My research centers primarily on colorism and the cognitive process behind gendered colorism. Specifically, I investigate how racial discrimination operates at the intersection of gender and skin-tone. My research also focuses on how institutions, policies, and people, consciously and not, maintain white supremacy.
Colorism & Gender
Colorism is a form of discrimination that targets darker-skinned individuals and privileges light-skinned individuals in a racial group (Hunter, 2007). This work aims to understand how skin tone can influence perceptions of Black women and men. In my dissertation research, I am examining the cognitive process behind gendered colorism, expanding existing knowledge by examining 1) how gendered domains affect how prototypical or not Black women are perceived as members of their social in-groups, 2) how manipulating the salience of gender intensifies gendered colorism, and 3) the manifestation of gendered colorism in pain perception. This is a domain in which stereotypes of race and gender have been found to influence healthcare providers’ approaches toward pain management, and is an area of serious concern for Black Americans, who are consistently undertreated for pain.
Police Violence in the Media
I examine the impact of viewing police violence against Black victims in the media. Despite the disproportionate number of killings of Black Americans by police, White Americans remain mixed on police reform. These studies consider how bearing witness to the increasing number of police shootings displayed on social media and news stations might affect White Americans’ attitudes on police reform and empathy for the victims. We particularly examine circumstances under which White Americans feel empathy after bearing witness to police shootings. In this work, we have found that for participants high in Symbolic Racism, which we use as a measure of the denial of the systemic nature of racism, bearing witness to police brutality does not lead to increased empathy and support for social change.
Institutional & Cultural Maintenance of White Supremacy
In several lines of this work, I examine the impact of using white-centered racial perspectives on conceptions and perceptions of racism in U.S. society, methods and interpretation of research within psychology, and how racialized ideas embedded in society are continually perpetuated largely by whites in primarily white-controlled institutions. In this line of work, I have written using this perspective in the realm of healthcare and the tendency of psychology to focus on individual biases as opposed to systems of oppression when discussing racism. I also examine the use of euphemisms and/or highly individualized terms in place of racism in journalism, psychological research, and public statements, and how avoiding direct terminology for racism could be minimizing the impact of racism on people of color.