“I am Black,” Jane Lazarre’s son tells her. “I have a Jewish mother, but I am not ‘biracial.’ That term is meaningless to me.” She understands, she says—but he tells her, gently, that he doesn’t think so, that she can’t understand this completely because she is white. Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness is Jane Lazarre’s memoir of coming to terms with this painful truth, of learning to look into the nature of whiteness in a way that passionately informs the connections between herself and her family. A moving account of life in a biracial family, this book is a powerful meditation on motherhood and racism in America, the story of an education into the realities of African American culture. Lazarre has spent over twenty-five years living in a Black American family, married to an African American man, birthing and raising two sons. A teacher of African American literature, she has been influenced by an autobiographical tradition that is characterized by a speaking out against racism and a grounding of that expression in one’s own experience—an overlapping of the stories of one’s own life and the world. Like the stories of that tradition, Lazarre’s is a recovery of memories that come together in this book with a new sense of meaning. From a crucial moment in which consciousness is transformed, to recalling and accepting the nature and realities of whiteness, each step describes an aspect of her internal and intellectual journey. Recalling events that opened her eyes to her sons’ and husband’s experience as Black Americans—an operation, turned into a horrific nightmare by a doctor’s unconscious racism or the jarring truths brought home by a visit to an exhibit on slavery at the Richmond Museum of the Confederacy—or her own revealing missteps, Lazarre describes a movement from silence to voice, to a commitment to action, and to an appreciation of the value of a fluid, even ambiguous, identity. It is a coming of age that permits a final retelling of family history and family reunion. With her skill as a novelist and her experience as a teacher, Jane Lazarre has crafted a narrative as compelling as it is telling. It eloquently describes the author’s delight at being accepted into her husband’s family and attests to the power of motherhood. And as personal as this story is, it is a remarkably incisive account of how perceptions of racial difference lie at the heart of the history and culture of America.
"I am Black," Jane Lazarre's son tells her. "I have a Jewish mother, but I am not 'biracial.' That term is meaningless to me." In this moving memoir, Jane Lazarre, the white Jewish mother of now adult Black sons, offers a powerful meditation on motherhood and racism in America as she tells the story of how she came to understand the experiences of her African American husband, their growing sons, and their extended family. Recounting her education, as a wife, mother, and scholar-teacher, into the realities of African American life, Lazarre shows how although racism and white privilege lie at the heart of American history and culture, any of us can comprehend the experience of another through empathy and learning.
This Twentieth Anniversary Edition features a new preface, in which Lazarre's elegy for Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and so many others, reminds us of the continued resonance of race in American life. As #BlackLivesMatter gains momentum, Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness is more urgent and essential than ever.
Following World War II, the Allied Powers occupied Japan from 1945 to 1952, leaving a human legacy: thousands of children of Japanese mothers fathered by men from Australia, the United States, New Zealand, India, and Britain. These mixed-race offspring, and often their mothers, faced intense discrimination.
Based on interviews with or research on 150 konketsuji—a now-taboo word for "mixed-blood" Japanese—journalist Walter Hamilton presents vivid first-person accounts of these adults as they remember their experiences of childhood loss. Using archival material from organizations dedicated to assisting the children, he combines moving personal tales with historical and political analyses of international race relations and immigration policy, particularly in North America and Australia.
Not only were attitudes and behaviors of the Japanese biased against the mixed-race children, but so were the restrictive and prejudicial immigration policies of the fathers’ native countries. Japan’s racial intolerance was fully matched in the nations it fought against. Hamilton examines how attitudes about race relations have evolved and traces the impact of racial ideology on national policy and cultural identity in Australia, Japan, and the United States.
When the Baby Boom generation was in college, the last miscegenation laws were declared unconstitutional, but interracial romances retained an aura of taboo. Since 1960 the number of mixed race marriages has doubled every decade. Today, the trend toward intermarriage continues, and the growing presence of interracial couples in the media, on college campuses, in shopping malls and other public places, draws little notice.
Love's Revolution traces the social changes that account for the growth of intermarriage as well as the lingering prejudices and false beliefs that oppress racially mixed families. For this book, author Maria P. P. Root, a clinical psychologist, interviewed some 200 people from a wide spectrum of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Speaking out about their views and experiences, these partners, family members, and children of mixed race marriages confirm that the barriers are gradually eroding; but they also testify to the heartache caused by family opposition and disapproving strangers.
