On rare occasions, when my skin contrasts with a white shirt, or the humidity enhances the curliness of my hair, people might recognize me as the Black man that I am.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-08-31 14:12Z by Steven

I am a descendant of slaves and slave owners. My mixed heritage extends back as far as I can trace my ancestry. I have light beige skin, loosely curly brown hair, an angular nose, a small mouth, and brown almond-shaped eyes. I never know how others read my racially ambiguous appearance. On rare occasions, when my skin contrasts with a white shirt, or the humidity enhances the curliness of my hair, people might recognize me as the Black man that I am. Most of the time, they accept me as an ethnic variant of a broadly conceived whiteness. People are occasionally curious, and they try to press me for details.

Herb Harris, “I Was Expecting a Black Guy by Herb Harris,” Hippocampus Magazine, January 8, 2021. https://hippocampusmagazine.com/2021/01/i-was-expecting-a-black-guy-by-herb-harris/.

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I Was Expecting a Black Guy by Herb Harris

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2021-08-30 18:30Z by Steven

I Was Expecting a Black Guy by Herb Harris

Hippocampus Magazine: Memorable Creative Nonfiction

Herb Harris

Peering over wire-rimmed glasses, the Vice President of Clinical Research looked directly at me for the first time since we sat down for the job interview and said, “I was expecting a Black guy.” There was no trace of humor in his comment.

At our greeting there had been a firm handshake, but no smile. Tall, portly, and balding, his presence conveyed gravitas and corporate seniority.

There was a long stretch of silence. I sat on a low uncomfortable couch, trying to maintain an impossible posture that appeared to be both relaxed and engaged. My back was aching from this contradiction, as I struggled to contain my shock at the inappropriate remark.

I had not been asked about race at any point in the application process. There had been no boxes to check, and no personal demographic information was ever requested. Whatever had created this expectation in the Vice President’s mind, he was disappointed. The person before him did not appear to be Black…

Read the entire article here.

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INTERVIEW: Davon Loeb, Author of The In-Betweens

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2020-09-12 22:26Z by Steven

INTERVIEW: Davon Loeb, Author of The In-Betweens

Hippocampus Magazine: Memorable Creative Nonfiction

Interview by Amy Eaton

Davon Loeb

The Book: Beginning with the challenges of how his White father and Black mother met, with their desire “to run away and start fresh and new”—resulting in a sometimes “pretend family”—to a near-archetypal description of his grandfather having just cut the grass as the author watches with a swollen lip and a black eye, to incessant moments in which different expressions of masculinity get inculcated, Davon Loeb frequently captures the disturbing poesy of life growing up. With painstaking detail, this work is in the vein of James McBride’s ‘The Color of Water’, Justin Torres’s ‘We the Animals’, and Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘Annie John’, ‘The In-Betweens’ is a meditation on bruise and healing. Loeb’s struggles become snapshots of how transformation occurs even where shards have been piled, where one waits “for something to happen, like flashes of red and blue sirens pulsing.” A truly extraordinary new voice! ~ Roy G. Guzmán, author of Restored Mural for Orlando

The author: Davon Loeb is the author of the lyrical memoir The In-Betweens, out now with Everytime Press. He earned an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers-Camden, and he is a poetry editor at Bending Genres. Davon writes creative nonfiction and poetry. His work has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and one Best of the Net, and is forthcoming and featured in PANK Magazine, Barren Magazine, XRAY Magazine, Apiary Magazine, Split Lip Magazine, Tahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere. Besides writing, Davon is a high school English teacher, husband, and father in New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter

AE: Your mother is such a powerful figure in the book. You’ve got your father, who you don’t see for the first time until you’re seven? And then you start seeing him sort of consistently? It feels that your stepfather is the man you feel closest to, the man that you look up to, that you’re aspiring to be, but the women in your book: your mother, your grandmother are just solid rocks in there.

DL: That was intentional. In the chapter, But I’m Not Toby, I emphasize my mother trying to teach me about Black history and what it means to be a young Black man. She’s the strong maternal voice that I think is special in a lot of Black communities. For me, that was special—especially with the uncertainty of my fathers. I wanted to make her really the most consistent character throughout the book, and I do believe I succeeded at that…

Read the entire interview here.

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