Mixed: My Life in Black and White [NOOK Book]


""Love has no color," insist Angela Nissel's parents, but does it have a clue? In this candid, funny, and poignant memoir, Angela recounts growing up bi-racial in Philadelphia - moving back and forth between black inner-city schools and white prep schools - where her racial ambiguity and doomed attempts to blend in dog her teen years. Once in college, Angela experiments with black activism (hoping to find clarity in extremism), capitalizes on her "exotic" look at a strip club, and ends up with a major case of the blues (a.k.a. a racial-identity
... See more details below
Mixed: My Life in Black and White

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price


""Love has no color," insist Angela Nissel's parents, but does it have a clue? In this candid, funny, and poignant memoir, Angela recounts growing up bi-racial in Philadelphia - moving back and forth between black inner-city schools and white prep schools - where her racial ambiguity and doomed attempts to blend in dog her teen years. Once in college, Angela experiments with black activism (hoping to find clarity in extremism), capitalizes on her "exotic" look at a strip club, and ends up with a major case of the blues (a.k.a. a racial-identity problem). Later, after moving to Los Angeles, she discovers that being multiracial is no less complicated when it comes to dating and romance. Yet Angela is never down for the count." By turns a comedy of errors and a moving coming-of-age chronicle, Mixed traces one woman's journey to self-acceptance and belonging.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"Tell anyone who asks that you're half-black and half-white, just like David Hasselhoff from Knight Rider." Her mother's advice provided Angela Nissel with a quick comeback, but it did nothing to enhance her sense of racial identity. After her parents' divorce, she and her brother spent much of their time bouncing helplessly between all-black inner-city schools and lily-white prep academies. With one foot shakily in each camp, Angela battled with her own heritage; during one mental hospital stay, she was diagnosed with, among other things, "racial identity syndrome." With striking candor and wit, this paperback original captures the predicament of one "mixed" but resolutely undiluted woman.
Publishers Weekly
Are you black or white?" That question has plagued Nissel, a light-skinned child born to a white father and black mother, since birth; she tackles it with honesty and aplomb in this witty memoir about the years she spent in West Philadelphia during the 1970s and '80s. Whether recalling an oral report on fellow "mulatto" David Hasselhoff that she gave in the third grade ("He's half black because my mother said he is!") or the way she "act[ed] like a 'tard" to escape bullies or her descent into depression (and stay at a psych ward) during her first year at U. Penn, Nissel-a former staff writer for the NBC sitcom Scrubs-infuses her coming-of-age tale with humor and pathos. Nissel's accounts of her college interlude at the "crazy spa" and her attempt at exotic dancing-where she can "play up the cultural thing"-are particularly illuminating. While the former episode helps conquer her fear of outside judgment (with the help of three dementia-stricken old white ladies, no less), the latter smacks her back down, reminding her that maintaining one's own sense of personal identity-free from societal and racial molds-is a daily struggle. Though she often presents herself as less fortunate than she really was, Nissel's writing is very funny and very sharp. (Mar. 21) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-As a light-skinned child born to a black mother and a white father, Nissel has constantly grappled with the question of racial identity. Growing up in West Philadelphia during the 1970s and '80s, she came of age trying to figure out who she was and where she fit. She encountered bullies and interesting friends and teachers, and experienced the turmoil of race-conscious dating. She had a bout of depression while in college, and took on a variety of odd jobs, including one night as an exotic dancer. Through all of this she struggled to maintain her own sense of self in spite of societal views. Nissel is insightful, funny, and a person with whom many readers wll identify.-Shannon Seglin, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From the executive story editor of Scrubs, a terrific memoir about her Philadelphia childhood. Nissel's mother, a Black Panther from West Philadelphia, married a white man from upstate Pennsylvania; together they had two children. "Where are you from?" was the refrain Nissel and her brother most often heard from whites; from blacks, it was, "You talk white." Determined to find her niche, she tried to become "more authentically black" by wearing cornrows, which lasted until she dived underwater at the local pool. She also considered Judaism, reflecting, "They have their own school and their own language. It's like a club." (A friend replied: "Well, for your sake, it'd better be a nice club because being black and Jewish, you won't be able to get into any other ones.") After her philandering father abandoned them, the family moved frequently, living-and earning equal doses of scorn-in neighborhoods both poor and wealthy. While a student at the University of Pennsylvania, Nissel posted an online journal about her financial struggles that was later published as The Broke Diaries (not reviewed). But it wasn't poverty that led to her brief hospitalization for clinical depression during college; despite her quips about racism, endless queries regarding her ethnicity proved wearing. A fellow student in what Nissel jokingly refers to as the "Nation of Islam Lite" broke off their friendship, citing as her reason, "a child is the race of his father." During a temporary gig with the IRS, a white female coworker asked her to recommend books about "the black experience." Eventually, Nissel decided to try her fortunes on the West Coast, where she seems to be thriving. Readers will be grateful that she'swilling to revisit her challenging past: Colorful anecdotes, marvelous dialogue and a thoughtful narrative make this memoir a delight. A well-crafted portrait of growing up biracial in the United States.
From the Publisher
Praise for Mixed
“I love Angela Nissel's writing. Reading Mixed was like getting a letter from a best friend I forgot I had. How ironic that a book written by someone who felt like no one "got" her will surely be one of those rare books everyone gets- black, white, both, neither. Hilarious, sweet, and honest, Mixed is the perfect read if you've ever felt like the one standing on the outside-- and let's face it, who hasn't? - -Jill Soloway, author of Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants

