The cost of color: Skin color, discrimination, and health among African-Americans

Ellis P. Monk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


In this study, the author uses a nationally representative survey to examine the relationship(s) between skin tone, discrimination, and health among African-Americans. He finds that skin tone is a significant predictor of multiple forms of perceived discrimination (including perceived skin color discrimination from whites and blacks) and, in turn, these forms of perceived discrimination are significant predictors of key health outcomes, such as depression and self-rated mental and physical health. Intraracial health differences related to skin tone (and discrimination) often rival or even exceed disparities between blacks and whites as a whole. The author also finds that selfreported skin tone, conceptualized as a form of embodied social status, is a stronger predictor of perceived discrimination than interviewerrated skin tone. He discusses the implications of these findings for the study of ethnoracial health disparities and highlights the utility of cognitive andmultidimensional approaches to ethnoracial and social inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-444
Number of pages49
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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