Root traces race prejudice to the various institutions that were structured to maintain white privilege, but the heart of the book is her analysis of what happens when people of different races decide to marry. Developing an analogy between families and types of businesses, she shows how both positive and negative reactions to such marriages are largely a matter of shared concepts of family rather than individual feelings about race. She probes into the identity issues that multiracial children confront an draws on her clinical experience to offer child-rearing recommendations for multiracial families. Root's "Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People" is a document that at once empowers multiracial people and educates those who ominously ask, What about the children?
Love's Revolution paints an optimistic but not idealized picture of contemporary relationships. The "Ten Truths about Interracial Marriage" that close the book acknowledges that mixed race couples experience the same stresses as everyone else in addition to those arising from other people's prejudice or curiosity. Their divorce rates are only slightly higher than those of single race couples, which suggests that their success or failure at marriage is not necessarily a racial issue. And that is a revolutionary idea!
At the turn of the twentieth century W.E.B. DuBois predicted that the central problem facing the United States in the new century would be that of the “color line.” Now, at the beginning of a new century, we find many people straddling the color line. These people come from the growing number of multiracial families in America, families who search for places of comfort and familiarity in a racially polarized society whose educational system, places of worship, and neighborhoods continue to suffer a de facto segregation. This group has provoked an ever-widening debate and an upheaval in traditional racial thinking in the United States.
Through in-depth interviews with individuals from black–white multiracial families, and insightful sociological analysis, Heather M. Dalmage examines the challenges faced by people living in such families and explores how their experiences demonstrate the need for rethinking race in America. She examines the lived reality of race in the ways multiracial family members construct and describe their own identities and sense of community and politics. She shows how people whose own very lives complicate the idea of the color line must continually negotiate and contest it in order not to reproduce it. Their lack of language to describe their multiracial existence, along with their experience of coping with racial ambiguity and with institutional demands to conform to a racially divided, racist system is the central theme of Tripping on the Color Line. By connecting the stories to specific issues, such as census categories, transracial adoption, intermarriage, as well as the many social responses to violations of the color line, Dalmage raises the debate to a broad discussion on racial essentialism and social justice.
Exploring the dynamic of race as it pervades the lives of those close to the color line, Dalmage argues that the struggle for racial justice must include an understanding that race is a complex construct that is constantly shifting, and is something we do rather than something we simply are.
Troubling the Family argues that the emergence of multiracialism during the 1990s was determined by underlying and unacknowledged gender norms. Opening with a germinal moment for multiracialism—the seemingly massive and instantaneous popular appearance of Tiger Woods in 1997—Habiba Ibrahim examines how the shifting status of racial hero for both black and multiracial communities makes sense only by means of an account of masculinity.
Ibrahim looks across historical events and memoirs—beginning with the Loving v. Virginia case in 1967 when miscegenation laws were struck down—to reveal that gender was the starting point of an analytics that made categorical multiracialism, and multiracial politics, possible. Producing a genealogy of multiracialism’s gendered basis allows Ibrahim to focus on a range of stakeholders whose interests often ran against the grain of what the multiracial movement of the 1990s often privileged: the sanctity of the heteronormative family, the labor of child rearing, and more precise forms of racial tabulation—all of which, when taken together, could form the basis for creating so-called neutral personhood.
Ibrahim concludes with a consideration of Barack Obama as a representation of the resurrection of the assurance that multiracialism extended into the 2000s: a version of personhood with no memory of its own gendered legacy, and with no self-account of how it became so masculine that it can at once fill the position of political leader and the promise of the end of politics.
A White Side of Black Britain explores the racial consciousness of white women who have established families and had children with black men of African Caribbean heritage in the United Kingdom. Filling a gap in the sociological literature on racism and antiracism, France Winddance Twine introduces new theoretical concepts in her description and analysis of white “transracial” mothers raising their children of African Caribbean ancestry in a racially diverse British city. Varying in age, income, education, and marital status, the transracial mothers at the center of Twine’s ethnography share moving stories about how they cope with racism and teach their children to identify and respond to it. They also discuss how and why their thinking about race, racism, and whiteness changed over time. Interviewing and observing more than forty multiracial families over a decade, Twine discovered that in most of them, the white woman’s racial consciousness and her ability to recognize and negotiate racism were derived as much from her relationships with her black partner and his extended family as from her female friends. In addition to the white birth mothers, Twine interviewed their children, spouses, domestic partners, friends, and members of their extended families. Her book is best characterized as an ethnography of racial consciousness and a dialogue between black and white family members about the meaning of race, racism, and whiteness. It includes intimate photographs of the family members and their communities.