Vanilla, Cinnamon and Dark Chocolate: The Color of Love
by Edwina Louise Dorch
This fast-paced contemporary, novel, set in Los Angeles, can be read on a beach day. Yet, this is Black Literature in the Black Arts Movement tradition exploring how to overcome the trauma associated with colorism. Rejecting Wilderson’s ’Afro pessimism’, the lives of three women reveal how to decolonize and emancipate our minds per Ngg and how to achieve ’collective consciousness’ per H bl.
Vanilla, a Black woman of Puerto Rican ancestry favors the song, The Girl From Ipanema in that she is ’tall and tan and young and lovely’ and like Sam Cooke’s song says, "her daddy is rich and her mama is good lookin".
Her brother, Howard, has a massive blond afro, olive skin, and green eyes, and is a deputy district attorney. He is vain and his fate is signaled by Proverbs 16:18 which prophesizes that -
"Pride goeth before destruction."
Cinnamon, a Black woman with Native American ancestry is ’gobsmacked’ by Howard and engages in magical thinking about him, saying to herself, "you’re gonna love me" - evoking Jennifer Holiday’s torch song in Dreamgirls.
Dark Chocolate who has Nigerian almond eyes, high cheekbones, full lips, and a baby son is in danger - conjure up archetypical Madonna and Child Christian iconography.
Class differences are a backdrop for this tale that has both feminist and religious overtones i.e., the use of Georgia O’Keefe paintings and Biblical passages. Overall, the plot is a guidebook for leading a Freeburg-type ’counterlife’ and for healing and liberating our collective post-colonial lives as it weaves Nina Simone jazz, Annie Lee art, and Alvin Ailey ballet.