Pre-Order / Sold Out: Color of the Skin by Mitiku Ashebir

Pre-Order / Sold Out: Color of the Skin by Mitiku Ashebir

Smith & Hannon Bookstore

$ 19.95

This is a collection of books curated by Joyce Smith, our neighbor and owner of Smith and Hannon Bookstore, the only Black-owned bookstore in Cincinnati. Joyce does not have a website with a selling function, so we are listing books that Joyce has selected. 100% of proceeds go directly to Smith & Hannon Bookstore.

* Note: Some books will not ship immediately - we will let you know as soon as possible when your book will be shipping! Due to high demand for certain books, some titles are on backorder. If the book is sold out and you are interested in purchasing, please email to be placed on a waitlist. 

Color of the Skin talks about the color of human skin, which ironically does not exist. However, rather than rejecting the premises of traditional awareness about skin color, the book uses existing perceptions as departure points in examining the inherent characteristics and social trappings surrounding skin color. The book defines the subject, namely color of the skin, with considerable precision, elaborating on its various aspects by dialing forward accounts of ponderings that occurred far back in time and place but that are still fresh and substantive. It successfully distills a few fundamental concepts that widely contrast--in some instances, clash--with existing, popularly known, and commonly understood notions concerning skin color.

The book provides comparative descriptions in settings representing two countries: Ethiopia, where color of the skin is straightforward, literal, and simple, where it is used primarily for identifying people, and the United States, where color of the skin is heavily loaded, complex, formal, institutionalized, and often political. The parameters in each abode provide adequate details, indicating the scope and implications of the consequences of the resultant attitudes, actions, and practices thereof, especially in the latter.

The author proposes that color is a continuum by hosting a virtual tour through reading trips from the equator out in four directions--north, east, west, and south--narrating all the way, describing and interpreting the topography of human color, which cascades in all directions. Further, the writer suggests that no two persons will have the same color tone, spread, and texture. This is equivalent to saying that there is an individual color but there is no group color. It is close to saying that color of the skin is like fingerprints--each person's being different from the next. So the gross color division of black and white may be salvaged only when used for convenience and only for immediate references. Any effort to institutionalize and formalize color betrays its natural constitution and thereby compounds the social, economic, and political problems that it has caused.

Progressively, the book postulates credible concepts that demonstrate grouping people into black and white is arbitrary, is subjective, and worse, in very significant ways, is often prodded with intentional and exploitive motives. The book invites readers to imagine the reverse of the current world order surrounding the color of skin, putting everyone in good view to appreciate what the world might look like if fortunes tagged to color lines were overturned around the world. The scenario presented under the section "Imagining the Reverse" is one of the light parts of the book, but at its core, the discourse here is indeed about a very serious matter.