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Don't Play in the Sun: One Woman's Journey Through the Color Complexby Marita Golden
Synopses & Reviews
In a hard-hitting meditation on the role that color plays among African Americans and in wider society, Marita Golden dares to put herself on the line, expressing her fears and rage about how she has navigated through the color complex.
To be sure, this is book is not a pity party—but, rather, a nuanced look at identity, and the irrepressible and graceful will of the human spirit. Peppering her narrative with “Postcards from the Color Complex,” reminiscences of some of the author’s most powerful experiences, Golden takes us inside her world, and inside her heart, to show what a half-century of intraracial and interracial personal politics looks like. We come to see the world through the eyes of the young Marita, and the dualism that existed in her own home: the ebony-hued father, who cherished her and taught her to be “black and proud,” and the lighter-skinned mother, who one summer afternoon admonished Marita while she was outside, “Come on in the house, it’s too hot to be playing out here. I’ve told you don’t go playing in the sun, ’cause as it is, you gonna have to get a light-skinned husband for the sake of your children.”
At every turn in her life—in high school, her black-power college days, as a young married woman in Africa, as a college professor, as an accomplished author, and even today—race and color are the inescapable veils through which Golden has been viewed.
In her most daring book to date, esteemed author Marita Golden has the courage to take on a topic others only talk about behind closed doors.
“Dont play in the sun. Youre 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 didnt 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.
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