Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self


| December 19, 2000


Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self

The current issue of Multi-Racial Activist features an excerpt from Rebecca Walker'S new book, Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of Shifting Self. Through personal stories of growing up with a black mother and a white, Jewish father, Walker probes the confusing nature and construction of racial identity in the United States.

From her 1969 birth to civil rights lawyer Mel Leventhal and writer Alice Walker in Jackson, Mississippi, to her first years in college, Rebecca Walker chronicles her unique experience. Deftly and dramatically, she recalls those years, punctuated by recurring threats from the Ku Klux Klan, visits from a Jewish grandma from Brooklyn, slurs for being Black, mixed or Jewish, and special treatment in school for her light complexion. But behind this outer confusion was Walker's backbone: two loving parents, united in 1967 despite the glaring taboo of interracial marriage. 'In a photograph from their wedding day,' Walker writes, 'they stand, brown and pale pink, inseparable, my mother's tiny five-foot-one-inch frame nestled birdlike within my father's protective embrace. Fearless, naive, breathtaking, they profess their shiny, outlaw love for all the world to see.'

Walker proudly writes, 'I am not a bastard, the product of a rape, the child of some white devil. I am a Movement Child.'

The Multi-Racial Activist website itself provides a fascinating look at the changing notion of race in America as less and less folks can (or want) to check off only one 'race' on the census form. The MRA advocates the dissolution of race as a legitimate category, calling for the 'abolition of the divisive, unconstitutional categories...[which] breed racism instead of fighting racism.' Without race, these new abolitionists say, there can be no racism.

Other actions the politically libertarian MRA supports include transracial adoptions, the resignation of Senator Trent Lott (for supposed consorts with racist organizations), fighting hatred no matter the color of the source, and dissolving what they call the 'One-Drop Mythology,' which they contend feeds racial conflict.
--Amanda Luker
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