Colorism: The Relationship between Latino/a Self-Perceived Skin Color and Assimilation

The purpose of this research is to study the effects of self-perceived skin color on assimilatory attitudes of U.S. Latinos/as of Mexican descent. This study examines how preferential treatment based on skin color shapes the experiences of Hispanic immigrants and U.S. Latinos/as. This differential treatment, known as colorism, creates divisions within the Latino/a community, stigma, and disadvantages to some, while to others it creates opportunities and access. Segmented Assimilation and Tri-Racial System theories are used to frame this study. Data utilized in the research portion of this study was obtained from the Latino National Survey (LNS) 2006 collected by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). The desired outcome of this thesis is to highlight the impact of colorism upon U.S. Latinos/as and to bring greater understanding of this important issue. This research finds that self perceived skin color significantly affects the views of U.S. Latinos/as of Mexican descent on attitudes of assimilation, meritocracy and Americanism. In addition, it finds no support for a direct relationship between self perceived skin color and perceiving Whiteness as an advantage.