After the "Black is Beautiful" movement of the 1960s, black body politics have been overdetermined by both the familiar fetishism of light skin as well as the counter-fetishism of dark skin. Moving beyond the longstanding focus on the tragic mulatta and making room for the study of the fetishism of both light-skinned and dark-skinned blackness, Margo Natalie Crawford analyzes depictions of colorism in the work of Gertrude Stein, Wallace Thurman, William Faulkner, Black Arts poets, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and John Edgar Wideman.

Crawford adds images of skin color dilution as a type of castration to the field of race and psychoanalysis. An undercurrent of light-skinned blackness as a type of castration emerges within an ongoing story about the feminizing of light skin and the masculinizing of dark skin. Crawford confronts the web of beautified and eroticized brands and scars, created by colorism, crisscrossing race, gender, and sexuality.

Crawford is an associate professor of African American Literature in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts. She received her doctorate in American Studies from Yale University. Professor Crawford is the co-editor of New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement (2006, Rutgers University Press) and author of Dilution Anxiety and the Black Phallus (2008, Ohio State University Press).