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Gibson, C.F. (1931). Concerning Color. Psychoanal. Rev., 18(4):413-425.

(1931). Psychoanalytic Review, 18(4):413-425

Concerning Color

Charles F. Gibson


Physical appearances, especially if they are in some way modified, are potent factors in personality make-up. Large noses, bald heads, withered arms, and the like, have played their parts in the ever moving spectacle of life. And, as the spectacle, the drama, moves on, the role of the Negro is becoming more prominent. The heterogeneity of this group is striking and one does not have to search far to ascertain its causative factor is color.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the influences exerted on the mental attitudes and personality make-ups of the variously colored Negroes by color, per se.

At one time, not many years ago, there stood in a large southern city a Negro Episcopal Church, the doorways of which were painted a light shade of tan. If, upon entering the church, an individual was seen to be of a complexion darker than the doorway, membership in the church was denied him. This is but one instance of intraracial segregation which is based on the heterogeneity of color and, because of this peculiar composition, the race is herein divided, for the purpose of discussion, into three groups, viz.: (1) black, including the truly black and dark brown; (2) brown, including the lighter shades of brown and yellow; (3) pale, including those whose color and features, incidentally, are more Caucasian than Negroid.



The association of black with the more unpleasant things in life is ubiquitous. Evil, mourning, and gloom, among other things, are its analogues and no one is more aware of this than the individual whose skin is black. A bit of his homely philosophy finds expression in a line from a blues song: “Born of a dark woman, sure to see dark days.” The black man feels his color more acutely than does any other, for not only is he harassed by interracial prejudice, but the intraracial sentiment against him is equally as strong, if not stronger. Thus, blackness becomes the progenitor of inferiority.

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