Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, Philosophy on 2019-05-18 15:30Z by Steven

Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race

W. W. Norton
2019-10-15
2018 pages
5.5 × 8.3 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-60886-1

Thomas Chatterton Williams

A meditation on race and identity from one of our most provocative cultural critics.

A reckoning with the way we choose to see and define ourselves, Self-Portrait in Black and White is the searching story of one American family’s multigenerational transformation from what is called black to what is assumed to be white. Thomas Chatterton Williams, the son of a “black” father from the segregated South and a “white” mother from the West, spent his whole life believing the dictum that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person black. This was so fundamental to his self-conception that he’d never rigorously reflected on its foundations—but the shock of his experience as the black father of two extremely white-looking children led him to question these long-held convictions.

“It is not that I have come to believe that I am no longer black or that my daughter is white,” Williams writes. “It is that these categories cannot adequately capture either of us.” Beautifully written and bound to upset received opinions on race, Self-Portrait in Black and White is an urgent work for our time.

Note from Steven F. Riley: See Chatterton Williams’ article “Black and Blue and Blond” in the Volume 91, Number 1 (Winter 2015) edition of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Tags: ,

Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, United States, Women on 2019-05-04 20:27Z by Steven

Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Atheneum Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Simon and Schuster)
September 2019
288 pages
Hardcover ISBN 13: 9781534440838
eBook ISBN 13: 9781534440852

Katherine Johnson

The inspiring autobiography of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who helped launch Apollo 11.

Throughout Katherine Johnson’s extraordinary career, there hasn’t been a boundary she hasn’t broken through or a ceiling she hasn’t shattered. In the early 1950s, she joined the organization that would one day become NASA, and which had only just begun to hire black mathematicians. Her job there was to analyze data and calculate the complex equations needed for successful space flights. As a black woman in an era of brutal racism and sexism, Katherine faced daily challenges and often wasn’t taken seriously by the scientists and engineers she worked with. But her colleagues couldn’t ignore her obvious gifts—or her persistence. Soon she was computing the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s first flight and working on the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first men on the moon. Katherine’s life has been a succession of achievements, each one greater than the last.

Katherine Johnson’s story was made famous in the bestselling book and Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. Now in Reaching for the Moon she tells her own story for the first time, in a lively autobiography that will inspire young readers everywhere.

Tags: , , , , ,

Born Biracial: How One Mother Took On Race in America

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-04-27 01:32Z by Steven

Born Biracial: How One Mother Took On Race in America

Memories Press
2019-05-01
250 pages
6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1733908818
Paperback ISBN: 978-1733908825
eBook ISBN: 978-1733908801

Susan Graham

The Birth of a National Civil Rights Movement

Susan Graham is the White mother of two biracial children whose father is Black. Born Biracial: How One Mother Took on Race in America is the true story of how she brought an invisible population to the forefront and started the multiracial movement. She started a simple advocacy group and turned it into a national civil rights movement. Along the way, her personal life was suffering. The emotional story of her marriage to a CNN news anchor, being a mother to biracial children, divorce, and remarriage are interwoven in her life’s story. This is the one story every interracial family should read.

Tags: , , ,

Discovering the Illusion: An Interview with T Kira Madden

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Gay & Lesbian, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-04-21 16:56Z by Steven

Discovering the Illusion: An Interview with T Kira Madden

Asian American Writers’ Workshop
2019-03-18

Pik-Shuen Fung


T Kira Madden, Photo by Jac Martinez

“Magic and writing, it’s all misdirection, defamiliarization, and at its best, the ahhhhh moment of surprise.”

Nothing is steadfast in the childhood of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, only a slow unraveling. An only child born out of an affair between her wealthy white shoe-brand father and her Chinese-Hawaiian model mother, [T Kira] Madden went back and forth between the chaos of her home, where her parents struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, to the misery of her Boca Raton private school, where she faced ostracism as a queer biracial girl.

Madden writes, “I wanted love the size of a fist. Something I could hold, something hot and knuckled and alive.” To contain, to hold, to be vulnerable—these intense desires both shape and propel her exploration of grief, trauma, pain, and forgiveness. Composed as a kaleidoscope of darkly shimmering fragments, this courageous debut memoir is the documentation of one woman’s attempt to write down and rewrite her own history, so as to make space for more love.

I had the chance to speak with T Kira on a freezing afternoon in January. She welcomed me into her cozy home, where there were glowing candles, a pot of roasted buckwheat tea, and two energetic poodles who insisted on sitting around for the conversation…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , ,

The Mouse Room

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-04-21 16:44Z by Steven

The Mouse Room

She Books (An imprint of She Writes Press)
2014-03-31

Susan Ito, Instructor
Bay Path University, Longmeadow, Massachusetts

Susan Ito is a struggling college student, a young adult on the cusp of parental independence, when she meets her birth mother for the first time. Instead of launching into adulthood, she finds herself entangled in longing for this new kind of mother love where she sees her own self, mirrored in mysterious and tantalizing ways. At the same time that she explores the genetic threads that bind her to this stranger, she works as the “mouse girl,” caring for hundreds of experimental mice in a medical research laboratory. The relationship with her birth mother is as tormented as any partially requited love story: waiting by the phone, haunting the mailbox, and pacing the floor wondering about a promised visit that may or may not happen. Meanwhile, she tracks the intricate family trees of the hordes of squeaky rodents in her care. Memoirist, fiction writer, and solo performer Susan Ito explores themes of family, identity, DNA, and love in this unique and poignant story.

