Is 'Black' Really Beautiful? by Kuir ë Garang

Is 'Black' Really Beautiful?

Dehumanizing Ethics of Descriptions and Vilifying Philosophies of Naming


Garang (Deng, Nyan-nhialdit and the Talking Crow, 2013, etc.) raises some interesting points in this convoluted argument for the recontextualization of black identity.

Starting with the ontology of black identity, moving into history and the realities of racism, and finishing with terminology and thought processes related to black people, Garang challenges the phrase “black is beautiful.” He argues that throughout modern history, “colorless” people have led “colored” people to view themselves from an inferior perspective so that, in effect, their initial perspective is biased toward negativity. Colored people (and people in general) have also been taught to think of the word “black” as being bad, with one of Garang’s examples being “when someone says that a black cat crossing one’s path is a bad luck.” Combining these negative pieces cannot produce a positive outcome, so, Garang says, black people must derive a new way of thinking about themselves, for their own benefit. Garang makes a few compelling points, including his opinion that “saying that ‘black is beautiful’ to mean I am beautiful…is a stupefying expression” because black and beauty are not linguistic synonyms. The writing and construction of his prose, however, often hurt his argument. For instance, he differentiates between different degrees of racially biased thinking as “Racism and racism”—a confusing distinction when read together. There’s also a perplexing use of italics indiscriminately applied single prepositions—“It is to be noted also that a sense of self doesn’t exclude men of the gods”—along with a few unpardonable errors: “She was assumed inferior…excluded from the anal of American society.” Similarly, in an effort to lighten his text, Garang inserts “Mid-Thought Pauses” that annoy more than illuminate.

A unique viewpoint on a topic worthy of discussion, but dense writing, poor construction and various inconsistencies severely limit the work’s merit.

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0991678945
Page count: 178pp
Publisher: The Nile Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


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