The Unceasing Significance of Colorism: Empirical Consequences and Theoretical Implications

Hybrid Event

Ellis Monk is a Professor of Sociology at Harvard University and Visiting Faculty Researcher at Google. His award-winning research focuses on the comparative examination of social inequality, especially with respect to race/ethnicity. By deeply engaging with issues of measurement and methodology, it examines the complex relationships between social categories and social inequality; and extends into topics such as social demography, health, aging, race/ethnicity & technology, social psychology, and the sociology of the body.

His current research includes a project on race, skin tone, artificial intelligence, and machine learning; and as a recent recipient of the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, a project on race, skin tone, medical devices, and health disparities. For many decades now, social scientists have documented immense ethnoracial inequalities in the United States.

Much of this work is rooted in comparing the life chances, trajectories, and outcomes of African Americans to White Americans. From health to wealth and nearly every measure of well-being, success, and thriving one can find, White Americans remain ahead of Black Americans. What this focus on ethnoracial inequality between “groups” obscures, however, is long-standing skin tone inequality within groups.

In this talk, Professor Monk provides an overview of key empirical findings on colourism that highlight colourism’s wide-ranging consequences from the labour market to health disparities and technology; and discuss important theoretical implications derived from abstracting the key principles of colourism research, which urge us to consider a different approach to studying social inequality and stratification, more generally, which he refers to as the Infracategorical Model of Inequality.

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