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Real American: A Memoir Kindle Edition
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“Courageous, achingly honest."
—Michelle Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
“A compelling, incisive and thoughtful examination of race, origin and what it means to be called an American. Engaging, heartfelt and beautifully written, Lythcott-Haims explores the American spectrum of identity with refreshing courage and compassion.”
—Bryan Stevenson, New York Times bestselling author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
A fearless memoir in which beloved and bestselling How to Raise an Adult author Julie Lythcott-Haims pulls no punches in her recollections of growing up a black woman in America.
Bringing a poetic sensibility to her prose to stunning effect, Lythcott-Haims briskly and stirringly evokes her personal battle with the low self-esteem that American racism routinely inflicts on people of color. The only child of a marriage between an African-American father and a white British mother, she shows indelibly how so-called "micro" aggressions in addition to blunt force insults can puncture a person's inner life with a thousand sharp cuts. Real American expresses also, through Lythcott-Haims’s path to self-acceptance, the healing power of community in overcoming the hurtful isolation of being incessantly considered "the other."
The author of the New York Times bestselling anti-helicopter parenting manifesto How to Raise an Adult, Lythcott-Haims has written a different sort of book this time out, but one that will nevertheless resonate with the legions of students, educators and parents to whom she is now well known, by whom she is beloved, and to whom she has always provided wise and necessary counsel about how to embrace and nurture their best selves. Real American is an affecting memoir, an unforgettable cri de coeur, and a clarion call to all of us to live more wisely, generously and fully.
“A bold, impassioned memoir that . . . riveting[ly] and deeply . . . sheds fresh light on race and discrimination in American society.”
"Lythcott-Haims is not a tragic figure. From the first chapter, she jabs a finger at the listener while issuing an invitation to listen. This is a growth story, one only the writer can deliver. She knows where to place the emotion--in the pride and love she feels for her father and in the pain of what her Midwestern neighbors really thought of the family. This academic has heart." - AudioFile
“Breaks the silence on what it means to grow up mixed-race in America. Her spare but powerful prose has an emotional rawness that will profoundly resonate with all readers and help many feel a little less alone.”
―Heidi W. Durrow, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
“A cathartic and bold truth-telling.”
―Danzy Senna, bestselling author of Caucasia and New People
“A powerful, honest book that should be required reading for everyone.”
―Anita Amirrezvani, author of The Blood of Flowers and Equal of the Sun
“To write with such an open heart about race and Blackness takes great courage. To do so in prose that is at once elegant and raw takes great talent.”
―Ayelet Waldman, bestselling author of Bad Mother and of A Really Good Day
“Real American is a courageous, achingly honest meditation on what it means to come to consciousness as a mixed race child and adult in a nation where Black lives weren't meant to matter.”
―Michelle Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
“A true achievement . . . so much more than a personal memoir . . . [Lythcott-Haims] channels the shrewdness of Eula Biss and the compassion of Ta-Nehisi Coates.”
―Lee Daniel Kravetz, international bestselling author of Strange Contagion and Supersurvivors
"In a text that resembles a memoir, a prose poem, and an album of verbal snapshots, a writer from a mixed racial background chronicles her journey―and battle―to understand her racial identity . . . Many potent and painful reminders that we have a long, long way to go regarding race and identity."
“Powerful . . . a memoir that [illuminates] the psychic cost of racism to those who are cast as ‘other.’ The journey of self-healing and the empowerment . . . is a story of triumph from which all of us can learn.”
―Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Can We Talk About Race?
“Stands for, and stands up for, Americans who are questioned, confronted, disregarded and unnerved by our citizen country . . . Real American will be one of those books that is passed from hand to hand, with passages marked where readers find strong words that speak truth.”
―A.J. Verdelle, author of The Good Negress
“Shows once again, plainly and unforgettably, that if you are Black in America, it does not matter who you are, racism will come knocking. Lythcott-Haims . . . Real American is the story of that insidious harm and of a woman who became alert to the American racism within herself and fought back. Real American is not only an excellent, satisfying read but a book that can help us “stay woke”―as we must―to the sometimes stealthy and always life-threatening danger of racism, so that we all can fight back.”
―Barbara Lee, U.S. Representative and author of Renegade for Peace and Justice: A Memoir of Political and Personal Courage
“A memoir isn’t worth the paper on which it is printed if it is not, first and foremost, brutally honest. Julie Lythcott-Haims’ memoir, Real American, is not only worth the paper on which it is written, it is priceless. Real American is the humorous and heartbreaking story of the coming of age of an American woman born to a Black father and a White mother. Lythcott-Haims writes movingly and courageously of her struggle to figure out to which race she belongs . . . It isn’t easy being biracial in this country; Real American compellingly and honestly tells you why.”
―LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, retired California judge and former Vice Provost at Stanford University
“A poignant, sensitive, and often times painful personal account of growing up as a biracial person in color-conscious, contemporary America. This gem of a book provides compelling stories about how race permeates the American psyche and how it so heavily weighs on people ‘too white to be black and too black to be white.’”
―Albert Camarillo, Professor of American History and founding director of Stanford University’s Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity
“ . . . No punches pulled. The tortuous path of being and becoming and insisting as we each have a right to be a real American.”
―Mary Frances Berry, the Geraldine Segal Professor of American Social Thought, University of Pennsylvania, and former Chairperson United States Commission on Civil Rights
“Lythcott-Haims (How to Raise an Adult) has written a bold, impassioned memoir that explores the emotional and cultural divide imposed by American racism on people of mixed race. Born in 1967 to an African-American father and a white British mother, she was proud that her parents “broke the rules” despite the racial sneers and ridicule she experienced growing up in Palisades, N.Y., and Madison, Wis. However, the steadfast support of her loving mother and of her father, an accomplished physician appointed by President Carter as assistant surgeon general in 1977, couldn’t prepare the insecure, mixed-race teen for navigating a white world ...”
“In this raw, accessible exploration of what it is to be truly American, author Julie Lythcott-Haims offers up her lifelong struggle with racial identity and internalized oppression. Her fascinating family―prominent black American father and resilient white British mother, married in newly-independent West Africa―provides a front row to history, while Julie’s journey―like that of so many Civil Rights babies―reveals the limitations of privilege, from getting an Ivy League degree and professional career, to marrying white and American-dreaming in the suburbs. A fearless invitation to the important conversations black and white America needs to be having.”
―Faith Adiele, author of Meeting Faith and The Nigerian-Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems
About the Author
- ASIN : B01MR92UQN
- Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (October 3, 2017)
- Publication date : October 3, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 3547 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 260 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #239,353 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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I typically hate memoirs by "non- famous" ( or even most "famous") people, because in the back of my mind I'm always asking, "well, what makes you so special?". However, this author's bravery and honesty are what make her special. She sheds light/insight on questions I have always wondered about people like her (bi-racial with a socio - economically privileged and predominantly white upbringing). But, if I'm being honest, it gave me, perhaps the most insight into myself (Black, blue-collar upbringing, white private school/ivy league educated).
The book is also, I think, a must-read for White people who have or want Black friends. The author explains so well the constant "dance" we find ourselves in as we try to pretend racism is getting better and that we should just all get along.
It's a very quick read (a few hours at most) and it's beautifully written, from a visual perspective.
This memoir is fundamentally well-written and I have read several memoirs recently where I was so taken with the story but not so much with the writing quality or style. This is different. Taking apart different memories, different times and places in one's life is simply not possible to do in a clean chronological line, I am convinced. Lythcott-Haims doesn't try to do that - she creates snapshots, vignettes, prose poems, and pieces them together in an artful way. You don't get lost, if you aren't supposed to be on a chronological path anyway. That said, it is generally chronological, and she doesn't talk about the details of being Freshman Dean at Stanford before she talks about the details of being a middle-school kid. But the short glimpses forward and back are done well, and poetically, and by the end we have a deep understanding of how the author has come to be herself, we feel like we've followed her journey closely, not simply read the summary at the end.
Memoir allows us to see how one individual's experience gives us insight into cultural, economic, and political realities as vast as a whole continent. The message and the perspective are what we crave in memoir. In Real American the understanding of what it means to have a white mother and a black father at the close of the twentieth century is the personal experience. The white side of the author's family is not nearly as detailed in the book as the black side, but that makes sense: the book is about the American experience, not the British experience where her white relatives live. If she had been raised in Britain she would have had an entirely different experience around race to begin with. No, the focus is on finding a black identity in a deeply racist country. She keeps it personal, largely. It's about her own family, their own hang-ups, and how she absorbs the outside world growing up. Later, she writes about becoming more aware of her own role in that outside world, the adult world, the political world, and what her very existence means, not only to herself but to others.
She becomes a mother. She marries. Lythcott-Haims is economically and socially privileged in many ways. She writes a fantastic book, How to Raise an Adult, which I also highly encourage all educators and parents to read, and her trajectory puts her more and more directly in a cultural spotlight through book tours and interviews. She tells us, in a deeply personal, vulnerable, scary way, how she feels about all these things. She wraps us in her experience. She gets angry, she self-loathes, she feels black, she feels too white and not white enough, she feels shunned by both sides at different times. And then she figures it out for herself.
Since I am white, and I will admit I have few interactions with African Americans, it is important for me to be let in to that experience through these pages. So very, very important. I was not given a window via my public school education, nor my liberal arts college education, nor my European graduate degree, nor my social circle or personal reading habits. I had to be intentional, and go seek out African and African American literature over the past year. That in itself says something. We are not exposed to this in our "everyday white lives", people. Seek it out. Try to understand. Read this damn book.