978-0-393-31901-9 / 9780393319019

The Black Notebooks: An Interior Journey


Publisher:W. W. Norton & Company



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About the book:

Realizing that her light skin and "good hair" conspired to give her a unique, unasked-for perspective on the racial divide in the United States, African American poet Toi Derricotte inscribed her anguish in two decades' worth of journal entries. The Black Notebooks records countless moments when Derricotte was showered with offhand entitlements and racist confidences by whites who assumed she, too, was white. She speaks ambivalently of milking such moments, deliberately making end runs around her dark-skinned husband, Bruce, while looking for a home in an all-white suburb or hoping for a decent hotel room. Derricotte talks bluntly, too, of a self-loathing that accompanies being black in America and of not being "black enough." Her honest, angry, painful truth-telling veers into self-absorption and repetition, but perhaps that's fitting: racism hammers away at people in tiny and huge events repeated day after day. Says Derricotte, "My skin causes certain problems continuously, problems that open the issue of racism over and over like a wound."

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