HALF AND HALF by Claudine C. O'Hearn


Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural
Age Range: 0 - 375
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paper 0-375-70011-0 A lively collection of essays on the theme of being biracial and bicultural in contemporary American society. Editor O’Hearn, herself born in Hong Kong and raised in Asia and Europe, has assembled a passionate medley of writings by 18 authors who share a bicultural or biracial identity. Despite vast differences in their social, economic, and racial backgrounds, a number of subtopics emerge. Among these is the sense of alienation experienced by them as children. The need to belong was in many cases intensified by prejudice as a pressure all too frequently encountered. Meri Nana-Ama Dunquah, a native of Ghana who grew up in Washington, D.C., faced her cruelest hostility from black American kids who taunted her with shouts of “You-you-you African! Go back to Africa!” Journalist Danzy Senna, the daughter of a WASP mother and a black-Mexican father, identifies herself as black, but passes for white often enough to hear whites—including well-meaning white liberals--speak in “smug disdain” about blacks. And the prejudice, of course, is not exclusive to childhood or to America. Francisco Goldman, the brown-skinned son of a Jewish father and a Guatemalan mother, encountered the worst display of prejudice when visiting Madrid, where taxis wouldn’t stop for him but police officers did. Still, it’s also apparent that many biracial and bicultural people have enjoyed an enviable edge. Though not totally at home in any one world, they seem better able to adapt to many, as Meri Nana-Ama Dunquah observes: “Like a chameleon I am ever-changing.— The essays make it plain, too, just how obsessed we Americans are with matters of race and identity. Replete with candid accounts and sensitive musings.

Pub Date: July 8th, 1998
ISBN: 0-375-40031-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998


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