THE COLOR OF MAN
Development of the Concept:

     In 1952, having completed the BA in Art at UCLA, I decided to produce a combination animation + live action documentary film for the Master of Arts in Motion Pictures.  Presenting the contemporary scientific theories for skin color differences, the film would consist of white, brown, black, yellow & red sections & be titled: "The Colors Of Races."
     When my initial research failed to find a single comprehensive work on the subject, however, it became necessary to review everything available under the overall library catalogue heading: "Man, Color of."
     Surprisingly, a comparison of dozens of anthropology, genetics, dermatology, etc. texts revealed a lack of agreement on the part of even the leading authorities; each of whom tended to divide mankind into subjective categories based on arbitrary criteria.   One popular university level book, for example, ambiguously described Malaysians as having skin "the color of dried oak leaves."  There was neither a generally accepted standard for measuring skin color, nor any published studies defining and mapping out the colors of the world's peoples.
     At the time most anthropologists separated humanity into "Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Red, Beige," or "Caucasoid, Negroid, Asian, Australoid, Polynesian" or other such "racial" categories.  But, since the word "race," literally meant "descended from a common stock," it seemed properly applicable only to groups all of whose members were capable of interbreeding.  While one could say there is a "race" of dogs, cats, horses, etc., the term "race" didn't seem accurate for describing biological sub-species even when based upon constellations of several characteristics such as color, height, or shape.  All people -  from the dark skinned pygmies of the Congo to the tall blondes of Scandinavia - being capable of intermarrying to produce viable offspring, there could be only one, "human," race.
     The proposed film, therefore, rather than being separated into arbitrary "racial" categories, would have to concern itself with the varying color groupings within our species.  But even the idea of depicting humanity divided into separate color groups appeared to be inaccurate since, as observed by an astute 18th Century French anthropologist, when one travels by land from Europe to Central Africa, from the regions inhabited by the lightest to the darkest peoples, there exist no lines of sharp demarcation, only a gradual, almost imperceptible change.  Most of the world's peoples are of a medium color, forming a bell curve with the lightest and darkest at the extremes.  "The Colors of Races" was transformed into "The Color of Man."    The completed 1954 MA Thesis film demonstrated how, as the descendants of the first humans emigrated ever northward away from what the fossil record indicates was an intensely sunlit African or Asian origin, the interaction of genetic potential with the weakening sunlight caused, due to the process of natural selection over thousands of generations, a lightening of skin, hair & eye color.
     By late 1957, even with  the Supreme Court's 1954 Integration Decision leading to a growing civil rights movement demanding desegregation & equality for all Americans, there was still no comprehensive book available on the subject of human skin color.
     Reviewing the research used for the MA Thesis Film, and enlarging its coverage of prejudice, discrimination & segregation, became the basis for the book THE COLOR OF MAN; published in 1968 & 1972 by Random House.  Bantam Books came out with a paperback edition in 1972; & the California State Department of Education printed a 50,000 copy text edition in 1973.
     Although out of print since the 1980s, along with a multi-media kit of the same title, it continues to be used in many school systems; with excerpts appearing in texts in France & Japan.  Future plans include an updated & expanded work to be titled:

"THE COLOR OF HUMANITY"

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Reviews: New York Times, Kirkus, Robert Coles

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