black_shadow5Why are so many African Americans unhappy in their relationships, in their families and in their own bodies? Facing the Black Shadow is an intimate look at the ways black people struggle against the pervasive belief in black inferiority – the “black shadow.” This groundbreaking book offers a new way to challenge that belief and move from self-blame and self-hate to understanding and empowerment. Written by Dr. Marlene F. Watson, one of the country’s foremost African American couple and family therapists, Facing the Black Shadow is filled with memorable stories and examples from her therapy practice and her own personal journey. Readers will find practical advice, step-by-step exercises and inspiration to transform their relationship to their own “black shadows” and find happiness, connection and healing.


We are looking for therapists and clients who have experienced cross-racial therapy and who are willing to be interviewed for FACING THE WHITE SHADOW or participate in a Philadelphia-area focus group.

In her groundbreaking 2013 book, FACING THE BLACK SHADOW, Dr. Marlene F. Watson describes how the myth of black inferiority casts a “black shadow” over the psyches of most black people, affecting their attitudes and assumptions about themselves and others based on skin tone. Since slavery, African Americans have unconsciously passed along and internalized the myth of black inferiority, which is at the root of many chronic problems for black people, including pervasive feelings of shame; subtle and overt privileging of family members whose skin tone and features are more “white”; intimacy issues in couples; feelings of anger and hopelessness in youth, and more. FACING THE BLACK SHADOW offers practical ideas for how to talk back to the black shadow, challenge the myth of black inferiority and nurture empowering beliefs about being African American.

In FACING THE WHITE SHADOW, Dr. Watson and her co-author, Laura Markowitz, will describe the myth of white superiority and how this “white shadow” leads most white people to believe—consciously and unconsciously—that lighter skin means superior intellect, morality, capabilities and beauty. FACING THE WHITE SHADOW will explore the many ways the black shadow and white shadow interact to create and maintain racism on the individual, relational and societal levels. The authors will investigate the ways the white shadow prevents white people from seeing racism, which is at the root of chronic social problems that affect everyone, including violence, poverty and social injustice. FACING THE WHITE SHADOW will offer ideas and examples for how we can all stop perpetuating myths about race so that true healing becomes possible.

Participant confidentiality is assured. To participate, please contact Dr. Marlene F. Watson at or Laura Markowitz at