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Black, White, and Jewish is the story of a child's unique struggle for identity and home when nothing in her world told her who she was or where she belonged. Poetic reflections on memory, time, and identity punctuate this gritty exploration of race and sexuality. Rebecca Walker has taken up the lineage of her mother, Alice, whose last name she chose to carry, and has written a lucid and inventive memoir that marks the launch of a major new literary talent.
ABOUT REBECCA WALKER
Rebecca Walker has written for or been featured in stories in The New York Times, The Chicago Times, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Esquire, and U.S. News & World Report, and has appeared on CNN, MTV, and Charlie Rose. She is the founder of Third Wave Direct Action Foundation, a national nonprofit organization devoted to cultivating young women's leadership and activism.
"The daughter of famed African American writer Alice Walker and liberal Jewish lawyer Mel Leventhal brings a frank, spare style and detail-rich memories to this compelling contribution to the growing subgenre of memoirs by biracial authors about life in a race-obsessed society. Her artfulness in baring her psyche will, spirit and sexuality will attract a wealth of deserved praise."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Rebecca becomes sexually active earlier than an average teenager. What is the meaning of sex in her life? How has it changed since her early experiences? Does she manage to find her true identity through her lovers? Discuss her experience with Michael and with Andrew. How does the color of their skin (Michael is black, Andrew is white) affect their relationships with Rebecca?
Q>What was your reaction to Rebecca having an abortion at the age of 14? Can you explain why she didn't grieve for her unborn child?
Q>Rebecca is candid about her experimentation with drugs. Do you think she really had a choice not to take them? Discuss how our peers can sometimes make decisions for us and why we accept their decisions.
Q>What does it mean to Rebecca to be a "movement child"? How - if at all - does the meaning change from the beginning of the book, when she sees her parents happily married, to the end, when she struggles with their uneasiness during her graduation party?
Q>Throughout her childhood and adolescence and after her parents divorced, Rebecca must make choices between her mother's African American heritage and her father's Jewish heritage. Has she found peace with herself being biracial and thus "the translator, the one in between, the one serving as the walkway between two worlds"? Or, has she chosen one over the other? Why does she feel more of an affinity towards her black ancestors?
Q>The book begins and ends with a discussion of memory. What is the meaning of memory in Rebecca's life? Does she refer to her brain's ability to retain information or to some deeper innate knowledge? What knowledge is it? What is "genetic memory"? What role does it play in our lives? How does the discussion on memory at the beginning differ from the one at the end?
Q>What is significance of the subtitle? Why does Rebecca refer to her self as "a shifting self"? Has she found a place where she is no longer "shifting"?
Posted September 10, 2001
If you want a good book about growing up Black, White, and Jewish, read The Color of Water, an insightful look into the family history of a man born to a white, Jewish mother and a black father. The problem with Walker's book is that it offers no insight or lesson into being Black, White, and/or Jewish in America. The overriding theme of her book is the loss she experienced as a child of divorce, not as a child of the Civil Rights Movement. Her book is certainly therapeutic for herself and others who suffered neglect at the hands of their well-meaning parents, but does nothing to further dialogue on race, ethnicity, or religion in the United States.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 9, 2001
A TOUCHING AND SELF HEALING STORY OF A YOUNG MULTIRACIAL GIRL WHO GREW IN A TIME OF RACISM.THIS STORY HITS VERY CLOSE TO HOME AND ITS A STORY THAT CAN STILL BE TOLD IN OUR WORLD TODAY.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 4, 2001
This book should have been titled 'And Then I Slept With...' I learned less about race and religion than I did about how much drugs and sex a girl can get into when parents fall down on the job.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 25, 2001
I don't purport to be a critic of any kind, however upon reading this book, I felt a sort of indescribable urgency to express my opinion on it.. I loved it. I read it in 3 sittings and that's rare considering my hectic schedule. But I must say, that as I read chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, I could relate to so much of this book.. but I am not of mixed heritage. I am, however, a product of having been raised in two totally different cultures, and I'm talking east vs. west. To this day, I still deal with the rigors of being one way in one place and another way in another place.. when in Rome is appropriate, I guess. This book, aside from the intelligence and thoughtfulness with which it was written, was extremely therapeutic for me to read. In the end, I found myself feeling as though I had gone through those experiences myself, and some of them, I indeed have. I found myself wanting to read more. But you couldn't ask for a better ending, and in my opinion, Ms. Walker's last words are definitely words to live by, whether you are of mixed heritage or not. It is the love for the human race that is above and beyond the most important of all. As idealistic as that may sound, I found courage in my own ways of thinking, because now I know that I'm not the only one.. As I read the last few pages, particularly the one where Ms. Walker responds to a question from her lover (in that chapter her lover asks her if she 'feels' black or white and if she 'feels' for her people and their struggle) I felt chills go down my spine... because in all honesty, I couldn't have said it better myself. It's a must read... truly. I even had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Walker in Chicago and listening to her read passages from her book. If she's touring in your city, please go see her, it will definitely be worth your while.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.