Color Black In Western Culture

While the history behind color is broad, there are several issues concerning its importance in the world of symbolism. The color black has progressed through a plethora of associations and definitions through the ages. In Ancient Eastern times, the hue embodied great power and magnitude, a token of wealth and rich, earthy life, yet it now alludes to evil and corruption. Despite the negative meaning the dark hue has become synonymous for, previous philosophical teachings acknowledge not only its ominous characteristics, but its positive attributes as well. A distinct difference exists between Eastern society’s perception of black and the meaning it has reached in modern day American society. The inconsistency between the teachings of early civilizations…show more content…
Western culture globalizes a negative depiction of the color black both in a symbolic and ethnic sense. With controversy framing the opposing natures of black and white, a rift exists between society’s perceptions of the color black in America versus its positive portrayal in Eastern culture. Throughout Western history, objects with black appearances have often been deemed impure and inferior. The color has come to entail all that is evil and sinful in the world, often in literature both “sacred and profane” (Baltazar 102). This “Aristotelian logic” (Baltazar 103) which dominates Western thought, embraces the color from a restricted view. Religion and mythology contribute much influence in this westernized identification. Despite the Bible’s ambivalent use of the term in…show more content…
Several psychological studies conclude that the mind has adapted universal reactions to colors. While these responses are subjective depending on the region, there are general responses that exist in relation to the human population as a whole. According to journalist Sarah Marinos, color psychology professor Jill Morton’s global studies have reported that when surveyed on the significance of specific colors “black was linked to bad luck and mourning” (70). Black now encompasses strong “association(s) with impurity” (Sherman and Clore 1020). Many have come to see black as a sign of moral pollution, “not because immoral things tend to be black, but because immorality” (Sherman & Clore 1020) contaminates much like dirtiness might taint a clean mind. Prejudice against the color black has established not only its negative connotation in language, but a deep resentment within America’s roots linked to its progression into a cultural identity. Though there appear to be no longer a “scientific justification for racial classification” (Banton 1111), there is an obvious “dualism in language” (Wilson 112) which links the color with its “cultural representations” (Wilson 112), i.e. Blacks, or African Americans. It has arrived to the point that the “achromatic hue[s]” (Wilson 113) has become defined “solely from the viewpoint of heritage” (Wilson 113). As

More about Color Black In Western Culture

Get Access