The Significance of Color Remains: A Study of Life Chances, Mate Selection, and Ethnic Consciousness Among Black Americans
Using data from the National Survey of Black Americans, a national probability sample of black adults interviewed in 1980 (N-2,107), we find that blacks with lighter skin have higher socioeconomic status, have spouses higher in socioeconomic status, and have lower black consciousness than those with dark skin. Only the correlations of skin color with black consciousness variables are eliminated when we control for respondent's age, gender, and current and background socioeconomic status. We also find the impact of skin color on socioeconomic status among black Americans to be as great as the impact of race (black-white) on socioeconomic status in American society. We detect little evidence that the association between skin color and socioeconomic status changed during the 30-year period between 1950 and 1980. The association between skin color and life chances appears to be an aspect of black life in America that persists in spite of many social, political, and cultural changes that have affected black Americans in the present century.