Colorism as a Salient Space for Understanding in Teacher Preparation

Ebony O. McGee, Adam Alvarez, H. Richard Milner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In this article, we posit the salience of colorism as an important aspect of race in the knowledge construction and preparation of teachers. Although many more teacher education programs across the United States have begun to infuse aspects of race into their curricula, there is sparse literature about the role of colorism in teacher preparation and its potential impact. This article explicitly focuses on darker-skinned students, who experience trauma differently from lighter-skinned students. This research chronicles the particular experiences of African American female students who endure deep-seated biases and attitudes regarding their skin color, both outside of and within school environments. We argue that teacher education programs should include learning opportunities on construction of race as a phenotype (the physical construction of skin tone, hair texture, facial features, and body physique) as an influence on the thinking, beliefs, and consequent practices of teachers in P–12 classrooms. The article concludes with an explicit recommendation for teacher education programs to prioritize colorism in the preparation of teachers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-79
Number of pages11
JournalTheory into Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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