Per a basic dictionary definition, yellow is a component of light, the most luminous of the primary colors, occurring in the spectrum between green and orange, with a wavelength between 570 and 590 nanometers. Part of growing up in the United States is to eventually begin associating a handful of basic colors with racial categories and, along with them, prescriptive notions of race. Together with the cognate colors white, black, red, and brown, yellow has come to signify a major racial category in the United States.

The etymology of “yellow,” in its simplest color sense, begins with the Old English geolu, which corresponds to the Old Saxon gelo, Low German gel, Middle Dutch geluw, and Indo-European ghelwo. The earliest written form occurs around AD 700 in what is among the first Anglo-Saxon alphabetical glossaries, the Epinal Glossary. The word appears in the Old English …

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