"Don't play in the sun. You're going to have to get a light-skinned husband for the sake of your children as it is."
In these words from her mother, novelist and memoirist Marita Golden learned as a girl that she was the wrong color. Her mother had absorbed "colorism" without thinking about it. But, as Golden shows in this provocative book, biases based on skin color persist-and so do their long-lasting repercussions.
Golden recalls deciding against a distinguished black university because she didn't want to worry about whether she was light enough to be homecoming queen. A male friend bitterly remembers that he was teased about his girlfriend because she was too dark for him. Even now, when she attends a party full of accomplished black men and their wives, Golden wonders why those wives are all nearly white. From Halle Berry to Michael Jackson, from Nigeria to Cuba, from what she sees in the mirror to what she notices about the Grammys, Golden exposes the many facets of "colorism" and their effect on American culture. Part memoir, part cultural history, and part analysis, Don't Play in the Sun also dramatizes one accomplished black woman's inner journey from self-loathing to self-acceptance and pride.
About the Author
Marita Golden has written both fiction and nonfiction, including Migrations of the Heart, A Miracle Every Day, and Saving Our Sons. She is the editor of Wild Women Don't Wear No Blues: Black Women Writers on Love, Men, and Sex, and the coeditor of Gumbo: An Anthology of African American Writing. She is the founder and CEO of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, which supports African American writers, and lives in Maryland.
“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