Written by Bryan T. Clark
We have all heard the expression, “never judge a book by its cover”. As human’s, once upon a time, long ago, it was likely a survival mechanism to quickly assess ‘friend’ or ‘foe’. Get it wrong, or being too slow at it, there was a real possibility it would cost you your life.
I don’t believe in today’s world such an immediate assessment is as dire as it once was. But do we still do it, and why? Sure, people are killed everyday at the hands of a stranger, and I would never advocate being naïve or unaware in your surroundings, but do you assess everyone in your day to day life with a strong first impression? Consider the following situations.
• The woman in public, dressed in a burka, walking with her husband?… Are we quick to assess judgement on how we perceive their relationship, her self-esteem, or maybe even the man’s views on women?
• The white guy with a shaved head who is covered with tattoos?…. Thug, ex-con, or white supremacist? With knowing little else, do we attempt to put him in box with a label?
Even in each of our own cultures, we have developed a spectrum of opinions where others fall somewhere along the line. I know that in the ‘brown skin’ cultures, some have the attitude that to be darker than your peers is less desirable than those with a lighter complexion.
When I was about eight years old, I remember learning that skin color mattered within the African American community where I lived. Within my own race I was often teased by other children because of my light skin and blond hair. They had many names for me that all had to do with the color of my skin. One of those nicknames was Cornbread. Laughing at me, they said the color of my skin was the same color as cornbread. Albino, High Yellow, and Half-Breed were other words used to humiliate me. Ridiculed for talking proper English, the African American kids accused me of trying to act ‘white’.
To judge a book by its cover is to form an opinion about someone or something based purely on what is seen on the surface. However, after taking a deeper look, the person or thing may be very different than what was originally presumed. As adults, what can be shocking is how quickly we are ready to make the determination of ‘friend’ or ‘foe’, even when it’s not a matter of life or death?
Speaking of judging a book by its cover, and on a lighter note, I bet some of you even do this when looking for a book to buy and read. The first thing that will probably grab your attention is the cover of the book. Based solely on the cover, you may decide whether a particular book is for you or not.
I was talking shop with a very well-known author several months ago and the topic of book covers came up. I noticed that in the twenty-five plus books she has written, that although every one of her covers were different, they all had two things in common. She made sure the position of the title of the book and the placement of her name were in their own designated spot on the cover. In addition, the font size and type were all matching on every cover. She found something that works for her and created her brand. Her books are easily identifiable just by the cover. You can tell a James Patterson or Nora Roberts book when you see it because of the consistent look of the cover.
Read more: Do We Judge a Book By its Cover?