The Blacker the Berry by Wallace Thurman

A lost classic of the Harlem Renaissance, The Blacker the Berry explores the grievances faced by Emma Lou due to the darkness of her skin. Emma Lou escapes her hometown in Boise, Idaho thinking the people there to be narrow minded and too concerned with the shade of a persons skin. Eventually, she finds herself in Harlem of the 1920’s and is shocked to discover that even there, the colour of her skin is to be a constant obstacle that filters into every aspect of her life. 

The novel addresses colourism specifically as a gendered issue and as something being perpetrated within black communities. At the time that it was originally released in 1929, and even up until now, the novel has been labelled as ‘controversial’ because Thurman had the courage to address anti-black notions within black communities themselves. 

A necessary book on any reading list on colourism as it clearly and precisely illustrates the ills of colourism and how deeply entrenched they are in our own communities.