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Negrescence is a word with a Latin origin. It describes a process of becoming black or developing a racial identity. It can also refer to having a dark complexion.[1]

Negrescense extends through history by those victimized by racism and white supremacy. Psychological adaptations instigated identity formation for persons of African American descent.

In 1885, John Beddoe compiled an index of negrescence to analyze the population of the British Isles.[2] Beddoe used the physical descriptions of a population of 13,000 males to compile his index. He gave one point to a male with red or blonde hair. He gave one point to men with dark hair as well. A black-haired male was given two points. If the male had brown- or chestnut-colored, hair, they were considered neutral. He created a map that showed distribution of negrescence in Britain. This map was recreated and published by R. H. Hodgkin in 1935. It showed that the hair color of men in western Scotland, Wales, and Ireland was darker than the hair color of males in eastern England and eastern Scotland.

This analysis was used to support Beddoe's theory that the Irish had the physical characteristics of the indigenous, aboriginal people of the British Isles.

Professor William E. Cross, Jr. of the City University of New York's Graduate Center included a theory of Nigrescence in his groundbreaking book Shades of Black: Diversity in African American Identity, which was published in 1991. His theory assumed that African Americans proceed through a series of distinct psychological stages as they move from self-degradation to self-pride over time.

Charles Thomas came up with the concept of negromachy. He believed there was a confusion of self-worth where the person shows inappropriate dependence on white society for self definition. He created a five stage nigrescence model.

Bailey Jackson created a four stage nigrescense model.

Frantz Fanon coined the term "To become black" which meant as a process of developing a black identity under conditions of oppression.


Frantz Fanon

John Beddoe

William E. Cross, Jr.

Bailey Jackson

Charles Thomas


Theorist: William E. Cross, Jr. Bailey Jackson Charles Thomas
Stages: Pre-Encounter


  • Realization
  • Decision



Passive acceptance

Active resistance





Information Processing



See also[edit]


  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. This word apparently dates from about 1745 in English. This word is sometimes spelled "nigrescence."
  2. ^ The Races of Britain: a Contribution to the Anthropology of Western Europe. Bristol and London, John Beddoe, 1885, republished by Hutchinson, London, 1971, ISBN 0-09-101370-4.


Cross, William E. Jr. "Nigrescence Theory: Historical and Explanitory Notes." Journal of Vocational Behavior, April 23, 1994.