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Pew Study Finds Colorism Issue for Darker Skinned Hispanics

The non-partisan Pew Research Center recently surveyed 3,375 Hispanic adults, asking them how they think their skin color has impacted their daily lives. The Center has shared the results of that survey. 62% of those individuals surveyed said having darker skin hurt their ability to move ahead in the United States, while 59% said having lighter skin helped Hispanic individuals get ahead.

Discrimination against individuals based on color is prohibited by Title VII. It is not necessarily the same discrimination as racism, which is directed at members of a racial or ethnic group based on their origin. Colorism may reflect preferences for lighter skin over darker skin within an ethnic or racial group. In its survey, Pew found Hispanic adults with darker skin were more likely to experience a discriminatory incident, with the most-reported such incident “being treated as if they were not smart.”

Experts interviewed by ABC News and NPR regarding this report noted that “those who are closer to ‘whiteness’–the more western European phenotypes one possesses—the more likely that individual is to be privileged while also less likely to be discriminated against.” This discrimination impacts “educational opportunities, career paths and options for health care.” These experts also point to the way people with darker skin are portrayed in movies and TV, noting that darker Latinos are “overrepresented in background roles or as gangsters, while lighter ones are more likely to have prominent roles.”