In the Western world, black is most often used with a negative connotation. The reasons for this are various, but the most widely accepted explanations are that night is experienced by humans as negative and dangerous. A secondary reason is that stains are most visible as dark additions to pale materials. In traditional class-based cultures "pale" skin indicated genteel domestic or intellectual indoor-work as opposed to rough outdoor labor in the fields. Aspects of this black/white opposition are not unique to the West, as, for example in the Indian varna system. African and African-American writers such as Franz Fanon, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Ralph Ellison in particular identify a number of negative symbolisms surrounding the word "black", arguing that the good vs. bad dualism associated with white and black provide prejudiced connotations to color metaphors for race.

  1. A "black day", in these cultures, would refer to a sad or tragic day. The Romans already marked fasti days with white stones and nefasti days with black.
    • e.g. the Black September in Jordan refers to a month in which thousands were killed.
    • Black Monday, stock crash of October 19, 1987
    • Black Tuesday is the day of the stock market crash in 1929 which is the start of the Great Depression.
    • Black Wednesday caused Britain to pull out of the ERM(European Exchange Rate Mechanism ).
    • Black Thursday, date preceding the stock crash of October 29, 1929, forecasting the stock market crash and the Great Depression
    • Black Friday, various tragic events.
  2. many poems and songs use the word black negatively (e.g. Paint it black (Rolling Stones), Baby's in black (Beatles), Black eyed dog (Nick Drake).
  3. In these cultures, the color black is often used in painting, film, and literature to evoke a sense of the fear or to symbolize death. It has also been adopted a symbolic color of the Halloween festival.
  4. In English heraldry, black means darkness, doubt, ignorance, and uncertainty. (The American Girls Handy Book, p. 370)
  5. Black is often a color of mourning. Historically, widows and widowers were expected to wear black for a year after the death of their spouses.
  6. Black comedy is a form of comedy dealing with morbid and serious topics.
  7. Black magic is an evil form of magic, often connected with death.
  8. In computer security, blackhat is an attacker with evil intentions.
  9. A blacklist is a list of undesirable persons or entities.
  10. Evil witches are sterotypically dressed in black and good fairies in white. Melodrama villains are dressed in black and heroines in white dresses. In many Hollywood Westerns, bad cowboys wear black hats while the good ones wear white. Funeral dress is black, wedding gowns are white.
  11. The black-market is illegal.
  12. Blackmail is illegal and is perceived as immoral.
  13. The black sheep of the family is the ne'er-do-well.
  14. The infamous "black hole of Calcutta."
  15. To black-list someone is to put them on a "bad" list.
  16. To blackball them is to block them from being admitted.
  17. Black thoughts are dark ones.
  18. A black mood is a bad one (e.g. Winston Churchill's depression, which he called "my black dog").
  19. A black cat usually means bad luck.
  20. If you sink the black eight-ball in billiards, you lose. (The ball with which you sink all others is the white cue ball.)
  21. A black mark against you is a bad thing.
  22. A dark night is "black as hell".
  23. A black-hearted person is mean and unloving.
  24. Black propaganda is the use of known falsehoods, partial truths, or masquerades in propaganda to confuse an opponent.

Read more about "Positive symbolism and Uses" in non-judgemental ways.