Revisiting the Cost of Skin Color in African American Adolescents

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Patricia LOUIE, University of Toronto, Canada
Recent research on skin tone and health have found that African Americans with darker skin have worse physical and mental health than African Americans with lighter skin. Does skin tone have the same impact on the health of African American adolescents? If skin tone is an embodied social status, with darker skinned African American adults experiencing greater inequality relative to lighter skinned African American adults, then we should observe similar patterns of health in adolescent populations. Using data from the National Survey of American Life: Adolescent Supplement, this paper investigates whether the impact of skin tone on health for African American adolescents mirror the results previously observed in adult populations. Findings indicate that skin tone is not significantly related to CESD depression, self-rated health, and self-rated mental health, a challenge to the skin tone patterning of health in the NSAL adult sample. These results are cautiously interpreted as suggesting that exposure time matters and that the impact of discrimination accumulates throughout the life course, perhaps gaining salience at different points in the life course. Results are discussed in terms of the life course patterning of health that are tied to larger cumulative disadvantages.