Presents the diversity that has always been the hallmark of Black psychology, exploding the myth that self-hatred is the dominant theme in Black identity


Shades of Black

Diversity in African American Identity

William E. Cross, Jr.

paper EAN: 978-0-87722-949-0 (ISBN: 0-87722-949-X)
$32.95, Dec 91, Available
cloth EAN: 978-0-87722-759-5 (ISBN: 0-87722-759-4)
$49.95, Feb 91, Out of Print
296 pp

"There is not a comparable book that pulls together all of the literature on race attitudes as Cross has done. This is an excellent book; it should be widely read."
Harriette McAdoo, Howard University

In this controversial and path-breaking book, William E. Cross, Jr., presents the diversity and texture that have always been the hallmark of Black psychology. Shades of Black explodes the myth that self-hatred is the dominant theme in Black identity. With a thorough review of social scientific literature on Negro identity conducted between 1936 and 1967, Cross demonstrates that important themes of mental health and adaptive strength have been frequently overlooked by scholars, both Black and White, obsessed with proving Black pathology. He examines the Black Power Movement and critics who credit this era with a comprehensive change in Black self-esteem. Allowing for a considerable gain in group identity among Black people during this period, Cross shows how, before this, working and middle class, and even many poor Black families were able to offer their progeny a legacy of mental health and personal strength that sustained them in their struggles for political and cultural consensus.


"In his book, Mr. Cross presents the results of his close re-reading of the original data from the literature on black identity from 1939 to 1967. Almost without exception, he says, the scholars involved committed two significant errors: They drew conclusions about adult identity from the results of research among preschool-aged children. In addition, they used measures that assessed social attitudes—views about racial identity—but interpreted their findings as if they had also measured elements of personality, such as self-esteem and self-hatred."
The Chronicle of Higher Education

"A major contribution to the scholarship on Black psychological identity.... Cross has carefully addressed this dominant thesis of psychology, and successfully brought it under a new scientific jurisdiction."
James M. Jones, University of Delaware

"[Cross] is a respected scholar with a distinguished record. His credibility as an expert on 'Black Identity' is established. A book of this sort is long overdue."
Walter R. Allen, UCLA



Part I: Rethinking Self-Hatred
1. Landmark Studies of Negro Identity
2. Empirical Research on Group Identity and Personal Identity
3. Testing the Lewinian Hypothesis
4. Issues of Imposition, Self-Hatred, and Celebration

Part II: the Psychology of Nigrescence
5. Black Militancy and the Psychology of Nigrescence
6. Rethinking Nigrescence

Appendix: Summary of Forty-Five Studies of Black Identity


About the Author(s)

William E. Cross, Jr., is a psychologist and Associate Professor in the Africana Studies and Research Center of Cornell University.

Subject Categories

African American Studies


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