In one sense, Blair-Reed’s The Color of Hate is the story of how one thoughtless act of infidelity can crack a family apart. In another sense, it is the story of how racism can place unbearable stresses on an African American family. The two main characters of the novel, Doris and Shaun McDaniel, both have ancestors who were slaves, and both are conditioned by generations of family struggles against racism.
The narrative takes place against the backdrop of the ‘60s and ‘70s when racism is still a major thread in the fabric of the South. Doris is an educator and politician who works tirelessly to eradicate inequities for her people. Shaun is a financier who mainly just wants to get along. Although the two have different approaches, they live in relative harmony until Shaun has an affair with a white woman. Doris cannot forgive him for this transgression.
Matters worsen when Kathleen, the white woman, dies under mysterious circumstances, and Shaun brings his daughter by Kathleen home to live with Doris and their two children. Doris suspects Shaun may have killed Kathleen. Shaun suspects Doris may have killed her. The family lives in constant fear of being found out. The resolution of the mystery surrounding Kathleen’s death and the family tensions that spring from it, form the matter of the novel.
The Color of Hate takes on weighty issues and has the potential to be a strong novel. It is marred, however, by lack of development of the supporting characters, who are so alike as to be interchangeable. The author also has a tendency toward needless repetition, as though she does not trust the reader to get her ideas the first, or even the second time. These all detract from the strong plotline. With some work, however, this novel could appeal to thoughtful readers interested in matters of equity, family relations, and civil rights.
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