Colorism – Are We Putting a Band-aid On This Global Epidemic?: Counselor Steven Welch

Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Therapist Steven Welch joins us again to discuss the topic of Colorism. If you aren’t familiar with this term, let us be a part of your education about this global and long standing issue.

This will be Steven’s third show. He is one of our most downloaded guests and certainly keeps us on our toes. He is one of the guests where we keep Google handy during our interviews. He is thoughtful, thought provoking, and we can’t thank him enough for addressing the social issues he brings to light especially this topic. We’ve included the list of questions we covered and his researched answers.


The questions below are covered in much greater detail on the show:

1. What is colorism ?

Social and economic constructs that provides privilege based on skin color. Lighter skin being more privileged, darker skin less privileged.

2. Why do we need to know about colorism as mental health practitioners?

To determine to what degree color within a family or community impacts self identity of the client. It will add new dimension to the therapeutic process.

3. What are some examples of colorism in the media?

The movie The Cotton Club is an excellent example. Miss America Vanessa Williams is a light skinned African-American woman. Miss World 1972 was also very light skinned. Some of our most famed nursery rhymes and, of course, apartheid in South Africa.

4. What is the connection between colonialism and colorism?

When Europeans colonized lands of indigenous people of color, or through slave trade, the offspring were often afforded privilege or favoritism by the invading power into that culture. This pattern of social stratification was based on skin color with European aesthetics repeated around the world.

5. What are your automatic thoughts when you see a dark skinned black man?

Fear, sexual prowess, harm, inferior. Your bias can impact how you work with a client or neighbor. The result of this can impact the person of color’s self-esteem and value in the world.

6. How does colorism impact self-esteem?

May feed into feeling superior due to skin color, hair texture, facial features. The opposite if darker skin color, kinky hair, wider nose may feed into feelings of inferiority. Families of color might emphasize these biases as result of culturally Eurocentric belief constructs.

7. Additional types of examples of colorism in the media?

Commercials or TV shows may have a light skinned woman paired with a dark skinned man. Models who are black get significantly less work than white models or lighter skinned models. In print ads models or actors of color are often times made to appear lighter than they actually are.

(Ebony Magazine 1966. Are Negro Girls Getting Prettier?)

8. Where else is colorism practiced around the world?

Japan, India, Latin America, the Middle East and the Caribbean are some other places where colorism is practiced. Japan and India have colorism practices that predate colonial contact.

9. How is colorism expressed in a household?

Make a self-assessment. Identify your bias. what are your experiences with colorism? How does it affect your work and counter transference?

10. What are some resources to learn more about colorism?


Dark Girls 2012 by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry

Black in Latin America 2011 by Dr Louis Gates

Light Girls: the Oprah Winfrey Network


The Color Complex (revised) the Politics of Skin in the New Millennium 2013 by Kathy Rossell Cole, Midge Wilson, Ronald E Hall


Colorism: Iyalna Vanzant and Oprah Winfrey-the Oprah Winfrey Network


Imitation of Life 1934 and 1959

Pinky 1947

School Daze by Spike Lee 1988

The Wedding: staring Hale Berry 1998

Yellow: Black and Sexy TV (You Tube) 2015

As seen on a Sussex Directories Inc site

Steven Welch is a seasoned psychotherapist with over 27 years of experience in the areas of addiction, HIV, LGBT, adult and adolescent care.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC), he is able to adapt his clinical knowledge to support clients in a wide spectrum of life stressors.

Mr welch combines his multi cultural experience as an African American, British Caribbean living in New York City with a graduate education from Wurzweiler  School of Social Work, Yeshiva University. This combination of cultural and clinical awareness was the motivation for Mr Welch to be the first African American student council president at Wurzweiler.

Professionally, Mr. Welch’s roles spanned from direct clinical care to directorship positions. These positions were held at nationally and internationally known institutions which included: Albert Einstein College of Medicine Division Substance Abuse, Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Harlem Hospital Medical Center and Harlem United.

He has a thriving private practice in the heart of New York City’s 34th Street. The office is located across the street from the iconic Empire State Building and the world famous Macy’s at Herald Square. This location allows Mr Welch to service a rich diversity of clientele various socioeconomic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds that New York is known for.

As an educator,  Mr Welch has provides trainings which include: Counselor Wellness, Stress Management, Addiction and its impact on the family, Group Facilitation, and Public Speaking to name a few.

Mr Welch has been a CASAC for over 20 years. He has been both a moderator and participated on the planning committee for the NASW Addictions institute’s annual conference in New York.  He has completed postgraduate training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as well as Training and Supervision from both Bryn Mawr School of Social Service and Hunter College School of Social Work respectively.  He also completed a SiFi training at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work.

Mr Welch is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Association for Clinical Social Workers.

Steven P. Welch LCSW-R, ACSW, CASAC
19 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001

Enjoy Steven’s guest spot during a television interview discussing African American Mental Health.

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