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Chapter 3 explores and deconstructs the concept of whiteness through close readings of memoir and fiction by African American writers, interwoven with stories of the writer’s family life with her husband and two growing sons. The case of the Central Park Jogger, in which a group of black boys were arrested and imprisoned for years (and eventually exonerated), merges with the response of one of the sons whose name is similar to one of the arrested boys; a close friend who is a converted Jewish woman and a rabbi leads a yearly seder occasioning the writer’s contemplation of her own secular Jewish identity as the daughter of an immigrant; stories of the challenges of teaching race studies in classes in which one or two black students are made uncomfortably representative, white students are both resistant and subject to silencing guilt—all such experiences continue the writer’s personal and philosophical questioning. The chapter’s climax tells the story of a minor operation on one of her sons which almost becomes dangerous and threatening due to racial and gender stereotyping of black boys and ends on the Jewish concept of “the welcomed stranger” encoded in the words of Ruth of the Old Testament when she “passes over” into her mother-in-law’s cultural world.

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