When describing one another, we Black American people have come up with some very descriptive terms. Houston to Chicago to San Antonio to San Francisco — there are as many ways to describe black skin as there is to describe snow. Personally, I like to think of black and brown skin as honey — syrups that are between a rich and dark to an amber and light.
Frankly, it’s morning and I think I’m just hungry as I write this post. It’s been years since I had pancake or waffles so sometimes I just dream about the toppings and apply it to everything.
Nonetheless, I do owe some of this ability to tell the difference between “slate blue” and “french grey” from the necessity of learning the distinctions of skin color from an early age.
A book, bound in a rich color, perhaps the endpapers swirling like a kaleidoscope — all this, is important. It is a CHOICE made by the publisher, sometimes by the author. A VALUE has been placed on the CHOICE of “smoked oak” or “spring green”. For mammals, we see an astounding range of colors, each with an identifier, a message, sometimes Proustian, sometimes primordial. Run, advance, lust, king, earth, virgin, honest.
When colors get more complex, we are drawn to the complexity that experience has given us. Aquamarine reminds me of the color of boats, which reminds me of my father and time on the sea, but not directly the sea itself. (You can imagine how much time I spend in the paint section of a hardware store. I also spent a lot of my summers painting Dad’s boats.)
In books, as in other man-made objects, the hand of the creator and the choice of color is often a marketing decision. The irony is that some marketing decisions can become art unto themselves, containing a subtlety of emotion and instinct expressed in color.
So, I will admit that when I’m scouting for books, I am drawn to the color of a book. There are times when the very ugliness of color entices me. Very brown books hide a lot of secrets! Very red books remind me of books on quilting and diaries. (Why would you want a red diary?) Pink books remind me of dumb girls and black books contain nudity. Now, I never said it had to make sense.
So, I’ll leave it there for now. More on color in another post. It’ll be worth it. For now, stay beautiful.
What’s on my turntable: Under Construction by Missy Elliot
Favorite Song: “Gossip Folks”