Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black Sons
Jane Lazarre is the author of many books, including the memoirs
Reunions, Retellings, Refrains
In chapter 4 the extended family attends two large reunions held in North Carolina, one of which is also the occasion of scattering into the ocean the ashes of a beloved brother-in-law, brother to the writer’s husband, a man who was a lifelong activist for both racial justice and gay rights and who died of AIDS. A partial history of the family is told as they ride through the small city of Kinston, North Carolina, where the writer’s husband and his siblings were raised in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s. Racial identities and skin color ambiguities and hierarchies are explored, interwoven with family scenes and readings of other memoirs concerning race and identity. The discovery in a small, old community graveyard of the tombstones of grandparents and great-grandparents is juxtaposed with a visit to a more recent black cemetery—the races still divided in death—where recent losses are commemorated.
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