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The Color Line

Awhile back I saw an episode of the Oprah Show where Oprah Winfrey revisited some previous stories relating to race.

(Link to information and a transcript of the show:

One story was about a young man who took a potentially dangerous drug to turn himself black in order to see what that would be like.  (Similar to the author of Black Like Me, John Howard Griffin) His name is Joshua Solomon, and he only lasted a week before he was ready to turn his skin back to white.

I found his story online:

That story struck me, and reminded me of some of the books I have read that have “the color line” as a key part of the story.  The books that I remember tell someone’s story and I think we can all learn from other folks stories and experiences.

This does not even begin to touch on the incredible amount of information out there, but here are a couple of books that I have read and recommend:

Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black, by Gregory Howard Williams (now President of the University of Cincinnati), is the story of a boy who, after living with his mother as a white boy until the age of 10, finds out that his father is black and goes to live with him.  He finds himself looking white but being treated as being black, while not fitting in with the black kids either.  His award-winning memoir tells his remarkable story.

Another book is Turning White: A Memoir of Change, by Lee Thomas, is a totally different kind of story about a black man, a newscaster, who has the skin disease vitiligo, which turns part of his skin white.  His memoir is about his experience with this disease as someone whose job involves being in front of a TV camera.

While not a book, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy McIntosh, is a well-known essay on white privilege written in 1988.  The essay has not been without controversy and it does make a person think.  A copy can be found at this link:

I enjoy reading memoirs and welcome suggestions for other books and readings.

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