“Nissel is humorous, poignant, and proud yet also empathetic and generous as she recounts her constant struggle to answer the perennial question persons of mixed race seem required to ask of themselves in our society–where do I fit in?.... All readers stand to learn from her account.” — Booklist

“Colorful anecdotes, marvelous dialogue and a thoughtful narrative make this memoir a delight.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"If David Sedaris was a straight biracial female, this is the book he'd write. This book is so funny I've already started telling people I helped Angela write it." -- Bill Lawrence, creator of Scrubs

"Growing up black and white, I always felt I had the best of both worlds. I feel the same way about Mixed. It's the perfect blend of hilarious comedy and sometimes tragic reality."
-- Yvette Lee Bowser, creator of Living Single and executive producer of Half and Half

"Mixed is a hilarious must-read for anyone searching for the enchanting path to self-discovery. Angela Nissel's precise account of living the mixed race experience not only hit home with me, but the journey is deliciously enlightening and heart-rending at the same time. It's a journey well worth taking." --Halle Berry

Praise for The Broke Diaries:
“Unsentimental prose and [a] wicked sense of humor.”–USA Today
“Searing, laugh-out-loud commentary.”–Honey

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307416094
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/18/2007
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • File size: 337 KB

Meet the Author

Angela Nissel was born and raised in Philadelphia, where she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in medical anthropology. She later started a dotcom, Okayplayer.com, which is still alive and well, but she left it permanently to the care of its cofounder after The Broke Diaries was published. She decided to pursue writing full time and finally ventured out of Philadelphia to Hollywood.

Upon arriving in Hollywood, she learned that just because people call themselves producers and say they can give you a job writing the screenplay of your book, it doesn’t mean they can. Broke, she put a few possessions on eBay; the winning bidder on one item was an executive at Warner Brothers who had read The Broke Diaries and who then introduced Nissel to her television literary agent. This agent sent copies of The Broke Diaries to everyone hiring comedy writers, and soon Nissel had numerous job offers. She accepted a position as a staff writer on NBC’s medical comedy, Scrubs. She’s been there for four years and is currently consulting producer of the show.

This is the only job she’s had where her medical anthropology degree has come in handy.

Visit the author’s web site at www.angelanissel.com.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


