It’s summer… which brings out the tanning anxiety for some Asians. I’ve written about my own love-hate relationship with the sun on this blog. You see, I’m a sun-loving California girl and well aware of the racial identity and colonial implications of skin color for Asian Americans, yet I was also raised in an environment that prizes fair flawless (did I mention fair?) complexions and a narrow standard of beauty.
I was recently contacted by Lori Tharps, Assistant Professor of Journalism at Temple University, about a book she is writing. Called Same Family, Different Colors, the book will address colorism in families of diverse racial backgrounds. This is how Tharps explains her project:
The book I’m working on is called, “Same Family, Different Colors.” Part memoir, and part cultural investigation, I’m trying to demonstrate how color differences in nuclear families affect family dynamics. In other words, does being the same race but different colors affect the way we parent, the way siblings interact, the relationship between parent and child and the level of success achieved outside the home? Although colorism and its insidious effects are at the root of the story, I am not writing a book about colorism as I know many families with different shades are not burdened by color politics in the home. So, some families I profile will have been destroyed by color differences, while others will hardly find it an issue. My goal is to show the full spectrum of outcomes by profiling a wide variety of people with a range of different experiences, positive, negative and neutral.
What’s different about my book is that I am including Black families, as well as Latino, Asian and interracial families like my own. In this way, I intend to show that color politics affect all people –not just African-Americans — in the hopes that as a society we might come together to address this issue.
The book is under contract with Beacon Press and is intended for a mainstream audience.
Tharps is part of a mixed-race family herself: she is Black and her husband is Spanish, and she also blogs at My American Meltingpot. She tells me that she’s having an especially difficult time finding Asian American subjects for her interviews, so if you’re open to talking about your own experience with skin color, please contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
She’s written three other books with the common thread of race, identity and interracial dynamics. You can check them out here (affiliate links):