Professor Lori Tharps (loritharps.com) has produced a pathbreaking study on colorism—the favored treatment of a light skinned member of a race, ethnic group or nationality. Colorism occurs in the United States, Latin America, Europe, India and East Asia. Based on her personal experience (each of her three children has a different skin tone) and interviews with Black, Latino and Asian people in the United States, Tharps explains the concerns parents have about favoring one child over a sibling or siblings, and equipping a darker skinned child to encounter a color conscious society.
Having light skin is not always an advantage. Tharps discusses the importance of tribal affiliation among members of all races. Accordingly, many light skinned people feel isolated within their own race, ethnic group, or nationality.
With pride, Tharps celebrates nascent world-wide efforts to address colorism.
Though the topic is serious, Same Family, Different Colors is a pleasure to read. Tharps tells stories from her own life and warmly recounts experiences of the people she interviews. By the time the book is finished, the reader considers Tharps a friend.
Tharps teaches journalism at Temple University. She must be an exemplary teacher, as her own writing is clear, concise and fast moving.
Same Family, Different Colors (Beacon Press) is highly recommended as an introduction to the challenge of colorism.