Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk about Race and Identity

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Overview

In Black, White, Other journalist Lise Funderburg presents the lives and views of forty-six adult children of black-white unions. Topics include love and marriage, racism in the workplace, and bringing up children in a racially divided world.

The New York Times lauded the book as "important...an example of how we can talk about race with feeling, humor, and dignity." The Buffalo News said that the "pages seethe with a tapestry of life....No book is more likely to force a reader ...

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Overview

In Black, White, Other journalist Lise Funderburg presents the lives and views of forty-six adult children of black-white unions. Topics include love and marriage, racism in the workplace, and bringing up children in a racially divided world.

The New York Times lauded the book as "important...an example of how we can talk about race with feeling, humor, and dignity." The Buffalo News said that the "pages seethe with a tapestry of life....No book is more likely to force a reader to confront his beliefs about race than this one." Numerous readers responded that they had waited their whole lives for this book.

The first book ever to explore the lives of adult children of black-white unions, Black, White, Other is for the millions of biracial Americans, and for everyone who is interested in the subject of race and the prospects for achieving true pluraism in America.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688143473
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/1995
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Parents and Family

One time I got the flour out, and when my dad came home, I had covered myself in flour, from head to toe. My dad asked me what I was doing, and I told him, "I'm gonna be one color. "

And he said, "Why are you going to be white"

I said, "Because we don't have any black powder." And he looked at me, and he just kind of shook his head, and I asked him, I said, "Dad, what am I?" And he told me that I was a beautiful little girl.

"No, Dad, that doesn't work. What am I really?"

"What do you want to hear? What do you want to be?"

"I don't know what I want to be. I just don't understand why I have to be anything; I don't understand what's going on. "

Finally he told me, "Well, you're black and you've got really nice hair. Does that sound good"

"Well, I guess so. "

And he said, "Okay, that one will work for a couple of years. Go with it. "—Sandra Shupe, p. 188



My grandmother raised me. She grew up not far out of slavery and experienced a lot of prejudice. She always told us to be careful of whites and don't trust white people. She would talk about poor white trash, and I remember asking her, "Was my mama poor white trash?" And she told me, "Yes. "—Omattee Carrasco, p. 82



When I was three years old, I was really sick. My father had ordered some medicine from the pharmacy, and since my mother and I were walking in that direction, we picked it up. My father didn't know we had, so he walks in and the woman behind the counter says, "I'm sorry, Mr. Zarembka, but your maid and your son have already come by for it. " I was a little more upset about the son part thanher thinking my mother was a maid. —Joy Zarembka, p. 324



My father never said anything about being African-American, never tried to show what that was to him. I believe he dislikes African-Americans. European-Americans, too. He hates white people because they're white people and he can't be one of them, and he hates black people because they're black people and he is one of them. Sometimes I'll go visit him and I'll try to figure out whether he wants me to be white today or black today. So I'll say, "I'm black, " and he says, "No you're not; you're blah-blah-blah. "

"Okay, I'm white. "

"No you're not; you're my baby. "

What race I should be just depends on the day, on the mood, on how much he had to drink. —Mark Durrow, p. 359



When I was thirteen, I went to the grocery store with my dad in a predominantly black neighborhood, and we went up to the checkout stand and my dad picked up Jet magazine, because he always got that. And the woman at the counter said, "Excuse me sir, that's not a TV Guide." And he looked at her and said, "I know what it is. Thank you. " And I just died. The look on his face, "Do you think I'm stupid? I know what this magazine is." I will never forget that. I just died when he said that, you know? It was so funny, and she was so embarrassed because she thought, well, what would a white guy be doing with a black magazine?

I thought it was great. I thought it was great! Because he'svery up front, and it was like, "Don't give me any shit. I'm notan idiot. "— Jacqueline Djanikian, p. 309



My mother's sister, she's black, and she used to say to me,"You're going to have to decide what you are, if you're going to be black or white. " I remember all these Christmas things with her,like if I wanted to get a black Baby That Away, or a white BabyThat Away. She would call up to ask, and I would say, "Okay, I want the black one. " And then I would call up, "No, no, I want the white one. " My parents were just too intelligent that way. They got me this Sasha doll from London that you couldn't tell if it's black or white. They really picked everything, so she has kind of my color skin and brownish hair and she could be Italian or Greek or black, who knows?— Nya Patrinos, p. 134



It takes two people to create a biracial child: a mother and a father. Like all parents, they may be largely responsible for shaping how their children see themselves and the world. What parents teach about race comes, in part, from their own experience of race.

Few interracial couples escape all the land mines that are historically placed in their paths: from being disowned by both sides of the family to the occasional stare or muttered comment on the street. While some couples would respond to such treatment with bitterness or might even retreat from each other, others remain steadfast in their commitment to one another and to the family they have created together.

It wasn't until 1967, in the U.S. Supreme Court's Loving v. Virginia decision, that remaining antimiscegenation laws (still on the books in sixteen states at the time) were overruled. Richard and Mildred Loving were the appellants in the case. In 1958 the newlywed Lovings were arrested in their Virginia hometown for being married to each other. She was black, he was white. Rather than face incarceration, they moved back in with their respective parents, then moved together to Washington, D.C., where they lived for several years.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2001

    Great book!

    The issue of biracial people has always interested me, especially because I am mixed. My father is half African-American and my mother is white. Most people think I'm hispanic, but when I tell them I'm part black, some people have a weird reaction. My grandparents didn't think it was a good idea for my parents to marry each other because they knew that many people wouldn't accept it. But they have six gorgeous children and eleven beautiful grandchildren. Two of their children became lawyers, one is a professional athlete and I am a dentist. They don't regret their decision one bit!

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