by Scott Minerbrook
Scott Minerbrook's parents hail from opposite ends of the cultural spectrum. His father was a pampered only child born into Chicago's aspiring black bourgeoisie, while his mother was an idealistic girl from a large family of poor white Missouri farmers. Minerbrook grew up in the 1950s and '60s, in a world that was fighting the grim realities of racial separatism and willful ignorance with the ideals of equality and integration. At home, his parents fought each other and a host of personal demons, even as they raised four boys, excelled in their careers, and moved from Chicago, to Manhattan's Upper West Side, and finally to the leafy suburbs of Connecticut. Minerbrook completed his schooling at Harvard's burgeoning African-American studies department and went on to raise a family of his own. But by the time he reached his late thirties, he was no longer satisfied with living an emotional half-life, rejecting and rejected by so much of his flesh and blood. He set out for his mother's hometown in the Botheel of Missouri, determined to claim the white relatives who had refused to recognize his existence. Despite their desire to "keep things just as they are," he knew that bringing down the daunting barrier called race was essential to his humanity and to theirs. In the course of his journey, Minerbrook takes a hard look at his upbringing and the lives of his parents. He digs deep to explore the meaning of family, the roots of identity, and the reasons why we lay so many basic human problems at the door of race. Lyrically written, painfully honest, psychologically and socially astute, this powerful memoir challenges us all to confront the divisive cult of race and to move beyond it.
Hardcover: 259 pages