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The Nuances of Blackness: Race, Complexion and Mental Health

Verna M. Keith, Professor, Department of Sociology, Texas A & M University
When Feb 25, 2013
from 12:00 PM to 01:30 PM
Where Lucille Maurer Library, 1126 Taliaferro Hall
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Talk

Colorism, the privileging of light over dark complexion and Eurocentric facial features over Afrocentric facial features, has played a significant role in determining the economic, social, and psychological well-being of African Americans. Recently, two competing views have emerged regarding the continued significance of colorism with one suggesting that it has declined and the other suggesting that it is becoming more important as the U.S. becomes more multiracial. This study evaluates these two competing views as they relate to the mental health of African Americans. More specifically, using a race comparative framework, I examine whether black-white differences in mental health are consistent when complexion is considered and compare these findings to those yielded by other classifications of African Americans.

About the Speaker

Verna M. Keith

Verna M. Keith is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Race and Ethnic Studies Institute (RESI) at Texas A&M University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky and completed post-doctoral research at the University of Michigan. She has held faculty positions at Arizona State University and Florida State University. Her research focuses on how social hierarchy influences social, physical, and emotional well-being, including how race / ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic position are associated with increased risk of depression. Current projects investigate the effects of colorism (i.e., the privileging of light over dark skin complexion) and discrimination on mental health outcomes and substance abuse, the relative effects of subjective and objective social status on health, and the influence of neighborhood characteristics on biological markers of stress. Dr. Keith has authored several books including: In and Out of Our Right Minds: The Mental Health of African American Women and Skin Deep: How Race and Complexion Matter in the "Color Blind" Era.

Visit Professor Keith's webpage

This event is co-sponsored with the Department of African American Studies.

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