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What Are You?: Voices of Mixed-Race Young People Hardcover – June 15, 1999
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From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up-In this sensitive, thoughtful collection of interviews, essays, and poetry, over 40 young adults ranging in age from 14 to 26 relate their experiences growing up in the United States. Their racial identities represent a wide blend of cultures: European, African, Asian, Native American, Jewish, Arabic, Caribbean, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander. Arranged thematically with occasional author notes offering clarification and transition, the primarily upbeat testimonies address issues of discrimination, dating, family dynamics, and self-esteem. The contributors have had to respond to prejudice both inside and outside their own ethnic groups in addition to universal problems, such as financial worries, divorce, parent and sibling conflicts, and academic pressures. Although American society challenged them to "check one box," declaring the race they belong to, they have resisted categorization, seeking instead to understand and express the rich blend that is their personal heritage. They have drawn strength and optimism from a support network provided by family members, organizations, and/or advocacy groups. A helpful resource section includes annotated lists of affinity and advocacy groups and Web sites, as well as relevant fiction and nonfiction books, magazines, and movies and videos. While underscoring the complexity of the mixed-race experience, these unadorned voices offer a genuine, poignant, enlightening and empowering message to all readers.
Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"In the eyes of many people I am the product of a relationship that wasn't supposed to happen." "I'm no tragedy, and no exotic other." "I'm no jungle-fever rainbow baby." The contemporary voices are disturbing, frank, witty, and heartfelt. In essay, interview, and poetry, 45 mixed-race young people between the ages of 14 and 26, from all over the U.S., speak about their growing up. Whether black and white, white and Asian, Hispanic and black, Jewish and black, or whatever, each one is intensely personal; yet each one speaks to universals of coming-of-age as an outsider who doesn't fit into accepted categories. You read one piece, and it seems to say it all; turn to the next young person, and there is more surprise and drama. As with all authentic writing, the closer you get, the more diversity you see, and the more connections. Some speak of shame, some of pride; most have experienced both, in school and community, in their own families, in their individual searches for roots and love. Gaskins is a journalist for a teen educational magazine and is herself of mixed race. She allows the young people to speak for themselves, but she adds brief commentary where necessary as well as an excellent overview, and the insights of historians, therapists, and other experts. She applauds the recent revolutionary change that allows people to check more than one racial category on federal forms. The extensive annotated list of resources--including books, movies, Web sites, and advocacy groups--adds to the value of this landmark book. Read this with Bell's novel Zack, reviewed on p.1689, about one boy's search for his family roots, and with Nash's Forbidden Love, p.1687, for a view of American history through the lens of race. Hazel Rochman
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Top Customer Reviews
The worst part of being multi-racial is the feeling that you are alone. If you're a member of another minority, even though you may experience horrible racism there is the comfort of knowing that they are others like you who are treated the same way. As a multi-racial person there is no feeling of having a "people". We have no community, no role-models, no intuition that we're not the only one of our kind in the world. I took joy in reading this book and realizing that they were more of us out there than I had realized.