By Angela Nissel

Random House

Angela Nissel
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0345481143

Chapter One

White Thug, Black Panther
"Mom, how did you and Dad meet?" I asked my mother
over the phone. It was close to her bedtime. I was praying she was
drowsy so I could catch her off guard.
"Reverend Rob says hi," my mother replied, in a tone that
meant my man is sitting next to me, so I'm not going to talk about your father.
It always happens. I bring up my father, and suddenly my
mother's favorite Lifetime movie is on or her fiance is there and
she just has to catch me up on how his mortuary classes are coming
"Guess what he told me? The more fat you have, the more
slowly you decompose," she continued.
It's not that I don't love hearing about Reverend Rob's adventures
in the death-care industry, and I'm certainly glad my mother
has found love after thirty years of being single. She and Reverend
Rob make an adorable couple. He's five foot four; my mother is
five foot zero. I'm taller than both of them, and looking down at
the sight of them in tiny love is so cute, sometimes I have to restrain
myself from patting them on their heads. It's like you could
just stick them on top of their own wedding cake and serve it.
I know my mother doesn't enjoy talking about my father, especially
in front of her fiance. It took months before she even felt
comfortable telling him that herex-husband was a white man.
"I'm a little worried what he's going to think," she said to me,
about a week before she confessed her vanilla sin. Reverend Rob
wasn't shocked; he just laughed and pointed to a picture of my
mother, my brother, and me. "Come on, now," he said. "Unless you
adopted your kids, that's pretty obvious."
My husband and I are the same race (African American and
everything else except Asian), the same religion, and lived less
than two miles from each other, yet it took us one-year subscriptions
to Match.com and six months of e-mails and chatting before
we met. If it took all that for us to find each other, how in the world
did my mother, a Black Panther from West Philly, meet and marry
a white guy from a small town in upstate Pennsylvania? I don't
even think my father had black people in his hometown; I remember
being six years old and taking long rides to visit his relatives.
"Where are the sidewalks?" I asked my mother from the backseat
of our Ford Granada.
"I don't know," she said. "They seem to just disappear once you
get out of the city, don't they?"
"Where are the black people?" I asked, later on in the trip. She
gave me the same answer she had for the sidewalks.
I gave up on probing into my mother and father's dating life that
evening and called a few weeks later. After listening to details of
Reverend Rob's latest mortuary lesson (bargain coffins may not be
such a bargain), I tried a slight variation on my original question
about my mother and father's romance.
"Mom, what did you think of Dad when you first met him?"
"I thought he was black," she replied.
Oh. My. God. Who approved my mother's Black Panther application?
If she couldn't tell the difference between a black man and
a white man, how effective could she have been at fighting the
Man? How could she ever think my green-eyed, freckle-faced,
sandy-haired father was black? He's so pale that my mother's postdivorce
code name for him was Master Alabaster, as in "Girl, I have
to go to court again. Master Alabaster hasn't paid child support for
six months, but I saw him driving a brand-new car."
There was silence on my mother's end of the line. I started
laughing so hard I coughed and had to throw down the phone for
a moment to compose myself.
"You okay? Get some water! Get some water!" my mother, always
the nurse, yelled through the receiver.
"How could you think he was black?" I choked out between
"What do you mean, How could I think he was black? He lived
on my block!" my mother said, and started laughing herself. "There
were no white people except his mother for miles around! He had
a black stepdad, and all his friends were black. I just thought he
was mixed and came out really light." Her voice lowered. "I was
naive, I guess. I was naive about a lot of things.
"To be sure about his race, I asked him about it on our first
date. He had taken me to an oldies night, and we were dancing. In
the middle of one of our dance moves, I just came out and asked
him, 'Are you white?' He said, 'Yep.' He told me he was born in an
all-white town in Pennsylvania and moved to West Philly when his
mother got remarried to a black man.
"I thought, Oh, Lord, what have I gotten myself into? We kept
on dating, though. People looked at us like we were crazy. I had a
very big Afro and a very white man on my arm.
"You have to understand, I worked for the Black Panthers in
their free clinic as a nurse and I worked for the Medical Committee
for Human Rights. I probably have an FBI file; I was deep into
Power to the People. Some folks didn't understand how I could be
with your dad. People had a misconception that Black Panthers
hated all white people. They didn't understand that I could fall in
love with a white man and still work for social justice.
"The people who were the most vocal about us dating were the
black men. Black men would shout right at me, 'You trying to look
black with your big Afro, but you're not black!' "
My mother stopped talking. Maybe she was thinking of the
guys who judged her for being with a white guy; perhaps she was
