The Skin You are In: Colorism in the Black Community (Book Study Questions)

Welcome to the Skin You Are In Book Study which is dedicated to helping people discuss and overcome the lasting affects of Colorism.

Why should we talk about Colorism?

The book, The Skin You are In: Colorism in the Black Community  offers an easy-to-understand overview of the history of Colorism, illustrates the long-lasting impact this type of microaggressions has on individuals of color, and provides insights to counteracting the effect for future generations. This book provides a research-based analysis of how colorism effects adults today, guides readers through a shift in mindset towards characterizing it as an unspoken trauma and provokes readers to commit to helping others help to lessen its impact on people of color. 

In a world where so much focus is placed on race. I challenge you to take it a step further. Take a look at the interactions within a race. The interactions between individuals that belong to a specific race but possess different tones or shades of skin. These interactions sometimes become heated and even discriminatory. 

Colorism’s origin dates back to the early days of slavery when jobs were determined based on the color of an individual’s skin.  Most people do not think that Colorism exist today, but the reality is that it has been around for centuries, occurs many times a day, and its effects last for many years. This book will help any organization which recognizes the need to educate their staff about colorism and its effects on African Americans at both ends of the color spectrum. Despite what many may believe, Colorism still exists today.

Colorism: Why should it be considered an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE)?

Can you imagine being judged by your family, your friends, your colleagues, and the world solely on the color of your skin? If you are like me, you can. For as long as I can remember, some people in my family would say things such as “you better marry a light skinned woman so you can have pretty children“. I am much older now, but thoughts like this still creep in at the oddest times and have for over thirty years. I have been able to overcome the long-lasting effects of the Colorism experiences throughout my life. However, as I conducted my doctoral research on this topic, I found that…

When I speak with many of my friends and colleagues from across the country the scars of their Colorism experiences still permeate through their thoughts, decisions, and actions daily.

Colorism as an “unspoken” ACE

According to the Center for Disease Control, an Adverse Childhood Experience is defined as potentially traumatic events that occur when children are between 0-17 years of age. These microaggressions include experiences which undermine a child’s sense of safety, stability, and bonding. When children are called black, tar baby, high yellow, not black enough daily by those who are closest to them. It is traumatic, it warps their sense of self, misshapes their view of the world, and it has lasting affects on their ability to bond. If that does not fit the definition of an Adverse Childhood Experience, ACE, I’m not sure what type of trauma does?

An Intricate Web of Learned Behavior Accepted as the Norm

Yoshino (2008) noted in his research, it was more than just the race an individual was born into, it was also how an individual viewed the race in which they were born. The author remarked, individuals emulated what they had observed as characteristics of their race. The author stated when individuals saw different societal interactions with race and skin tone the memories of those interactions weaved a very intricate web in the individual’s life. To read more on this topic, visit


Dr. Frederick White discusses making black history count with Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings and Feliia Usher, FairFax Principal of the Year, and host Dr. Nancy Sulla.

The Skin You are In: Colorism in the Black Community (#BookCampPD-March 2021)-Book Study Questions

Find more questions for your school reads and discusses the implications noted within the book at:

Educator Reflection Tips #212: What is the role of feedback in teacher growth and improved instruction?

A Message for Leaders… As a school leader, one of your primary responsibilities is to ensure that your teachers are growing and improving in their instructional practices. In order to achieve this, it is essential to provide teachers with regular and effective feedback. Why feedback? Feedback is a critical component of teacher growth and instructional…

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.