Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dark blacks more conservative and marginally more Republican than light blacks

Different black definitions of justice
A little while back Steve Sailer discussed the observation that while the GOP is the de facto white party, top black Republicans tend to be ebony dark (Ben Carson, Herman Cain, Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, JC Watts), while top black Democrats are often a paler shade of black (Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Valeria Jarrett, Charlie Rangel).

In 2012 and 2014, the GSS asked interviewers to rate the skin tone of survey participants on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lightest and 10 the darkest. While virtually all self-identified white respondents were gauged to be on the light side of the spectrum, blacks were distributed almost evenly on the light (1-5) and dark (6-10) ends, with 46.8% of blacks assessed as light-skinned and 53.2% as dark-skinned. The total black sample was 576. So the question is contemporarily relevant and conveniently designed to evaluate how well the observation holds up at the street level.

The following graph shows the distribution of partisan affiliations among light- and dark-skinned blacks:

The differences are marginal, and its slim pickings among self-identified black Republicans of any skin tone. That said, among the handful of black Republicans in existence, dark-skinned blacks are 35% more likely to self-identify as Republican than light-skinned blacks are. Maybe the GOP brain trust, given ten blacks in the entire country to choose from, simply promotes the five blackest to maximize the authenticity of its perpetually futile outreach!

Dark-skinned blacks are noticeably more conservative and less liberal than light-skinned blacks are. The following graph shows the distribution of political orientations among light- and dark-skinned blacks:

Tribal loyalties aside--which may motivate light-skinned blacks worried about not being perceived as black enough to compensate by vociferously and emphatically embracing their blackness and, by extension, their Democratic party affiliation more than dark-skinned blacks--dark-skinned blacks may well be more likely to find kindred spirits among white political conservatives than light-skinned blacks are.

GSS variables used: RATETONE(1-5)(6-10), RACECEN1(2), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7), PARTYID(0-1)(2-4)(5-6)

++Addition++In the comments, Dan points to before-and-afters of Al Sharpton and David Dinkins:

Lipids and melanin, begone!

Are there any black conservatives/Republicans who have intentionally lightened their skin? Or does bucking the political expectation and being a black conservative/Republican mean generally not conforming to any black norms, stated or unstated?


Dan said...

Clarence Thomas has been married to the white Virginia Thomas for 28 years, so there's that.

I think the left has had some very black national figures. Jesse Jackson and Cynthia McKinney come to mind. Jesse Jackson ran for the Dem nomination in 1984 and 1988. He finished 3rd in '84 and 2nd in '88.

To further complicate things, skin lightening is a thing. I can imagine that black Republicans, who clearly don't give a fig about conforming anyway, would be less likely to go there.

Dan said...

Here's Al Sharpton before and after:



Here's former New York mayor David Dinkins before and after:



Audacious Epigone said...


Great point with regards to the elites. Thanks for the convenient comparative photos. It's worth bringing them into a single spot. I'll do that today.

How big is skin lightening among ordinary blacks? I've not known anyone who has done it though I can think of a few black women I've heard talk about it negatively (which means they've probably have some personal contact with people who have lightened their skin). Sammy Sosa and Michael Jackson catch some black grief for it, too. Of course public censuring doesn't necessarily tell us anything about personal desire.

ADog said...

Sharpton looks like a creature from a nightmare. *shudder*

Dan said...

I suspect that it is very common... Rihanna and Beyoncé come to mind.

I think as long as its not 20 shades or it happens over a period of time, we tend not to pay attention. For example I have seen no mention of Dinkins or Sharpton lightening on the Interwebs; they are just ones I've noticed.

Dan said...

James Earl Jones...



And from field of dreams...


He's always been lighter skinned, but looking kind of pink lately. I wasn't even looking, but just saw recent pic in another context. I'm am sure I will start noticing this everywhere now.

It ought to be an Internet meme! Would be awesome!

Dan said...

Actually, it was because of the '#BoycottStarWarsVII' story that I noticed. The story was like, remember how Darth Vader was played by James Earl Jones, pictured here?

Lo and behold, there he is, white as a Swede. But nobody notices THAT!

It is kind of funny, but also lonely, that most everyone is blind to all the greatest jokes in the world.

Audacious Epigone said...


I haven't seen any of the Star Wars movies (I know, I know), so make sure I'm tracking this correctly: There is a movement to boycott the seventh installment because the hero is now black, and the response to that is that originally Darth Vader was black so it's not like inserting black characters into the Star Wars universe is a novel thing.

If that's it, the meme creates itself. I'll definitely do it. Too easy!

Dan said...

Well the 'boycott movement' was apparently a few teenagers on 4Chan who thought it would be cool to troll America. They understood very well that the leftist media would make it go viral.

Done and done.

Dan said...

The joke is that everybody knows that Star Wars has always had black characters. It's not just James Earl Jones. Billy Dee Williams was a hero as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back (1980). He is an even bigger hero in Return of the Jedi (1983). Samuel L. Jackson was a hero in all three of the newer Star Wars movies as Jedi Master Mace Windu.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the big change in moderates, which I would guess reflects lower political engagement. Light "blacks" may also often be biracial.