Divided To The Vein: A Journey into Race and Family

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9780151931071: Divided To The Vein: A Journey into Race and Family
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Born of a favored son of Chicago's aspiring black bourgeoisie and the idealistic daughter of white Southeast Missouri farmers, Scott Minerbrook grew up in the 1950s and '60s in a world characterized by both the highest ideals of racial integration and the grim realities of racial separatism and willful ignorance. In his late thirties, Minerbrook set out to claim the white grandparents who had refused to recognize his existence. Despite their determination to "keep things just as they are," he knew that bringing down the daunting barrier called race was essential to his humanity, and to theirs. In the course of his journey, Minerbrook takes a hard look at his upbringing and at the lives of his parents and considers how their habits of mind have touched his. Lyrically written, painfully honest, psychologically and socially astute, Minerbrook's memoir challenges all of us to overcome the cult of race and to move beyond it.

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About the Author:

Scott Minerbrook's parents hail from opposite ends of the cultural spectrum. His father was a pampered only child born into Chicago's aspiring black bourgeoisie, while his mother was an idealistic girl from a large family of poor white Missouri farmers. Minerbrook grew up in the 1950s and '60s, in a world that was fighting the grim realities of racial separatism and willful ignorance with the ideals of equality and integration. At home, his parents fought each other and a host of personal demons, even as they raised four boys, excelled in their careers, and moved from Chicago, to Manhattan's Upper West Side, and finally to the leafy suburbs of Connecticut. Minerbrook completed his schooling at Harvard's burgeoning African-American studies department and went on to raise a family of his own. But by the time he reached his late thirties, he was no longer satisfied with living an emotional half-life, rejecting and rejected by so much of his flesh and blood. He set out for his mother's hometown in the Botheel of Missouri, determined to claim the white relatives who had refused to recognize his existence. Despite their desire to "keep things just as they are", he knew that bringing down the daunting barrier called race was essential to his humanity and to theirs.

From Library Journal:

Like Gregory Williams's Life on the Color Line (LJ 2/1/95), these two memoirs describe growing up interracial from the perspective of the sons of African American fathers and white mothers. McBride, an accomplished journalist and musician, has viewed the yawning chasm of racial division from both sides and, despite carving out a successful life, has been scarred. Unlike Williams and Minerbrook, though, he focuses on a single, singular parent, a rabbi's daughter who later helped her husband establish an all-black Baptist church in her home and saw 12 children through college. His mother's own story, juxtaposed with McBride's, helps make this book a standout. Recommended for all collections. Minerbrook's father came from Chicago's African American high society, his mother from rural Missouri. He paints a detailed portrait of their family life, of relationships complicated by the fact that "human emotions, when mixed with racial issues, are prone to shatter like glass." Nearing middle age, he seeks out the white side of his family, who have rejected his mother and her offspring, and achieves a well-deserved catharsis. Still, his accounts of the almost unrelenting prejudice of white against black, black against white, light-skinned black against dark-skinned black, and so on are deeply disturbing. One is left to borrow the words of another recent commentator and say that this cancer does indeed make me want to holler. Highly recommended.
-?Jim Burns, Ottumwa P.L., Ia.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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