BOOKS: Race
Nappy: Growing Up Black and Female in America
Aliona L. Gibson

As an eloquent rendering of the experiences of black women coming of age in America, Gibson's memoirs strike to the heart of a generation in transition and resonate with its wit and its troubles. Using her personal experiences, Gibson examines how American standards of beauty affect women of color and their struggles for self-acceptance.

Don't play in the sun: One's woman journey through the color complex
Marita Golden

Golden paints an intimate self-portrait of her life as a dark-complexioned black woman and invites readers to take a behind-the-scenes look at the twisted and emotionally charged path of color-based discrimination that began when she was warned not to play in the sun. She succinctly details how the "light is right, black get back" mentality has permeated the African diaspora, its invasion of black institutions and how it sits just below the radar in Hollywood, athletics, news coverage and music videos. She includes stories from dozens of friends, acquaintances and experts, which as a whole suggest that blacks the world over may have been traumatized as much by colorism as they have by racism and colonialism.

The color of water, a black's man tribute to his white mother
James McBride
My rating:

The Color of Water tells the remarkable story of Ruth McBride Jordan, the two good men she married, and the 12 good children she raised. Jordan, born Rachel Shilsky, a Polish Jew, immigrated to America soon after birth; as an adult she moved to New York City, leaving her family and faith behind in Virginia. Jordan met and married a black man, making her isolation even more profound. The book is a success story, a testament to one woman's true heart, solid values, and indomitable will. Ruth Jordan battled not only racism but also poverty to raise her children and, despite being sorely tested, never wavered.

Interracial intimacies - Sex, Marriage, Identity and Adoption
Randall Kennedy

A Harvard law professor, Kennedy offers a brilliant analysis of one the most controversial areas of American race relations–interracial sex. Kennedy weaves together history, law, literature, politics, and social policy in a searing examination of how blacks and whites have intermixed since Africans were brought to the U.S. as slaves.

Tripping on the color line - Black-white multiracial families in a racially divided world
Heather M. Dalmage

Tripping on the Color Line: Black-White Multiracial Families In a Racially Divided World, by Heather Dalmage, discusses the "lived experiences" of multiracial families and family members in America. Having interviewed both members of multiracial households and children of such unions, Dalmage has successfully shed light on an element of a society centered on and rooted in the construct of race, but known only to those involved in such relationships, marriages, and families.

African Roots/ American Cultures
Sheila S. Walker

This multidisciplinary volume highlights the African presence throughout the Americas, and African and African Diaspora contributions to the material and cultural life of all of the Americas, and of all Americans. It includes articles from leading scholars and from cultural leaders from both well-known and little-known African Diaspora communities. Privileging African Diaspora voices, it offers new perspectives, data, and interpretations that challenge prevailing understandings of the Americas.

Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000
George Reid Andrews

While the rise and abolition of slavery and ongoing race relations are central themes of the history of the United States, the African Diaspora actually had a far greater impact on Latin and Central America. More than ten times as many Africans came to Spanish and Portuguese America as the United States. George Reid Andrews synthesizes the history of people of African descent in every Latin American country from Mexico and the Caribbean to Argentina. He examines how African peoples and their descendants made their way from slavery to freedom and how they helped shape and responded to political, economic, and cultural changes in their societies.

The Black Girl Next Door: A Memoir
Jennifer Baszile

Baszile grew up in an affluent Southern California suburb, a postsegregation child in a not quite integrated world and "the only black girl in my class, my grade, and my school besides my sister." In this craftily structured memoir, Baszile carries the reader at a leisurely, but in no way slack, pace through her girlhood and adolescence, maintaining both her young vulnerability and her sophisticated adult perspective. In trips to her parents' childhood homes–big city Detroit for her mother, deep country Louisiana for her father–she sees their (and her own) African-American pasts.

The History of White People
Nell Irvin Painter

Who are white people and where did they come from? Elementary questions with elusive, contradictory, and complicated answers set historian Painter's inquiry into motion. From notions of whiteness in Greek literature to the changing nature of white identity in direct response to Malcolm X and his black power successors, Painter's wide-ranging response is a who's who of racial thinkers and a synoptic guide to their work.