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Other People's Skin: Four Novellas
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Other People's Skin: Four Novellas

by Tracy Price-Thompson (Editor), TaRessa Stovall (Editor), Desiree Cooper

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In "Other People's Skin," Tracy Price-Thompson and TaRessa Stovall, along with fellow authors Elizabeth Atkins and Desiree Cooper, take on one of the most controversial topics within the African-American community: the self-hatred caused by intra-racial prejudice and the ongoing obsession with skin tone and hair texture. In other words, the skin/hair thang among


In "Other People's Skin," Tracy Price-Thompson and TaRessa Stovall, along with fellow authors Elizabeth Atkins and Desiree Cooper, take on one of the most controversial topics within the African-American community: the self-hatred caused by intra-racial prejudice and the ongoing obsession with skin tone and hair texture. In other words, the skin/hair thang among black women.
It begins with TaRessa Stovall's "My People, My People," in which a successful advertising executive acquires firsthand knowledge of prejudice when her clients insist on using light- rather than dark-skinned models. Next comes Tracy Price-Thompson's award-winning story "Other People's Skin," a tale set in 1970s Louisiana, where a dark-skinned young woman must come to terms with the bigotry of her light-skinned family. "New Birth," by Desiree Cooper reveals the intense roles that money, class, and skin color play in the intra-racial relationship between Catherine, a wealthy, light-skinned lawyer, and Lettie, her dark-skinned house cleaner. Finally, Elizabeth Atkin's "Take It Off" tells the story of a biracial girl who hides her coarse, braided hair from her friends at a mixed-race university in Detroit.
"Other People's Skin" is the most innovative and varied anthology of sisterhood and unity to date. Each novella entertains, challenges, and, most important, offers healing to the reader -- no matter what her race, skin tone, or state of mind.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A clumsy attempt at exploring the complex issue of skin color in the African-American community. Four novellas undertake a single agenda: to demonstrate the wickedness of intrarace bigotry. No stroke is broad enough for the authors, which is unfortunate, as the issue-how light is too light to be black, how dark is too dark to be pretty-is at once fascinating and heartbreaking. The first piece, "My People, My People," by Stovall, involves an ad executive confronted by a racist client. Carmella has chosen the perfect model for a new cosmetics campaign called Hot Chocolate, but the owner of the company, the indomitable Helena, wants a lighter-skinned model. Carmella correctly suspects that Helena's own self-hatred of her black features is the root of the problem. Price-Thompson's "Other People's Skin" begins well with the birth of Euleatha LaMoyne to the fair-skinned Peaches. Peaches rejects her dark-skinned daughter, leaving Eulie to be raised by her great-grandmother, Ma'Dear, a wise woman who tries to instill in Eulie a compassion for those who mistreat her. And boy is she mistreated-Peaches and her light-skinned daughter Paline behave as if Eulie is a monster they're kind enough to house. Eulie decides to leave town after Ma'Dear's death, but is instead transported back in time to a plantation, where, now light-skinned, she's able to understand that pain and suffering come in all shades. In Desiree Cooper's "New Birth," Lettie, to help pay for a retrial for her wrongly convicted son, gets a job cleaning house for Catherine Rollins, a light-skinned attorney. Catherine, an unabashed proponent of the worst racial stereotypes, assumes Lettie to be a thieving, welfare-scamming, illiterateloafer, while Lettie thinks the worst of Catherine and her light-skinned kind. Lastly is Elizabeth Atkins Bowman's "Take It Off!" about a biracial university student torn between proving her blackness to the other black students and retaining her integrity as a budding journalist. Attempts are made to examine the source of misplaced self-hatred, but the characters are either so bad or good, and the plotting so overdone, that all subtlety is lost.

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Atria Books
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5.31(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.90(d)

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Editor's Note

As black women in America, negotiating the minefields of daily life can be a daunting task. With an erosion of our core value system and a mass media that bombards us with repeated images of inferior, stereotypical black womanhood, we are often given the message that it is somehow wrong to love our sisters and our natural black selves. Thus, cultural and ethnic pride, self-edification, and a sense of a shared responsibility for our own are often elusive ideals that we must work hard to reclaim.

We all know it takes a village to raise a people, and as women of the village we must strive to cultivate an environment where our daughters thrive on a steady diet of sisterly love and mutual support. Too often black women pass judgments on one another based primarily on physical characteristics of skin tone and hair texture, when in reality we are all linked in a sisterhood of one blood, one heart, one soul.

Other People's Skin seeks to heal this rift among black women and to cleanse our sisterly souls of this polluted by-product of America's legacy of race-based slavery. The crab-in-the-barrel mentality that at one time may have been necessary for our individual survival has now become a purveyor of our collective demise.

There is safety in numbers, our sisters! It is time to gather our community resources and use our talents and efforts to correct the ills that breed dysfunction and prevent us from rising as a unified body of black womanhood and realizing our full potential.

It is our hope that each story in this first volume of our Sister-to-Sister Empowerment Series will bless you with a healthy dose of self-love and provide a healing balm for our generational scars.

We hope that through our literary efforts you are able to find a gem of solidarity in this work of fiction that is useful in your everyday life. May you wish for your sisters the same love, serenity, and prosperity you crave for yourself. May you be blessed with the utmost peace and balance, and as you travel along the roads of self-discovery with Carmella, Euleatha, Catherine, and Dahlia, may you always remember...if the hat fits you must wear it!

Tracy Price-Thompson and TaRessa Stovall

Meet the Author

Tracy Price-Thompson is the national bestselling author of the novels, Black Coffee, Chocolate Sangria, A Woman's Worth, Knockin' Boots, Gather Together in My Name, and 1-900-A-N-Y-T-I-M-E. Tracy is a highly decorated Desert Storm veteran who graduated from the Army's Infantry Officer Candidate School after more than ten years as an enlisted soldier. A Brooklyn, New York, native who has traveled extensively and lived in amazing places around the world, Tracy is a retired Army Engineer officer and Ralph Bunche graduate Fellow who holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and a master's degree in Social Work. Tracy lives in Hawaii with her wonderfully supportive husband and several of their six bright, beautiful, incredible children.

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