figuring out that their disapproving reactions were why it took her
so long to tell Reverend Rob that her ex-husband is white. Or
maybe she was wondering why she didn't run off and be with a
black man when she had the chance. Once, when my mother
found out my father was cheating on her, I heard her on the phone
crying to her best friend, "I knew I should have married that
African prince in college! He was good to me, and he was rich! He
took me to Macy's and told me to pick out anything I wanted!"
Later that day, I informed her that if she had married the
prince, she wouldn't have been blessed with me (conceited at eight
years old!). My mother's face dropped with the realization that I
had overheard her conversation. She put her hands on my shoulders
and said she wouldn't give me up for anything in the world,
not even to be an African princess with a high-limit Macy's account.
Faced by my mother's silence, I had to think of a question that
would lead her to tell a story. My mother will spill her guts about
anything as long as she gets to tell a long, animated story while
doing it. She sometimes preaches the children's sermon at her
church, and all week leading up to Sunday, she practices her storytelling
choreography in front of a mirror. Her arms flail at her sides
as she pretends she's outrunning and ducking imaginary sins. She
sometimes recites her own poems to the children, the subject matter
of which is often black pride. I remember a pastor coming up
to her after a particularly Afrocentric sermon. "You used to be
married to a white man?" he asked. "I just don't believe it."
"Mom, what did Dad do when black guys would step to you
about being with him?"
My mother laughed again. I heard her rise from her sofa to
start the story. "Your father was crazy. He'd be all up in their faces,
trying to fight them. More than one date ended with me saying,
'Jack, please. Let's just go.'
"Of course, no one could believe I actually married the white
man, but the biggest shocker was when I had you. I was head nurse
at the city hospital back then, so I knew nurses all over town. I
knew some in Pennsylvania Hospital, where you were born. Some
of the nurses there hadn't seen me in years and only knew me as
this militant Black Panther.
"When I was in the hospital recuperating from having you, this
nurse who knew me from college saw how white you were and
checked the wristband three times before she gave you to me. I had
to say 'Yes, this is my baby' many times during the days after you
were born."
My mother started laughing again, then yawned. I told her to
go to sleep, but she ignored me. No story goes unfinished with her,
especially if she's not paying the long distance charges.
"I had to share a room with a white lady, and she was not too
happy about my chocolate butt being in the room with her. She
wouldn't even speak to me. Soon after they brought her in, her
electric hospital bed started folding up, with her and her baby in it.
She had just had a C-section and couldn't move too well, so I
grabbed her baby and snatched the plug out of the wall to make
the bed stop folding up on her. Then she had the nerve to start
screaming like I was trying to steal her baby and didn't even thank
me for getting her baby out of the bed.
"As if on cue, your dad walks in to see how I'm doing. The
white lady still hadn't recovered from the shock of being eaten by
her own hospital bed, and then in comes a white man to kiss me
on the lips! That lady looked like she wished the bed would eat her
back up again.
"When your dad left, she was steaming. Then one of the big
doctors at the hospital comes in to see me. We had both volunteered
at the Human Rights Committee together. He nods to her,
and goes by her bed, walks right up to me, and says, 'Hey, Gwen,
you still head nurse at City?' Her eyes got so big. Her whole world
changed that day.
"The next day, I said good morning to the woman and she
wouldn't say anything back. So later, a nurse came in while I was
holding you and asked your name. I said, 'Angela'; then, loudly, I
added, 'After Angela Davis!' just to make her think she was sharing
the room with a radical.
"But that wasn't right. I didn't name you after Angela Davis. I
named you after I saw your face. You looked just like an angel, and
I knew there was no other name I could give you."
Damn, I kinda wanted to be named after Angela Davis. Oh, well.
I heard my mother's microwave go off. The beep seemed to jolt
her out of reminiscing. Her voice lowered. "I have to go," she said.
"Okay," I said, a little saddened at the abrupt ending. Hearing
the disappointment in my voice, she perked up.
"Did I tell you I'm on Weight Watchers again? I get weighed in
tomorrow. I'll call and let you know how much I've lost! If I could
get back down to the size I was when I had you, I'd be a foxy
"Okay, good night, foxy mama," I replied, hanging up the
phone and reminding myself to update my mother's slang on my
next visit home.
After I hung up, I wondered if there was a Black Panther alumni
newsletter and if my mother had recently sent in an update.
Gwen Nissel '74 writes to say that she regularly chats
about Weight Watchers points with her half-white daughter.
Though she no longer actively participates in the revolution,
she is happy to announce that the divorce from the white
man finally went through and she is now engaged to a black
Baptist preacher.

Excerpted from Mixed by Angela Nissel Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)