Golden paints an intimate self-portrait of her life as a dark-complexioned black woman and invites readers to take a behind-the-scenes look at the twisted and emotionally charged path of color-based discrimination that began when she was warned not to play in the sun. She succinctly details how the "light is right, black get back" mentality has permeated the African diaspora, its invasion of black institutions and how it sits just below the radar in Hollywood, athletics, news coverage and music videos. She includes stories from dozens of friends, acquaintances and experts, which as a whole suggest that blacks the world over may have been traumatized as much by colorism as they have by racism and colonialism. And with the grace of being faithful to one's own experience, Golden firmly plants her audience in her controversial dark skin. During a fifth-grade square dance, a popular young white boy rejects her black hand in disgust. At 19, in the wake of the black consciousness movement, Golden checks her face and Afro in the mirror and for the first time, "weeping with appreciation," "loves" what she sees-and goes on to form her own prejudices (since worked-through) against the lighter-skinned. Erudite, self-aware and thorough, Golden makes a knowing guide to thorny psychosocial territory. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"My friend's beautiful, brown-skinned, five-year-old daughter clutches her baby picture, beams with pride and boasts that she was born white. I cringe." "My husband chides me for allowing our son, who is much lighter than us, to play in the summer sun. I ignore him when he complains that our son is getting dark." This book is not one woman's journey. Golden pokes and prods, exposing parts of this reader that have been kept silent and secret, making it difficult to review this book in an objective manner. The personal stories she shares are not unique to her. She speaks the truth as many people of color have known it, forcing colorism underneath a microscope and examining all of its parts. Through interviews and conversations with psychologists, television producers, photographers, friends, and numerous others, she reveals that colorism still exists, despite the recent claims that racism doesn't. News clippings and media criticism offer further insight into this issue, urging YA readers to look at music videos, movies, and sports personalities critically. Young readers might also find the final section, "Letter to a Young Black Girl I Know," compelling. At times the views shared seem redundant, but really only point to the magnitude of the problem in the US, countries in Africa, and other places. Black women writers often write about beauty standards and the destructive nature of hair and skin politics on women's lives. Golden has joined the conversation, making it painfully clear that African Americans have internalized intraracism and used it to psychologically maim each other and ourselves. KLIATT Codes: SARecommended for senior high school students, advanced students, andadults. 2004, Random House, Anchor, 195p., Ages 15 to adult.
Novelist/memoirist Golden (Migrations of the Heart) combines autobiography, interviews, and social commentary in a potent meditation on a rampant preference for "lightness and brightness" among African Americans. People of a dazzling range of backgrounds, skin tones, and hair textures are defined and self-defined as "black," but social privilege routinely accompanies those with lighter skin, straighter hair, and smaller features-in short, those who approximate white appearance. Golden cites the marginalization of dark-skinned actresses and the success of Halle Barry; the sexualized, light-skinned women on BET videos; and the home and school experiences of dark- and light-skinned people from various walks of life. With chapters set in Nigeria and Cuba, she also demonstrates that colorism is internationally infectious. She articulates the myriad ways in which this affects black people across the color spectrum, damaging their self-esteem, their relationships, and their potential for success. Although the implied readership is primarily women of color, one hopes that this book reaches a wide audience, especially white participants in the larger conversation about race, who may be concerned about the black/white color line yet largely unaware of the ugly impact of colorism within the black community. Recommended for libraries of all sizes and types. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/03.]-Janet Ingraham Dwyer, Worthington Libs., OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
“Superb. . . . An insider’s view on the lasting impact of the color complex, which, after centuries, still governs the way blacks are treated, and even how we treat each other.” —Nathan McCall, author of Makes Me Wanna Holler
"Erudite, self-aware and thorough, Golden makes a knowing guide to thorny psychosocial territory."–Publishers Weekly
"A potent meditation."–Library Journal
“Thoughtful and provocative. . . . Marita Golden shows us how ludicous is the notion of “colorism” and the painful legacy it has created for us all.” --Patrice Gaines, author of Laughing in the Dark
“A uniquely personal memoir. . . . Using the dualism that existed in her home, she takes us through her life and describes how, even today, she is evaluated through the twin veils of race and color.” –Ebony
“As a youth in the early 1940s, I wrote a poem describing what I considered an ideal girl, [which] contained the lines: ‘Her hair is long, black, and silky,/ and she is high, yellow, fair.’ Truly, none of us are spared the marks of oppression. But some of us evolve. In Don’t Play in the Sun, Marita Golden displays with candor and insight her marvelous evolvement in the racially splintered concepts of color.” –Derrick Bell, author of Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth
“A deeply personal account of growing up as a dark-skinned woman. . . . Golden’s account of her personal journey to an appreciation of her looks offers a revealing look at a topic that is rarely discussed so openly.” –Booklist
“Marita Golden has written a brilliant, thought-provoking book. She voices the rage of brown and black girls who were taught to doubt their beauty . . . and she takes them with her on an emotional, transforming journey which celebrates self-love and self-acceptance. Ms. Golden is a healer, a griot attacking racism and self-hatred with wisdom, a lively spirit, and a generous heart. She encourages everyone to enjoy their days in the sun.” –Jewell Parker Rhodes, author of Douglass’s Women
“In this soul-searching, perceptive, and healing journey through the maze of the ‘color complex,’ Marita Golden challenges us to jettison the mirrors of the past, see ourselves through ourselves–and cherish the reflection.”–Paula J. Giddings, Professor of Afro-American Studies, Smith College, and editor of Burning All Illusions: Writings from The Nation on Race