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A Proof of Concept: An Agent-Based Model of Colorism within an Organizational Context (Local Policing)

News and Events | Comments Off on A Proof of Concept: An Agent-Based Model of Colorism within an Organizational Context (Local Policing)

CSS seminar
Friday, April 20th
3pm, Center for Social Complexity Suite located on the 3rd floor of Research Hall

Henry Smart, III, Ph.D. Candidate, Virginia Tech, will present “A Proof of Concept: An Agent-Based Model of Colorism within an Organizational Context (Local Policing)” (abstract below). The talk will be followed by a Q&A session along with light refreshments.

This session will be live-streamed on the newly created CSS program YouTube channel.
For announcements regarding this and future streams, please join the CSS/CDS student and alumni Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/257383120973297/ For a list of upcoming and previous seminars, please visit our calendar.

Abstract: Colorism is the allocation of privilege and disadvantage based on skin color, with a prejudice for lighter skin. This project uses agent-based modeling (computational simulation) to explore the potential effects of colorism on local policing. I argue that colorism might help to explain some of the racial disparities in the United States’ criminal justice system. I use simulated scenarios to explore the plausibility of this notion in the form of two questions: 1) How might colorism function within an organization; and 2) What might occur when managers apply the typical dilemmatic responses to detected colorism? The simulated world consists of three citizen-groups (lights, mediums, and darks), five policy responses to detected colorism, and two policing behaviors (fair and biased). Using NetLogo, one hundred simulations were conducted for each policy response and analyzed using one-way ANOVA and pairwise comparison of means. When the tenets of colorism were applied to an organizational setting, only some of the tenets held true. For instance, those in the middle of the skin color spectrum experienced higher rates incarceration when aggressive steps were taken to counter colorism, which ran counter to the expectations of the thought experiment. The study identified an opportunity to expand the description of colorism to help describe the plight of those in the middle of the skin color spectrum. The major contributions from this work include a conceptual model that describes the relationship between the distinct levels of colorism and it progresses the notion of interactive colorism. The study also produced conditional statements that can be converted into hypotheses for future experiments.