Race and Social Problems

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 290–298 | Cite as

Coloring Racial Fluidity: How Skin Tone Shapes Multiracial Adolescents’ Racial Identity Changes

  • Robert L. ReeceEmail author


Research on racial fluidity has become increasingly common as researchers seek to understand the ways and reasons people change their racial identifications and/or are perceived differently over time and across contexts. Concurrently, researchers have deepened their investigations of the attitudinal and identity aspects of “color,” that is the ways that people’s racial and political attitudes vary based on skin tone among members of the same racial group, particularly black Americans. This paper attempts to blend research on racial fluidity and color into an exploration of adolescent racial identity formation. I examine the effect skin tone on the likelihood and type of racial identity change among multiracial black adolescents as they transition into adulthood. My results reveal that lighter skinned adolescents are more likely to change their identification to a non-black single race, while darker skinned adolescents are more likely to change their identification to black only.


Race/ethnicity Skin tone Racial fluidity Multiracial Colorism 



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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