing the contemporary language and attitudes surrounding skin color. Nine focus groups with 58 black women between the ages of 18 and 25 reveal that the color names and color notions offered were consistent with many of the terms and stereotypes that Parrish found, thereby indicating that there has been no change in colorist ideology among African Americans. Participants discussed 40 color names regularly employed to describe light, medium, and dark skin tones. The terms and attitudes associated with light skin tones were generally negative; conversely, the terms and attitudes associated with dark skin tones were derogatory. The language and beliefs connected to medium skin tones indicate that colorism operates as a three-tiered structure rather than the traditionally situated binary paradigm.

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