Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Robert Anderson

Second Advisor

Caley Johnson, Ph.D.


As the world moves into a perceived post-racial era, it is important to acknowledge and understand the existing presence and strength of white supremacy. While outright expressions of racism become less acceptable, people of color continue to face discrimination in multiple facets of their lives. One way to preserve and strengthen white supremacy in the modern age is through color-based discrimination or colorism. Across the globe, people of a lighter complexion, or those in closer proximity to whiteness, experience privileges and better treatment than those of a darker complexion. My thesis aims to argue that colorism in the modern age is a tool of white supremacy by looking at colorism in the United States and Puerto Rico. These case studies function to show how colorism has been used as a tool of white supremacy in the modern age. By looking at these two countries, I aim to analyze the detrimental nature of colorism and white supremacy in societies with different racial classification systems and views on race to show that it is a global phenomenon. Within the case studies, I looked at the colonial influence, history, demographics, racial classification systems, legislation, and presence of white supremacy in each respective country across their histories and into the present day. I found that regardless of the perceived importance of race, colorism has had a significant impact on the way that people of color see themselves and others. It causes tension and division within racial groups and helps white supremacy thrive on a subtle, largely unchallenged level.