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Don't Play in the Sun: One Woman's Journey Through the Color Complex Paperback – January 4, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400077362
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400077366
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 seesâ€"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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Golden, who has authored several fiction and nonfiction books on race and women's issues, offers a deeply personal account of growing up as a dark-skinned black woman. She had to cope with the internal politics of a social hierarchy based on color complexion among blacks that mirrors the hierarchy between blacks and whites in general. Golden recalls her mother's admonition not to play in the sun too long, for fear that she'd darken even more and hurt her prospects in life. Golden also recounts the liberating "black is beautiful" culture of the 1960s and 1970s that elevated black consciousness but ultimately didn't change the hierarchy. Recounting the progression from the paper-bag tests of black sororities through the "mulatto follies" that continue to dominate film images of black beauty, Golden applauds some recent developments, including the popularity of singer India-Arie and her anthems celebrating the beauty of dark brown women. 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. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I think I came into the world called to write. I have been a passionate reader and writer since I was a child. Books and language have provided me with a way to live in the world with an enlarged sense of my possibilities. Writing has thrust my personal questions and inner dialogues into the public space. In the process I have inspired others and learned from them through my work.

Customer Reviews

Dark skin as well as light skin is beautiful.
Ms. Kay
I didn't, however, give the book five stars for tackling such an important subject.
Kola Boof
At times, it felt as if I was reading one of Maya Angelou's writings.
Roberto Carlos Martinez (Author)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Kola Boof on November 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Marita Golden, as always, writes in an elegant, understated fashion...and this time brings to the fore what I and many African women consider to be the #1 problem facing our people today...the much denied hatred for dark skinned people, and in particular--FEMALES--who are "authentically" black.

I didn't, however, give the book five stars for tackling such an important subject. I gave it 5 stars for the author's subtle handling of YEARS of heartbreak, disappointment and "forced coping". I gave the book five stars, because Golden so carefully layers and allows her own personal beauty to spotlight the fact that color prejudice is both insidious and cancerous. Amazingly, Golden does this without rage or reciprocal hate.

By hating the darkest of black women...we are essentially proving that we ourselves have become White Supremacists who hate the womb of our beginning and ALL BLACK PEOPLE. What could be more important for black people in 2004 to wrap their minds around?

I myself come from Sudan and was put up for adoption at age 8 by my Egyptian grandmother...because she felt that my skin color was "too dark" for me to be included in my father's Egyptian family after he and my mother were murdered for protesting slavery in SUDAN.

I am the child of a "charcoal colored" African beauty and an Arab father.

Naturally, the trauma of such a rejection and such an event cannot be conveyed with mere words, but as a mother of 2 young boys who will someday be grown black men...
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mario M. Vittone on February 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book has made it on my list of must-reads for my children and must-haves in my library. It is a strikingly impressive work. As a middle-aged white man, I can only offer that I learned a lot about the author's culture (and was revealed a lot about mine) but put aside completely the topic of the book for a moment...it was one of the most beautifully written things I have ever read. I believe Marita Golden could write about the dynamics of drying paint and hold my undivided attention. Her skill as a writer alone makes the book a more than worthwhile read.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Carmen Matthews on May 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
We often read of "garbage messages" that are universal to all children, or, as John Bradshaw labels as "shame-based messages."
And in this book, by Marita Golden, we read how those of color pass on messages to their children, that from a child's view is an attack. From an adult view, it is both a warning of how one is measured by those in power, and it is something that is blindly passed on - not questioned, just accepted as fact, much like the unspoken messages that generation after generation mothers pass on to their daughters about their limitations.
I selected this book because I read, years ago, "Migration of the Heart," and "Skin Deep," by Ms. Golden. And I continue to be moved by her written messages. She speaks to your soul!
As a child, I do remember conflicting messages of, "Go outside and play," shortly followed by, "If you stay in the sun too long you will be too black."
"Too black" in the 60's, during the Civil Rights Movement - at times when we were saying, "Say it loud. I'm black and I'm proud?"
Yes. It was a statement unconsciously spoken. And it continues to be spoken, whites worry about the dangers of tanning salons, and blacks search for ways to "blend in."
Another reason why I was drawn to this book is that Ms. Golden uses Zora Neale Hurston's (read "Their Eyes Were Watching God," and her other books) messages from the first page, throught the book, to encourage change.
Thank you Ms. Golden, for telling your story, and for believing in your purpose, and for contributing to race relations being an inside job.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andre M. on February 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a sad, but real example of the psychological effects that Jim Crow, slavery, and colonialism had on Black people.

Marita Golden tells of the difficulties she had as a dark-skinned black girl in color-conscious Washington DC in the 1950s and the failure of the Black Power movement of the sixties to effectively destroy colorism in Black America in particular.

She also adds some telling commentary, as a world traveler, as to how darker people in the rest of the world still use dangerous bleaching creams to improve their low condition in life.

As a dark black man who was a teenager in equally color conscious Charleston, SC in the 1980s when people forgot that black was beautiful, I can relate to much of this book. But since looks do not play as big a role in the life of adult men as it does women and having had a Dad who taught me black history at an early age and understanding the ignorance of the naysayers, I have moved on from this.

I do not fault Ms. Golden for the effects this has on the way she sees almost everything. people tend to respond to oppression and trauma in different ways. In fact, I think she is to be commended for articulating why it is so difficult for many Black people (especially those of her generation) to just "Get Over It." While I am more Bill Cosby than Micheal Eric Dyson and am against wails of self pity and "excusism," it is true that growing up being completely devalued as a human being since childhood can either make you sink or swim, and not all will swim.

One thing that took me for a loop in this book was her belief that while she felt Black men who dated white women were self-hating, it was okay for her to date the Frenchman Marc.
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