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Beyond The Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black Sons

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  120 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
“I am Black,” Jane Lazarre’s son tells her. “I have a Jewish mother, but I am not ‘biracial.’ That term is meaningless to me.” She understands, she says—but he tells her, gently, that he doesn’t think so, that she can’t understand this completely because she is white. Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness is Jane Lazarre’s memoir of coming to terms with this painful truth, of ...more
Paperback, 168 pages
Published August 13th 1997 by Duke University Press Books (first published 1996)
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Nov 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
A very difficult, thought-provoking book. It is difficult for me to hear or read about the struggles that Black people (and other people of color) have that I don't have simply because I am white. It makes me uncomfortable to think others aren't treated the same way I am, and it makes me uneasy to know that I don't even realize it until it's pointed out to me. I don't want to be racist, but I fear my ignorance leads me to unintentional racism.

The author's story of watching her boys (now grown)
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This book covers a sensitive topic that is of the utmost importance. Understanding the racism that is embedded in European-American culture (as well as in other places) is not only important but absolutely necessary if we hope to live in a harmonious and loving world.
Duke Press
"[An] illuminating book . . . Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness offer[s] invaluable insights not just for those working to raise children in biracial families, but for all who would like to understand the notion of whiteness in order to see beyond it and reach for fairness."
— Boyd Zenner Women's Review of Books

"This is a passionate, provocative, and moving narrative that should be on every American's reading list. Jane Lazarre writes from an angle of vision that seems completely missing from t
It was heartbreaking to read her stories of the racism encountered by her sons and the racism encountered by the whole family when together. But more heartbreaking was the alienation she felt from her own family.

What I wondered throughout, though, was to what degree the family's class buffered what would inevitably be worse if her husband or both of them had not been so socioeconomically elite (at least in adulthood). Her family is clearly at least upper-middle class (some would say it is impos
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness" is now marked as "read" on my profile, though it's words will long remain in my mind. Lazarre has presented many aspects of racism and of consciousness that in some ways, made an exhausting read, as it brought me to reflect on the ways in which race has pervaded my own life or how its absence has allowed me to live comfortably. I am still not sure what to do with many of the bits of consciousness this book has produced within me, but I found this to be a wonde ...more
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book was like having all of my internal thoughts, and fears, and love laid out on a page. If you are a white person who loves a black person in this f*ed up racist world, you must read this book.

"It is not that we cannot understand each other, but that we presume that understanding too quickly, close the unfamiliar story down with out own intrusive narrating, have no patience or endurance for the difficult times of exile to that wilderness which can often feel lonely and unsafe."

Franny Burd
May 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
I am a mother of a bi-racial son, and there are no words to describe how much I hated this book and the author's pious attitude toward race and how it's perceived in this country. If you're looking for a book dealing with raising children of mixed race, I would highly recommend "The Color of Water" instead, one of my all-time favorite books. Yes, I'm sure I'll be labeled as a just another white woman who "doesn't get it", but so be it.
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
This resonated with me on so many levels and in so many ways.
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memior
An incredible read. Should be required reading for everyone. A white mother's story of raising her half-white half-black sons.
Kaycee Looney
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
A book that really made me think about race relations in America. I would recommend it to others interested in the subject.
Jun 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: race-in-america
Robin Stevenson
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Thoughtful and thought-provoking.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Touching and eye opening memoir by a writer more literary than sociological. Loving view into the heart of family.
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Many excellent points - clearly written and a great addition to the library of Racial consciousness.
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Jane Lazarre is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black Sons, Wet Earth and Dreams: A Narrative of Grief and Recovery, and The Mother Knot, as well as the novels Inheritance and Some Place Quite Unknown. She has won awards for her fiction from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Y ...more
More about Jane Lazarre...