Why do some people hold more antipathy towards police officers than others? This study investigates how U.S. citizens’ perceptions of police officers differ by skin tone. My research question, “Is one’s skin tone related to their perceptions of police authority?” is explored through past literature on the history of the criminal justice system’s treatment of people of color. By building a theoretical framework using Joe Feagin’s theory of systemic racism, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s Latin Americanization thesis, and Erving Goffman’s stigma theory, I argue that African Americans with darker skin tones hold more negative perceptions of police officers than those with lighter skin tones. The results did not clearly indicate that darker skin tones are directly correlated to greater antipathy towards police officers. However, this study did find that African American respondents with the lightest skin color are the most satisfied with police protection, while African American respondents with the darkest skin color are the most dissatisfied with police protection.


Biagas, David


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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