Pinky 1949 is the film adaptation of the Novel Quality written by Cid Ricketts Sumner. The film was directed by John Ford and Elia Kazan.

In the film a young fair-skinned woman named Pinky passes for white when she goes to nursing school in the north. While there she falls in love with a white man who doesn’t know she’s black. Pinky returns home to the south and must decide whether to run away again with the man she fell in love with or to stay and embrace her life as black woman. 

It’s rather progressive for 1949, but perhaps still problematic to the contemporary palate.

It’s a particularly good example of racism vs. colorism. Even though her skin is the same color as theirs, whites still mistreat Pinky once they discover she’s black.

Here I give a few of my favorite lines from the film. WARNING! SPOILER ALERT.

Ms. Em: Nobody deserves respect as long as she pretends to be something she isn’t. … Just prove that you’re addicted to the truth like you pretend. Wherever you are, be yourself.”

Pinky: What’s rational about prejudice? … I don’t want to get away from anything. I’m a negro. I can’t forget it, and I can’t deny it. I can’t pretend to be anything else. I don’t want to be anything else. … You can’t live without pride.

Click here to learn more about the Pinky. Or watch the clip below.

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