Abstracts: Black

"In the Western world, black is most often used with a negative connotation. The reasons for this are various, but the most widely accepted explanations are that night is experienced by humans as negative and dangerous. A secondary reason is that stains are most visible as dark additions to pale materials. In traditional class-based Western cultures 'pale' skin indicated genteel domestic or intellectual indoor-work as opposed to rough outdoor labor in the fields. Aspects of this black/white opposition are not unique to the West, as, for example in the Indian varna system. African, Afro-Caribbean and African-American writers such as Frantz Fanon, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Ralph Ellison in particular identify a number of negative symbolisms surrounding the word 'black', arguing that the good vs. bad dualism associated with white and black provide prejudiced connotations to colour metaphors for race."

  • Black is often a colour of mourning. Historically, widows and widowers were often expected to wear black.
  • Black comedy is a form of comedy dealing with morbid and serious topics.
  • Black magic is an evil form of magic, often connected with death.
  • A blacklist is a list of undesirable persons or entities.
  • Evil witches are stereotypically dressed in black and good fairies in white. Melodrama villains are dressed in black and heroines in white dresses. In many Hollywood Westerns, bad cowboys wear black hats while the good ones wear white. Funeral dress is black, wedding gowns are white.
  • The black market is illegal.
  • Blackmail is illegal and is perceived as immoral.
  • The black sheep of the family is the ne'er-do-well.
  • The infamous "black hole of Calcutta."
  • To "blackball" someone is to prevent admission.
  • Black thoughts are wicked ones.
  • A black mood is a bad one (e.g. Winston Churchill's depression, which he called "my black dog").
  • A black cat is superstitiously considered bad luck and linked with death.
  • If you sink the black eight-ball in billiards before all others are out of play, you lose. (The ball with which you sink all others is the white cue ball.)
  • A black mark against you is a bad thing.
  • A black-hearted person is mean and unloving.
  • Black Death, also known as the Black Plague, was a pandemic in Europe which killed tens of millions of people.

--Wikipedia, "Black"

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