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Are Black and White Really Colors?

Mira Matic’s pick


The obvious answer is “yes”. Whenever someone asks you to list colors, black and white are some of the first ones you list. But are they really colors? I mean this as in scientifically.

Let’s analyze this properly, starting with the google definition of color:

1. the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.
“the lights flickered and changed color”

synonyms:hue, shade, tint, tone, tinge, cast, tincture.

Now, to put this more simply, color is only what our eyes perceive. The google definition of black is:



1. of the very darkest color owing to the absence of or complete absorption of light; the opposite of white.
“black smoke”

synonyms:hue, shade, tint, tone, tinge, cast, tincture.

Aha! It says here that black is the absence of light! However, right in here google says that black is a color. There is one thing we can do. The definition also states that black is the opposite of white. (If you didn’t know that already.) So a logical way to figure out which definition is right would be to find out whether white is a color or not.


1. of the color of milk or fresh snow, due to the reflection of most wavelengths of visible light; the opposite of black.
“a sheet of white paper”

synonyms:colorless, unpigmented, undyed, bleached, natural

Now this is hard. One of white’s synonyms is colorless!  ౮ ˙ /:l

Yet, a synonym of light is white. Light is color, but white is not, according to google. It’s like a triangle:

Light is white, but white is not light. White is the opposite of black, yet by scientific definitions, they are both colorless. Black is the absence of light, however google says it is a color, and color is light. What a dilemma!

We need to back up. We plunged ourselves so deep, we can’t figure things out, we muddled the facts. We should go back to color vs. black. Look at the definition and look closely again; we’re back to light and black. Now consider that color is relative, one person may see this text as black, another blue. This raises a huge question: Is color actually real? Or just a hologram to describe what isn’t there? People perceive things in different ways, and that’s not even accounting for color blindness. If this is true then what color is black really? WAIT WULFWWINGS! YOU’RE GETTING OFF TOPIC! ALL I WANTED TO KNOW WAS WHETHER BLACK AND WHITE ARE COLORS! So sue me. They can’t be colors if there’s no such thing as colors. Sadly, you’re right; maybe that’s for another article.

Assuming that color is real, we’re back to square one. Black.

I say we have pretty good grounds to believe that black is not a color, whatever google says. (Remember: Light = Color; Black = absence of light; therefore Black is not a color.) And because white is the opposite of black, that means white is color. Case Closed.


That’s not the whole story! If you are getting bored leave now, but I’m not done, not even close! In color, white is the combination of all color wavelengths.


Good timing, I was about to address that.

To color paint, people use things called pigments. I will not define that, in part because I already have, but mostly because I have too many definitions already. When you get ready to paint, you generally grab a blank canvas. The cavis is usually white; blank; free of pigmentー free of color.

Now I am going to introduce you to Kendrick. Kendrick is a two-year-old who loves to paint. Because he is a two-year-old, he cannot paint very well. (A huge apology to all two-year-olds.) His favorite thing to make is rainbows, with every single color his parents have. A little dab of this, a small dash of that, soon every color is on the canvas mixed together. It makes black.


Yep. So which really is, and which really isn’t color? Please: Comment and let me know what you think.

Credit to my sister for giving me this idea. Whew! I am Never doing that again!

One Comment

  1. Liberty Grace Liberty Grace April 8, 2019

    Interesting! This article presents arguments for both sides of the argument: that black and white are colors and that they aren’t.
    Personally, I believe that Black & White are colors.

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