Notice how Cameron Gomes’ “Black is Beauty” offers a comment not only about the strict subject of the piece, the color black, but also perhaps, society’s often negative views of race and, in particular, black bodies. As you read, consider both how the story functions both literally and metaphorically. Ask yourself: why might a writer attempt to take on an issue as difficult as racial prejudice through the story about an anthropomorphic color? Is there a story you want to share or a statement you want to make that might be most effectively told using metaphor?
My whole life I have been excluded from my colleagues. The humans that I have spent my whole life working for have shown me nothing but disrespect and blasphemy. I am the color black. I have always tried to fit in and make the colors around me happy. I took a backseat when the colors were deciding who would make up the rainbow, I stepped back whenever we were deciding on how nature should look, and I even stayed quiet when we were being assigned to the color wheel. I now realize that my appeasing has gone too far. My fellow colors will not even consider me one of their own anymore, and the humans have associated me with evil and negativity. In the Webster dictionary, humans have even gone as far as defining me as “the absence of color”. Although black is defined as possessing no color; I am beautiful and necessary to make other colors shine.
It all started when people began creating stories. In human stories, there is always a protagonist and an antagonist. The colors had to get together when these stories began and decide who was to represent the different aspects. I let the other colors choose what they wanted to be before I took my place in the stories. After watching the other colors discuss what they wanted to do, I knew what role I wanted to play; I wanted to complement the other colors. I wanted my darkness to illuminate Yellow’s shine; I wanted my shadow to brighten Red’s desire; I wanted my mist to enhance White’s purity. My plan worked for the other colors because the humans were enamored with them. However, the humans did not appear to see me as a complement. Instead, I began to represent everything the humans feared and hated. All of my work to make the other colors shine has only shamed my name.
I thought that the other colors would appreciate my sacrifice, but they soon began to side with the humans. The colors started to exclude me from new human creativity. They did not tell me about kaleidoscopes, laser lights, or megapixels. They did, however, let me in when it came to ink blot tests, asphalt, and the most disliked flavor of licorice. I truly understood that both the humans and colors had turned their backs on me when the color wheel was invented. One day, humans decided to make an organization and classification system for us colors. We were all so excited about where we would be placed and who we would be paired with. My excitement quickly turned to anguish once the humans had completed their color wheel, and left me off of it. Their reasoning? “Black is the absence of color,” they said. “There is no place for it here.” I have been here longer than any other color, spent my whole life making sure that the other colors were noticed, and in return I was deemed achromatic.
I don’t think people understand how life would be without me. Humans have been so quick to get rid of me with their artificial nightlights and their scented candles that it seems that if given the option, they would completely get rid of me. What they don’t know is how present I am in everything they do. In the pictures they take, I’m there to give objects depth. In the paintings they create, I’m there to make the artificial appear real. I took control of the night so when the sun went to rest, the people would know to rest as well. I have never wanted to hurt or scare people. I have always been there to make their lives more beautiful and believable, and they don’t realize that I have accomplished that goal. If I were to be removed from the humans’ most beautiful paintings, their art would be nothing. The Mona Lisa would be formless, the mountains behind her would be nothing, and her clothes would look like sheets of paper. Starry Night would be reduced to swirls of blue and spots of yellow. The other colors are the focus of famous paintings, but without me, they would be nothing.
People have also forgotten my practical uses in their everyday lives. Ever since Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla worked on using electricity, humans have been trying to find more ways to keep me out of their homes. The night used to be a time of rest and sanctuary, but now people think it is dangerous and frightening. It all comes back to when they started creating their stories. Human villains began working at night, monsters lived in the dark, ghosts would snatch souls from dreams, and evil’s one goal was to spread darkness across the planet. These are the stories that humans tell their children; the stories that humans have convinced themselves are real. I was used in the night to tell people it was time for them to rest. There is no evil in the dark. I was placed in the night so that people could take a break from looking at the other colors and rejuvenate their bodies. Many humans hardly sleep today because they fear the one thing that was meant to give them rest and peace. The night was supposed to be quiet and tranquil, but now it is just as bright and distracting as the day.
I have spent centuries letting the other colors represent beauty, but recently I have been showing the humans that I can be beautiful too. With the help of White I have begun to create art that people will appreciate as much as the other colors, and the timing is more ideal now than any other in human history. Humans have gone through phases ever since they came into existence. The first phase that people went though was the desire to create new things that express their creativity. The first camera was invented in 1685 and allowed people to capture their most precious moments in a way totally unique to anything they ever had before, and they did this same thing with the invention of the computer and tablet. The next phase that people went through was the desire to innovate and add on to the tools they had invented. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Polaroid continued to change and innovate the machines that the humans used. People were tired of black and white photos so they innovated and created color pictures. They were tired of their cameras being large so they shrunk them down. Today, the third phase has started to take place: the desire for simplicity. Many humans feel that the innovation has gone too far and they desire for more simplicity in their cultures. This feeling is spreading and has given me a great opportunity to change the way people think. My partner White and I have sometimes been the only colors in an entire movie because humans like the mood we set. More and more people draw in only black because they cannot be bothered to use other colors to fill in the blanks. Photographers are starting to capture the same beautiful scenes, only this time I am the main focus of the photo’s beauty. People are beginning to agree that all of the other colors are not necessary for a work of art to be beautiful.
I don’t want to get rid of all colors, or even become the most popular color for people to express themselves. When yellow shines bright, I can see it improve the mood of the humans there as witness. I can’t think of a better way to express passion or anger than with a fiery red. I love colors just as much, if not more, than the humans do and I could never replace them, nor would I want to. I just want to be considered equal with them. When my name is mentioned to people I don’t want them to shutter. I don’t want the humans to tell each other that when you take all color away you get black. I want people to see me as color because black is beautiful too.