Current Students: Student Profiles

Student Profiles: Brittany Botts, C'2015

Brittany Botts Explores Issue of Colorism on HBCU Campuses

Brittany Botts, C’2015, will spend her summer exploring the issue of light-skinned women on historically Black colleges and university campuses as part of her participation in the summer Humanities Institute at the Bunche Center for African-American Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Botts’ research will specifically examine the intersection of light-skinned women’s social capital on campus and their performance of Blackness in relation to lightness. “I am interested in exploring an idea of light privilege; the way in which having light skin as a female on an HBCU campus impacts one’s social experience,” said Botts, a sociology and anthropology major, and one of six students in the program.

“I seek to use a modern-day approach to the colorist conversation, which for so long has been primarily focused on the dark-skinned woman’s point of view. My research argues that this perspective is valid and important, however must be considered in conversation with light skinned women as well in order to holistically understand the issue of the color complex and how it affects Black women today.”

Botts plans to use her experiences in Cape Town, South Africa and Accra, Ghana, to compare perceptions of light-skin abroad to perceptions of light skin in America. The program matches HBCU students with faculty mentors who assist in development of a research topic. It also introduces students to African-American studies on a graduate level.

Through rigorous course selections ranging from African-American music to African-American art and literature, students are expected to produce original knowledge based on the information gathered through course material. At the end of the program, Botts will complete a research paper and present it at a research conference attended by other UCLA summer research fellows.