Colorism Trauma among Black Southern Women: A Grounded Theory Study

Kathleen Marie Schmid Floyd, Fordham University


This dissertation explores the influence of Colorism on 14 Black Southern women. The objective of this qualitative study was to help clinicians and researchers better understand how Colorism affects women of color and what participants felt was needed to help them heal from the trauma caused by Colorism. Interviews were conducted with seven women in one cohort, ages 24 to 44, and seven women in a second cohort, ages 45 to 81, who had varying skin tones that primarily ranged from medium to very dark, based upon the Beale-Spencer Skin Tone Scale. Audio recordings of interviews were transcribed and analyzed, and 13 Selective Codes or significant themes were identified. Significant differences were found between the older and younger cohorts. Interview data suggests that these differences may be attributed to the secure attachment, nurtured self-efficacy, and “inoculation” of children and youth, in psychological terms (McGuire, 1961), which resulted in the older cohort becoming resistant to and rejecting the influence of Colorism and other forms of prejudice. As a result, the older cohort achieved far more life success than the younger cohort. The Emergent Psychological Theory posits that reducing prejudice-related Colorism and Racism, and Poverty requires a Safety Net consisting of an integrated program that incorporates the following elements: “Inoculation;’ Educational Support; Parental Support; Psychological, Educational, Career Counseling, and Assessment services; Community Outreach; and Social Work support regarding housing and food security, health care, nutrition, activities of daily living, budgeting, credit, finance, and tacit knowledge. Study limitations are noted; future research directions are presented, and clinical implications are discussed.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology|Social psychology|Womens studies|Black studies

Recommended Citation

Schmid Floyd, Kathleen Marie, "Colorism Trauma among Black Southern Women: A Grounded Theory Study" (2022). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28970824.