Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Struggling against the bounds and burdens of race, Pittsburgh poet Derricotte rages and recoils with shame and sadness at her memory of living as a person of visibly indeterminate race in a society determined by race relations. She sometimes escaped the shell of her blackness, passing by choice, and sometimes escaped the substance of blackness, shunning herself. But her identity crisis resisted every dodge. Racial awareness weighed on her sense of self, motherhood, marriage, community, and work. It depressed her with something akin to Danish philosopher SÝren Kierkegaard's sickness unto death. Her diarylike reflections mix the pain and pathos of Sue Kaufman's Diary of a Mad Housewife (1967) and recent evocations of personal and public confusion of racial identity in Judy Scales-Trent's Notes of a White Black Woman (Penn State Univ., 1995) and Gregory Howard Williams's Life on the Color Line (Dutton, 1995). For collections on race, U.S. society, women, autobiography, and African Americans.‘Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The emotions and sentiments of Derricotte's notebook are captured when she writes that "I have been mistaken in thousands of groups for white, and I have taken part in conversations that touch on things deep and personal with white people. But I cannot conceive of white people having a communal pain that equals the compelling energy and focus that comes from being black in our society." Derricotte shares 20 years of revelation, pain, confusion, consciousness, self-awareness, and acceptance as she details events both personal and professional that have caused her to examine her blackness and its impact on her understanding of herself and the world. The complexity of race and its effects on blacks, particularly the various shades of black, exacerbate the race issue within and outside of the black community. Derricotte's original mission may have been to aid herself in the examination of race and its impact on her life, yet she has accomplished the task of leading the reader into an examination of how race influences who we are and how we see ourselves. A must for the African American collection. --Lillian Lewis


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Derricotte examines her experiences of being black in the U.S. for what she can learn about race and its impact on her life, in the process spurring readers into examining their understanding of how race influences who they are and how they see themselves.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Many readers of this book will want to find positive, hopeful images, but poet Derricotte‘a black woman who is sometimes mistaken for white‘prefers to "record the language of self-hate," the internalized racism she sees in herself and others. She began these diffuse but resonant notebooks some 20 years ago, during an increasingly infuriating search for a house in a white suburb of New York City. As her frustrations and isolation mount, her marriage frays; her dark-skinned husband who is a banker acknowledges to her that he married her in part for her light skin, while Derricotte confesses some revulsion at his looks. Her diaries plumb numerous racially freighted incidents. After she fights off a black attacker, the author thinks she hears him disparage her color. The white students she teaches write cathartic poems about childhood but black ones write about race. A white colleague at an artists' colony treats her with condescension. Yet the author also acknowledges she picks white women as confessors, "maybe precisely because they didn't have the same agony about race." Derricotte might have done more to analyze how much of her anguish is personal rather than racial, but her candor is brave. Author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

A black woman whose light skin has allowed her to pass for white, poet/ professor Derricotte speaks of her tormented struggles with her racial identity. (LJ 10/1/97) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.