Colorism – Enoch Pratt Free Library

English: African American History
English: African American History (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Colorism – Skin Color and Intra-Racial Issues Among African-Americans


Color consciousness has been a subject that has lingered just beneath the surface of intra-racial issues among African-Americans for years. Color consciousness, or “colorism” as it is often referred to, is a phenomenon in which persons of the same race discriminate against one another based on the lightness or darkness of one’s skin. Issues with race identity have divided African-Americans in several areas including education, social status and perceived beauty. The list below serves as a sampling of several voices that have contributed their opinions on this troubling topic through literature and film.




Who’s Afraid of a Large Black Man. Charles Barkley. 2006. E184 .A1 B2444 2005


Don’t Play in the Sun: One Woman’s Journey through the Color Complex. Marita Golden. 2004. E185.86 .G625 2003


The Future of the Race. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cornel West. 1996. E185.86.G3771996


Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class. Lawrence Graham. 1999. E185.86 .G644 1999


Skin Color Recognition, Preference, and Identification in Interracial Children: A Comparative Study. Wayne West Gunthrope. 1998.


An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Skin Color on African-American Education, Income, and Occupation. Ronald E. Hall. 2005.


Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation. Michael D. Harris 2003. N8232 .H37 2003Q


Race, Gender, and the Politics of Skin Tone Margaret L. Hunter. 2005.


Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market. Walter Johnson. 1999. F379 .N59 N4 1999


The Paper Bag Principle: Class, Colorism and Rumor and the case of Black Washington DC. Audrey Elisa Kerr. 2007. E185.93.D6K47 2007


Blue Veins and Kinky Hair: Naming and Color Consciousness in African America, Obiagele Lake. 2003.


The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color among African Americans Kathy Russell, Midge Wilson and Ronald Hall. 1992. E185.625 .A78 1992




Skin Deep. Kathleen Cross. 1999


The Bluest Eye. Toni Morrison. 1970


Other People’s Skin. Tracy Price-Thompson. 2007


Passin’. Karen E. Quinones-Miller. 2008


The Human Stain. Philip Roth. 2000


The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life. Wallace Thurman. 1996




A Girl Like Me. Directed by Kiri Davis. 2005. Available for viewing online at Media That Matters


A Question of color. Directed by Kathe Sandler.1992. VIDEOTAPE; Sights and Sounds Department


Imitation of Life.  Directed by John M. Stahl/Doulas Sirk. 2004. DVD; Sights and Sounds Department


One Drop Rule. Directed by James Banks. 2001.


School Daze. directed by Spike Lee. 1988. DVD; Sights and Sounds Department


The African American cinema II: The scar of shame. 1923, Sissle and Blake. 1926. VIDEOTAPE; Sights and Sounds Department


The Human Stain. Directed by Robert Benton. 2004. DVD; Sights and Sounds Department




Color Struck: A Play in Four Scenes. Zora Neale Hurston.1925. Reprinted 1994. PS153.N5.P671994


Additional Resources (Journal Articles)


Link to Word Document: African Americans and Racial Identity


Electronic Databases


To access, visit the Pratt Library Website at Databases. A Pratt Library card number may be required to access databases outside of the library.


African American Experience


The African American Experience, part of the American Mosaic Online Reference Family, provides user friendly electronic access to over 400 reference works covering African American scholarship from earliest times to present day. This database includes slave narratives and primary documents as well as audio clips, music and interviews with notable African Americans.


African American History and Culture


This electronic encyclopedia includes thousands of entries covering the entire breadth of African-American history—from African beginnings through the slave trade and the Civil Rights Movement to the present.


Contact Us


If you would like to know more about this subject, email us through our Ask-A-Librarian service, call the African American Department at 410-361-9287, or mail your questions to:


African American Department


Enoch Pratt Free Library


State Library Resource Center


400 Cathedral Street


Baltimore, MD 21201


via Colorism – Enoch Pratt Free Library.


One thought on “Colorism – Enoch Pratt Free Library

  1. Pingback: My Homepage

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.