“Historically, in the United States, if you had one drop of black blood, you were defined as black. You had various names for people who looked as white as their master, but they were defined as black. I didn’t grow up identifying as black because of that — for me it was more about pride, culture and my parents’ politics.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-12-31 04:29Z by Steven

“Historically, in the United States, if you had one drop of black blood, you were defined as black. You had various names for people who looked as white as their master, but they were defined as black. I didn’t grow up identifying as black because of that — for me it was more about pride, culture and my parents’ politics. But Maria, like me, walks into a room and people don’t see that she’s black. She deals with that as a conflict more than just the fact of being mixed. If you pass as white in the world but know yourself not to be white, you’re privy to all those uncensored comments about black people that other black people sort of in liberal circles are shielded from. You’re constantly aware of this kind of mask falling away.” —Danzy Senna

Eleanor Wachtel, “Danzy Senna’s darkly comic take on racial identity,” Writers & Company with Eleanor Wachtel, CBC Radio, June 15, 2018. https://www.cbc.ca/radio/writersandcompany/danzy-senna-s-darkly-comic-take-on-racial-identity-1.4707804.

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Danzy Senna’s darkly comic take on racial identity

Posted in Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-12-31 04:21Z by Steven

Danzy Senna’s darkly comic take on racial identity

Writers & Company with Eleanor Wachtel
CBC Radio
2018-06-15

Eleanor Wachtel, Host


Danzy Senna’s novel New People follows graduate student Maria through bohemian Brooklyn in the 1990s as she wrestles with her identity and her future. (Mara Casey)

American novelist Danzy Senna draws on her experience growing up in an interracial family in her edgy, prize-winning fiction. In her latest novel, New People, she writes with insight and subversive humour about what it means to be half-black and half-white.

Senna was born in Boston in 1970 to parents from very different worlds, who wed a year after interracial marriage became legal. Her mother, the poet and novelist Fanny Howe, came from a privileged background, with English/Irish family roots going back to the Mayflower. Her father, the African-American editor and academic Carl Senna, grew up in poverty in the South, the son of an orphaned black mother and absent Mexican father. In her 2009 memoir, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History, Senna traces her father’s family story and her own complicated upbringing following her parents’ breakup when she was five years old. Raised with an acute black consciousness, during a time when, as Senna describes it, “‘mixed’ wasn’t an option; you were either black or white,” she brings to all her writing an awareness — and astute analysis — of class, race and identity…

Read the entire story here. Listen to the full episode (00:54:47) here.

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