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The Color Pynk

The Color Pynk
Black Femme Art for Survival

A celebration of the distinctive and politically defiant art of Black queer, cis-, and transfemmes, from the work of Janelle Monáe and Janet Mock to that of Indya Moore and Kelsey Lu.

Series: William and Bettye Nowlin Endowment

November 2022
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280 pages | 6 x 9 |

The Color Pynk is a passionate exploration of Black femme poetics of survival. Sidelined by liberal feminists and invisible to mainstream civil rights movements, Black femmes spent the Trump years doing what they so often do best: creating politically engaged art, entertainment, and ideas. In the first full-length study of Black queer, cis-, and trans-femininity, Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley argues that this creative work offers a distinctive challenge to power structures that limit how we color, gender, and explore freedom.

Tinsley engages 2017–2020 Black femme cultural production that colorfully and provocatively imagines freedom in the stark white face of its impossibility. Looking to the music of Janelle Monáe and Kelsey Lu, Janet Mock’s writing for the television show Pose, the fashion of Indya Moore and (F)empower, and the films of Tourmaline and Juliana Huxtable, as well as poetry and novels, The Color Pynk conceptualizes Black femme as a set of consciously, continually rescripted cultural and aesthetic practices that disrupts conventional meanings of race, gender, and sexuality. There is an exuberant defiance in queer Black femininity, Tinsley finds—so that Black femmes continue to love themselves wildly in a world that resists their joy.

  • Prologue: For Alice Walker
  • Introduction: Femme-inist Is to Feminist as Pynk Is to Pink
  • Part One: Pussy Power and Nonbinary Vaginas
    • Janelle Monáe: Fem Futures, Pynk Pants, and Pussy Power
    • Indya Moore: Nonbinary Wild Vagina Dresses and Biologically Femme Penises
  • Part Two: Hymns for Crazy Black Femmes
    • Kelsey Lu: Braids, Twists, and the Shapes of Black Femme Depression
    • Tourmaline: Head Scarves and Freedom Dreams
  • Part Three: Black Femme Environmentalism for the Futa
    • (F)empower: Swimwear, Wade-Ins, and Trashy Ecofeminism
    • Juliana Huxtable: Black Witch-Cunt Lipstick and Kinky Vegan Femme-inism
  • Conclusion: Where Is the Black in Black Femme Freedom?
  • Epilogue: For My Child
  • Afterword by Candice Lyons: Pynk Parlance, a Glossary
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index

Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley is a professor of Black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Beyoncé in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism, Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism between Women in Caribbean Literature, and Ezili's Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders.


"This is not just a book. This is a function. So the question is, what are you going to wear to this gathering? Omise'eke Tinsley gathers us once again, turning her brilliance to creative femmifestations of black femme fierceness in the so-called Trump Era. (Or what I prefer to think of as the Tourmaline Ascendency.) Theorists, fashionistas, sweethearts, and innovators: we are all here in loving revelation. I wear a quilted robe the color of a rose from my grandmother’s garden. I wear a hot-pynk, ribbed tank top screenprinted by a black lesbian yogi. I suggest you wear your curiousity, your vulnerability, and your desire to look like love."

—Alexis Pauline Gumbs author of Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals