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Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America's Diverse Families

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  68 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Weaving together personal stories, history, and analysis, "Same Family, Different Colors" explores the myriad ways skin-color politics affect family dynamics in the United States.
Colorism and color bias the preference for or presumed superiority of people based on the lighter color of their skin is a pervasive but rarely openly discussed phenomenon, one that is centuries
Published October 4th 2016 by Beacon Press
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Carolina Celedón
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really great book. Kind of dense so it takes a bit to get through but it lays out the history of colorism within different communities very well and relies on personal narratives to come to conclusions about beauty standards surrounding color within the African American, Latino, asian/asian American, and mixed race community.
Perla Mondragon
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think the book was good because it talked about how being in a mixed family was rough because people would say that being black is flawed and being skin is good. But it was a really good book because people with mixed families would give their experience.
Karen Ashmore
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author examined colorism as manifested by African American, Latinx, Asian and mixed race families where offspring can run the gamut from light skinned passably white to dark mahogany in the same family. She also explained the history of colorism n different racial/ethnic groups. I knew about colorism in black families but had no idea of the system of colorism established by Spanish settlers in Latin America and the differentiation between mestizo and mulatto. I was disappointed she did not ...more
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a chatty, informal, journalistic take on the issue of color in America. Tharps rightly recognizes the increasing inability of assigning phenotypes reliably to race. Indeed, thinkers are now (and have been for some time) questioning the utility of the 'term' race at all. So Tharps' effort to think through issues of color, in particular what she terms 'colorism' is welcome. Much of the text is comprised of anecdotal evidence from different people with mixed backgrounds, explaining how they ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Interest book that explores the tension between race and color, and the idea that racism is not quite the same as colorism. People are discriminated against based not just on race but on color. In practice, this means that light-skinned blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and others face less racism than dark-skinned people in the same group. She does a good job of a brief exploration of colorism in several major racial/ethnic groups - African American, Asian & Asian American, Latino/Hispanic, ...more
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing book that I am so glad I read. I have read other books by Lori L. Tharps and this was a different type of book than I usually read. The author was definitely thinking about her children and how to best talk with them about this topic. Having read many books on Slavery and the impact on our lives it was interesting to read about different cultures and how they think about color and their family’s different hues. The information was at time overwhelming but eye opening at the same time. ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
The author has some good ideas and questions that tend to get overlooked. Unfortunately the author's strong racist and colorist bias comes across both in her research sections and in her personal interviews which makes it impossible to consider any part of this as valid scientific research. Her pale hatred and the ease with which she admits to disregarding anyone too white looking is disturbing particularly as she reports one of her own children to be so white-looking that she is "disappointed", ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We need more empathy in the world. How would we feel if that were our family. We all want and need to feel safe and have our efforts of a better life realized. As I often say, we do not choose: our skin color, our birth families, the income level of our parents or social status, nor do we choose where we are born. We are all human, period. Why can't we be kind to everyone; no matter what they look like.
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, race
By examining the ways different families from different ethnic groups confront and deal with skin color differences in the intimate space of the home, we can see where, when, how, and why color bias beings or ends and why it takes hold of some people while others are able to shrug it off like yesterday's news. We can see why a dark child in a Latino family scrubs herself with bleach every night so people understand she is her mother's child. We can see why a blond-haired, blue-eyed biracial girl ...more
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm grateful to have received this as an advanced readers copy.

This book takes a look at colorism - bias for or against people on the basis on skin tone - among families in Black, Latino, and Asian communities across America. It includes some discussion of the broader problem of colorism in American society, but the starting and ending focus are dynamics within families where kids and parents have a range of different skin tones. Colorism is not a slippery concept, but something about Tharps'
Sarah Smith
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multiculturalism
Families are expected to look alike, but what about the nuclear families whose members have different skin colors? "Colorism" is the practice of ascribing moral or social values to skin color, and, as Lori Tharps discovers, it's everywhere. Skin color affects not only White and Black communities but Mexican and other Latino cultures and most Asian cultures. Tharps summarizes the history and science of skin colors ably, but the heart of her book are the hundreds of anecdotes she's collected from ...more
This book was written by a woman in a "mixed race" marriage and whose children are all different shades of light to brown. She's interested in "colorism"--the cultural preference for lighter skin--and how looking different from one or both parents affects the children. She explored "mixed-race" marriages as well as variations found within "same-race" marriages. She looked at historical preferences for appearances in these cultures and interviewed children and parents in families where the ...more
Arindam Kar
Dec 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Before I was ever subjected to racism, I was subjected to colorism. The subtle, and not so subtle, references within my culture that being "fair-skinned" was "good" occurred at a young age. Family members, Indian products and commercials (oh the memories of Fair & Lovely cream) all perpetuated this myth. It had a profound impact on my youth.

Fast forward to today. I am a husband and father in a cross-cultural family. I was drawn to this book so I could better understand the dynamics of
This is an interesting study of “colorism”: the preferential treatment of lighter-skinned people over those who are of a darker complexion. We all know of the favoured treatment of white people over blacks, but Tharps also studies how other groups view skin colour, the treatment of different skin tones within the same ethnic group and, often, the biases of skin tones within the same immediate family. The book covers history, social impact, and is also very personal in that she interviews ...more
Barbara White
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fascinating book! Lori Tharps not only shares how colorism has affected her own life, but shares how other families deal with different colors in their families. This is an eye-opening book that I feel would be a great read for high school students to learn about diversity and how it can work within the confines of an individual family.......and beyond. Thanks to Goodreads First Reads, Beacon Press, and Lori Tharps for a copy of Same Family, Different Colors. I look forward to reading ...more
Ms. Reader
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review...

This is a fantastic book for blended families, who come from different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicity. Coming from a very large family (we are white, but I have one niece who is part-black and another niece who is part-Hispanic), this book gave me an incredible insight! It is very well-written and well put together.

I highly recommend this book.
Reviewed for ALA's "Booklist Online" -- appears December 2, 2016. You do *not* need a subscription to read my review at at:
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a really amazing look at colorism. As opposed to many other books about the same topic it leans more on personal stories than academic research.
Anthony Browski
Didn't have time to read it.
Sep 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written book about colorism within interracial families and how it affects each member. I hadn't ever really considered this subtle racism before.
Beth Janus
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Lori L. Tharps is an assistant professor of journalism and author based in Philadelphia, PA. She writes about issues of cultural diversity, race, identity politics and parenting.

She is a graduate of Smith College and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Visit Lori at or at her blog: