Skin Color Matters in the Latinx Community: A Call for Action in Research, Training, and Practice

Milton A. Fuentes, Jazmin A. Reyes-Portillo, Petty Tineo, Kenny Gonzalez, Mamona Butt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


While skin color is relevant and important in the Latinx community, as it is associated with colorism, little is known about how often it is measured or the best way to measure it. This article presents results from two studies examining these key concerns in three prominent journals, where Latinx research is typically published (i.e., the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, the Journal of Latinx Psychology, and Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology). Study one examined whether skin color was measured as a variable, and if so, what measures and methodologies were used. A review of articles (n = 1,137) showed few studies measured skin color in these three journals, with studies that did so relying on various approaches. Study two aimed to assess the reliability of a widely used skin color measure, the Massey-Martin scale, also known as the New Immigrant Survey (NIS) Skin Scale. Using a sample of 169 undergraduate students, self-ratings, coder ratings, and in vivo ratings were obtained and compared. One-way random effects model analyses indicated excellent reliability with minimal variability across the various ratings. Our findings suggest a critical need to engage in a more concerted effort to assess and discuss the relevance and importance of skin color within the Latinx community. The authors offer some suggestions on how to facilitate these efforts in clinical, training, and research arenas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-58
Number of pages27
JournalHispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Massey-Martin scale
  • NIS Skin Color scale
  • colorism
  • skin color


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