Kathleen Hagen's Reviews > The Grace of Silence: A Memoir

The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris
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Nov 13, 10

bookshelves: 2010-audio-books, 2010-nonfiction
Read in October, 2010

The Grace of Silence, by Michele Norris, narrated by the author, produced by Random Audio and downloaded from audible.com.

Michele Norris, one of the hosts of NPR’s “All Things Considered” began exploring, in the aftermath of Barack Obama being elected the first African-American president, whether or not this was a post-racial society. But as she interviewed more and more people, she began finding out her own family’s hidden secrets, including that her father, within days of returning home from WW II, was shot by the Birmingham Alabama cops. Since her father was deceased by the time she found this out, she had to depend on the conversations with remaining relatives, and even with relatives of the policemen involved. She set about trying to understand the biases that still exist among African-Americans regarding Whites, and the responding fears and biases of Whites. This is an amazing book for its honesty and Norris’ willingness to lay all bare in exposing truths. Since Norris grew up in Minneapolis, where her family moved in the hopes of starting a better life, and since I am a resident of Minneapolis, it was disheartening to learn that when Norris’ parents purchased their house in south Minneapolis in the late’40’s, that neighbors all around them put their houses on the market rather than live next to “Negroes.” She talks of the family pattern of never spending time worrying about the slights they all put up with, of learning to retain calmness and courtesy always, and to hide anger. As could be expected since she is a NPR regular, her narration of the book is very well done.

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