THE COLOR COMPLEX by Kathy Russell

THE COLOR COMPLEX

The 'Last Taboo' Among African-Americans
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 How prejudices based on skin color (as well as hair texture and facial structure) affect the daily lives and life opportunities of blacks in their dealings with whites and--above all--with each other: A compilation of anecdotes with a familiar historical overview and mostly obvious conclusions. Race-mixing--both voluntary and through white slaveholders routinely raping black female slaves--has occurred throughout American history, with the result that black racial identity now encompasses people with a vast range of physical characteristics. According to Russell (a scriptwriter), Wilson (Psychology/DePaul Univ.), and Hall (Social Work/Augsburg College), status and privilege historically were accorded those blacks who appeared most white and who--though not acknowledged as family--often received educational and economic opportunities through their white relatives. A skin-color hierarchy developed within African-American society, the authors say, with most leadership positions held by the light-skinned, who have often been distrusted by the dark- skinned. Russell, Wilson, and Hall overstate the secret nature of this problem, which has been treated publicly by filmmakers and writers and has been repeatedly discussed on nationally syndicated talk shows. They address the use of hair straighteners and skin bleaches, pointing out that corporate types don't wear dreadlocks; demonstrate that darker-skinned black men are associated with sexuality and criminality, lighter-skinned women with beauty and femininity; and note that these associations affect socioeconomic mobility by influencing who is hired by white corporations and by creating intraracial tensions on the job. Has the feel of a magazine article padded out with term-paper material into a book.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-15-119164-6
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1992