Tags: , ,

Illustrating the Messy Reality of Life as an Interracial Family

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Interviews, United States on 2019-04-21 14:51Z by Steven

Illustrating the Messy Reality of Life as an Interracial Family

The Atlantic
2019-04-12

Amal Ahmed


Mira Jacob / Courtesy of Penguin Random House

In her new graphic memoir, the author Mira Jacob documents conversations about love and race with multiple generations of her family.

When the novelist Mira Jacob’s son was 6, he started asking her a lot of questions about race and identity. It started with Michael Jackson: Was he brown or black or white, and what did he like best? Then his questions took a more serious turn: Was it bad to be brown in America? Though he was only 6, Jacob’s son, who is biracial, was old enough to understand the news at the time, which was fixated on the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white cop shot a black teenager. He wanted to know whether white people were afraid of brown people. And what about his own father, who was white? Was he ever scared of brown people?

Jacob didn’t always know how to answer him in the moment. She remembered the confusing conversations about race and identity that she’d had as a child herself, growing up in one of the few South Asian families in New Mexico. But having those conversations with her son in the years leading up to Donald Trump’s presidency made her realize that there weren’t any easy answers to the question of what it means to grow up as a person of color in the United States.

Even though she’s a writer by trade, Jacob couldn’t find the words to describe what she was feeling. She often felt paralyzed thinking about the hurtful comments she might receive online if she did write openly about those tricky conversations. But she still felt the urge to record them somehow, and that led her to producing a memoir in the form of a graphic novel. The book, Good Talk, spans from her childhood in New Mexico to her more recent arguments with in-laws who wanted to vote for Trump and who she felt weren’t listening to her concerns about his racist rhetoric on the campaign trail…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , ,

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-04-21 14:38Z by Steven

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

Penguin Random House
2019-03-26
368 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780399589041

Mira Jacob
Brooklyn, New York

“How brown is too brown?”
“Can Indians be racist?”
“What does real love between really different people look like?”

Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.

Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.

Tags: , ,

A Queer, Biracial Coming-of-Age Memoir Is Equal Parts Pain and Pleasure

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-04-20 01:57Z by Steven

A Queer, Biracial Coming-of-Age Memoir Is Equal Parts Pain and Pleasure

The New York Times
2019-04-19

Tessa Fontaine


Janice Chang

T Kira Madden, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, A Memoir (New York: Bloomsbury, 2019)

The tribe of fatherless girls that make up T Kira Madden’s titular chapter are three high school friends bonded by loss, lust, recklessness and love. But the tribe extends much further, shape-shifting throughout the memoir from youthful friendships to romantic partners, from a nuclear family to a revision of that family history. Though the tribe expands, Madden’s devoted, imperfect relationships with girls and women form the centrifugal force around which her story spins. This is a fearless debut that carries as much tenderness as pain. The author never shrinks from putting herself back into the world after every hurt, and we are lucky for it.

The memoir is told in fragmented chapters, many of which read like self-contained essays. They are arranged into three mostly chronological sections that follow Madden’s life from early memories to the death of her father when she is 27. Madden renders her mourning viscerally: “My hands — they are never not shaking,” and yet still, when she falls asleep, “it’s the women who come first.”…

Read the entire book review here.

Tags: , , ,

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, A Memoir

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2019-04-20 01:00Z by Steven

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, A Memoir

Bloomsbury
2019-03-05
336 pages
16 B&W illustrations throughout
5 1/2″ x 8 1/4″
Hardback ISBN: 9781635571851
EPUB eBook ISBN: 9781635571868

T Kira Madden

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

Acclaimed literary essayist T Kira Madden’s raw and redemptive debut memoir is about coming of age and reckoning with desire as a queer, biracial teenager amidst the fierce contradictions of Boca Raton, Florida, a place where she found cult-like privilege, shocking racial disparities, rampant white-collar crime, and powerfully destructive standards of beauty hiding in plain sight.

As a child, Madden lived a life of extravagance, from her exclusive private school to her equestrian trophies and designer shoe-brand name. But under the surface was a wild instability. The only child of parents continually battling drug and alcohol addictions, Madden confronted her environment alone. Facing a culture of assault and objectification, she found lifelines in the desperately loving friendships of fatherless girls.

With unflinching honesty and lyrical prose, spanning from 1960s Hawai’i to the present-day struggle of a young woman mourning the loss of a father while unearthing truths that reframe her reality, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls is equal parts eulogy and love letter. It’s a story about trauma and forgiveness, about families of blood and affinity, both lost and found, unmade and rebuilt, crooked and beautiful.

Tags: , , , ,

Mixed Up: ‘Being white-passing has definitely entitled me to privileges’

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, United Kingdom on 2019-04-18 00:51Z by Steven

Mixed Up: ‘Being white-passing has definitely entitled me to privileges’

METRO.co.uk
2019-04-17

Natalie Morris, Senior lifestyle Writer

Siobhan Lawless
(Picture by Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk)

Siobhan Lawless is a writer. She is Jamaican and Irish, with east and south Asian elements thrown in for good measure.

‘My mum is second generation Jamaican and my dad second generation Irish – although my great grandparents on my mum’s side are also part Indian and Chinese,’ Siobhan tells Metro.co.uk.

‘On dad’s side, nana is from Longford and grandpa was from County Galway in Ireland. On mum’s, grandma and grandad are from St Catherine’s and St Elizabeth, parish towns in Jamaica.

‘Both sides of my family came from large households and farming backgrounds. They came to England as immigrants in their teens and early twenties, hoping Britain would open up more opportunities for their children – even though this move came with its own challenges.’…

…For so many mixed-race people, where you fit in the world depends on how other people perceive you. For Siobhan, her lighter skin places her closer to whiteness, but there are complications alongside the privilege….

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,