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Taking inspiration from Ralph Ellison’s phrase “the blackness of blackness,” used in the prologue of Invisible Man, chapter 2 explores and critiques the concept of color-blindness as a liberal ideal that is ultimately both false and destructive. The author’s experiences as a young woman teaching in an almost all-black high school, and her current experiences teaching undergraduates in a predominately white liberal arts college, both in New York City, culminating in personal memories of ignorance and increasing understanding as a member of a close black extended family, draws a detailed portrait of the growing awareness in one American woman about her place in a racially divided nation, within a racially mixed family. The story of racial mixing traces how intellectual passion and maternal and family love entwine to create a sense of awareness and belonging.

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