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The Difference Between a Redbone and a Yellow Bone

The Difference Between a Redbone and a Yellow Bone

Our races and ethnic backgrounds tell us where we belong, where our ancestors are from, and what are our roots. After all, keeping in touch with your roots is important.

There are many terms that are used to refer to someone’s race or cultural background, and they are mostly regarded as slang terms. But what do these terms mean?

Here are the key differences between Redbone and Yellow Bone:

RedboneYellow Bone
Light skinnedLight skinned with a yellowish undertone
Mixed RaceAfrican-American
Difference between Redbone and Yellow Bone

Today we are going to talk about two different terms used to refer to skin color, Redbone and Yellow Bone.

The difference is merely about one being lighter than the other but why just stop there? Let’s dig more into it!

What does Redbone mean?

A person who is called a Redbone is light-colored Afro-American with a warm undertone of the skin. They are a little darker than the Yellow Bones.

The reason for this kind of different skin coloration in people is the mixture of ethnicity which came up with another group of an ethnic group. Isn’t that cool?

People often confuse Redbones with Yellow Bones and Yellow Bones with Redbones because there is a little bit of difference between them both which can be understood by either the community itself or by someone who has known these people for a long time.

What does Yellow Bone mean?

A Yellow Bone is a person who has yellowish undertones or cool undertones. These people have a mixed ethnic background.

Yellow bones are a shade lighter in comparison to Redbones. Distinguishing both of these undertones can get quite difficult as no one is standing with a shade card to figure out the difference. It is a matter of how one looks at the other.

In most cases, Redbones and Yellow Bones can only tell the difference between each other.

Some people also refuse to understand and accept that there is even any difference between a Redbone and a Yellow Bone but someone who has known any of these people will know that the difference is real.

Two women
Yellow Bones are considered lighter than Redbones

What tribe do they come from?

Redbones and Yellow Bones have their own communities and ethnic background.

Starting off with the Redbones. In American history, these are the earliest documented race of mixed ethnic communities. They do not belong to any ethnic group but they are one of their own kind.

They are a mixture of Native Americans, Africans, Spanish and English people. They are the residents of Southwest Louisiana in the center of Louisiana and the name Redbones was given to them when they migrated here.

After coming to Louisiana, Redbones married into French, Spanish, and Irish families. Redbones are often confused with creoles but they are not!

Heading towards the Yellow Bones. This term is considered to be a compliment a black woman or black man can get on their skin tone. The term also means “rare to see” which makes it to be the most wanted compliment for the community.

A woman smiling
Redbones are a mixture of ethnicities.

What does High Yellow mean?

High Yellow is simply what one African-American says to another when the latter one has yellowish undertones.

The term “High Yellow” or “High Yella” is often considered a compliment and is mostly used privately among the community.

People from this community often take these terms as an offense if an outsider uses them. It is their thing and we should respect that!

Check out this video and learn more about the difference between the color of skin.

The difference between Light Skin, Redbone, and Yellow Bone.

What culture is Redbone?

Redbone is used to refer to mixed-race Americans, especially ones residing in Louisiana.

In Lousiana, people who identified as Redbones often come from families who were migrants or had ancestral ties to migrants during the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.  

Members of the Redbone community ended up living in three different areas:

  • Ten Mile Creek
  • Bearhead Creek or Beauregard Parish
  • Newton County

Members who lived in Ten Mile Creek bore the nickname Ten Milers along with Redbone while the ones who found themselves in Texas were referred to as Mulattos.

The term Redbone was not tied to a particular race. They were referred to people based only on their appearance. It could be towards Natives, African Americans, or even white people.


The terms Redbones and Yellow Bones are used to refer to the skin color of a certain person. Redbones have a warm, reddish undertone and the Yellow Bones have cool and yellowish skin colors.

The term Yellow Bone is often directed toward African-American women whereas Redbone is towards those with mixed ethnicities, often residing in Lousiana.

There is a lot of history behind these terms but generally, people are now using them as slang.

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