Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Wendy Luttrell

Subject Categories

Art Practice | Civic and Community Engagement | Early Childhood Education | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social Justice


#colorism #india #antibias #earlychildhood #visualresearch #visualsociology #criticalpedagogy


DuBois’ “problem of the color line” has persisted in the 21st century, and “dark children” continue to face discrimination and are disproportionately impacted in school systems. Renewed interest in origin stories and practices of colorism in Black and other communities of color in the United States and an emerging global colorism frame point to shared experiences of children of color in the public school system. Researchers have suggested that colorism experiences are comparable across ethnic groups in the United States and, arguably, in India, where Islamophobia and casteism intersect with colorism, and manifest in discriminatory practices in schools. Using participatory visual research and critical childhood studies frameworks, this study asks, How are children of color, specifically second-graders, experiencing, perceiving, imagining, negotiating, articulating, resisting, and reshaping colorism in the classroom or their homes, regardless of their different racial backgrounds? Further, what methodologies invite participant agency and engage them on their terms? I elicited and analyzed 12 line drawings made by second-graders during a skin color art-making workshop in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) in India. The image narratives demonstrate second-graders’ abilities to grasp the multifarious frequencies, complexities, and consequences of colorism. These visual narrativizations tell us that providing good information to children while offering a Freirean “problem-posing” model is an efficacious way to raise critically conscious skin color conversations. The analysis further shows that not only are children able to contextualize how colorist behaviors operate within their larger sociocultural environment but they are also ready to scrutinize, interrogate, and challenge colorist behaviors.

This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Saturday, June 01, 2024

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