AFR 302
Complexion Complexities: Colorism in Literature, Lyrics & Everyday Life Spring 2025
Division II

Class Details

Often viewed as the “dirty laundry” of the Black American past, colorism, or skin color bias, is a pervasive force within modern global society. Although it is not a new issue, its impact is far reaching and continues to have damaging effects on people of color-especially members within the African Diaspora. From skin bleaching creams like “Whitenicious” to rap music’s fetishization of light-skinned women, colorism is a very real and present issue affecting Black life. From the literary works of Wallace Thurman and Toni Morrison, to the lyrics of blues crooner Big Bill Broonzy and rapper Lil Wayne, we will analyze the many ways that the politics of color influence standards of beauty and attractiveness, perceptions of behavior and criminality, and economic attainment and stability.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3318
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation, response papers, one 6- to 8-page paper, and a formal class presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: juniors and seniors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: AFR Core Electives
AFR Culture, Performance, and Popular Technologies
AMST Arts in Context Electives
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora

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