Date of Conferral







Michelle Ross


Colorism, or in-group bias based on skin tone, is a persistent phenomenon within the African American community that often shapes family dynamics and results in significant negative psychosocial effects for African Americans. Researchers have examined colorism primarily as it pertains to mothers' transmission of these messages, but little research exists regarding the paternal role. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the messages fathers transmit to their daughters regarding skin tone, while comparing these messages to those transmitted to fathers in their childhood. Twelve African American men, selected through purposive sampling, participated in individual semistructured interviews. Their responses were analyzed using thematic analysis based on colorism theory. Themes included teachings to daughter, skin tone messages, influence, hard work, attractiveness, love, treatment, and trophies. Findings indicated that fathers provided a protective role in negative colorism messages for daughters, particularly those with darker skin tones. Implications for positive social change include increased understanding of the protective paternal role in transmitting skin tone messages and the potential ability for stakeholders to make inroads to eradicate the negative effects of colorism within the African American family using the protective role of fathers.