The role of colorism in explaining African American females' suspension risk. Academic Article uri icon


  • African American female students' elevated suspension risk has received national attention. Despite a number of studies documenting racial/ethnic disparities in African American females' school suspension risk, few investigations have attempted to explain why these disparities occur. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of colorism in explaining suspension risk using a nationally representative sample of adolescent females. Controlling for individual- and school-level characteristics associated with school discipline such as student-teacher relationships, prior discipline history, school size and type, the results indicate that colorism was a significant predictor of school suspension risk. African American female adolescents with darker complexions were almost twice as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension as their White female peers. This finding was not found for African American female students with lighter skin complexions. Implications for adopting a colorist framework for understanding school discipline outcomes and future research for advancing the field in this area are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record

published proceedings

  • Sch Psychol Q

altmetric score

  • 8.83

author list (cited authors)

  • Blake, J. J., Keith, V. M., Luo, W., Le, H., & Salter, P.

citation count

  • 44

complete list of authors

  • Blake, Jamilia J||Keith, Verna M||Luo, Wen||Le, Huong||Salter, Phia

publication date

  • March 2017