Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dustin Berna

Second Advisor

Judith McKay

Third Advisor

Jason J. Campbell


This dissertation study was conducted in order to examine and gain an insight on two topics that are considered to be highly under researched: American historically black fraternities and sororities and colorism within the back American community. The purpose of the study was to examine the impact that colorism has had on black American collegiate Greek letter organizations. Using the qualitative phenomenological approach, 18 graduate or alumni members, two from each of the nine historically black Greek letter organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellanic Council were interviewed using open ended questions to see what impact (if any) colorism has had on historically black fraternities and sororities. During the interviews the following five major themes emerged: discriminatory practices between black Americans, stereotyping black Greek letter organizations, stereotyping skin tones, colorism as a part of American history, and colorism as being permanently a part of the black American community. The following theories were also explored during the study: Social Identity Theory, Double Consciousness, Primary Identification Theory, and Conflict Caused by Colorism, to further see what impact colorism had on historically black fraternities and sororities. Through these five themes and theories, it was found that colorism has had and continues to have a significant impact on not only members of historically black fraternities and sororities, but also that of members of the black American community as a whole.

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