Book Reviews - 1968

(8-1/2 x ll-1/4. SBN: 68-10351) 109 pp.
Text by Robert Carl Cohen 
Photos by Ken Heyman

THE FAMILY OF MAN is the obvious progenitor, both as an album of images of the world's people and as a concept: brotherhood.  Here, however, the handsome layout and inspiring pictures are the setting for an explanation of what color consists of, how it is inherited (and how variations are transmitted), how differences arose and why they persisted; and also why the Americas exhibited peculiarities and the effects of slavery and migration.  The last chapter, reinforced by the afterword, deals with prejudice and ideas of 'inferiority" by demonstrating that each presumed stigma (low scores on intelligence tests, bad health, high crime rates) is the result of poverty.  Throughout, the text is painstaking in leading up to and away from each assertion, scrupulous in distinquishing between fact and supposition. 
     It is easy, but not really relevant to say that, except in the first chapter on the cause of color, the very fine photographs can be enjoyed without the text, and the text can be understood without the pictures: if the child does not always grasp the conceptual connection between the two (which is sometimes quite subtle), he cannot help responding to the vitality of diversity, and quite directly to the strong Blacks.  In a book that is intended to promote pride and dispel prejudice, that is a considerable contribution.
by Robert Carl Cohen
 Reviewed by Dr. Robert Coles
Research psychiatrist, Harvard University Health Services, 
author of "Children of Crisis: A Study of Courage and Fear."

     Today in America, and indeed all over the world, our children are perhaps more color conscious than ever before.  In the past, things were more brutally clear; there were those who essentially ran the world, the European colonial countries, and those who were run - that is, controlled, managed, used and abused, and always, kept in their place   All that is changing, as we well know.  In America, not only Negroes, but Indians and Mexican- Americans press their long-standing grievances on us as never before - so that a child growing up ... no matter what his color, cannot escape the curiousity and confusion that inevitably go with social change and social struggle.
     This book, THE COLOR OF MAN, provides a splendid and poignant answer to our need - for words and pictures that tell and show children what color means, how its social and political significance came about.  The text is in the modern sociological and anthropological tradition.  We are given the biological facts of color, then told about the cultural and historical forces that made people feel different from and afraid of other people.  All sorts of myths and superstitions are clearly and directly and openly put to rest, and in their place the reader is acquainted with the fears and envies that make people distrust one another and latch on to color as a convenient excuse for doing so.  But don't think this book is pedantic or gloomy; it boasts dozens of really fine really touching photographs of children and grownups from all over the world. 
     If only every child in the world could have this book, and come to know and feel its message.
Filmography                 Color of Man                RadFilms