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Lind, J.E. (1914). The Color Complex in the Negro. Psychoanal. Rev., 1(4):404-414.

(1914). Psychoanalytic Review, 1(4):404-414

The Color Complex in the Negro

John E. Lind, M.D.

In the case which I wish to discuss somewhat in detail, the most striking aspect of the delusional field has as its foundation a complex which is extremely common, one might almost say, universal, in the negro. This complex is based upon the social subordination of the negro in the United States, and as the most obvious racial distinction serving to set him apart from the more favored race is his color, I shall refer to it hereafter for the sake of convenience as the “color complex.”

That the color complex is present even in negroes presenting no evidence of a psychosis might almost be accepted as a truism. I shall mention, however, a few evidences of this. In the somewhat primitive theological conception which obtains among the negroes, the Deity is personified as a white man, the angels also are white. Apparent exceptions to this must be noted. I have seen works of art for sale in stores catering to negro trade, representing scenes in Paradise, translations, etc., where the celestial figures were black, a startling, vivid black. The motives prompting such production, as well as those which might actuate their purchase and their acceptance as a faithful representation of the future state are probably a note of defiance, a protest against the orthodox color scheme of salvation, and by inference a recognition that the latter does not exist. But these are exceptions and the rule which will be verified by any one who has had considerable dealing with the negroes is that the future blessed state according to their ideas is one in which they will display a spotless integument and the first ceremony in the ritual of their entrance to Heaven is the casting aside of the ebony husk.


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