SHADES OF DIFFERENCE by Constance Barusis


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Shades of Difference depicts a variety of white attitudes toward Negroes as seen by high school junior Greg Davis. He gets to know Jake Williams through his after-school job at a ghetto recreation center; a friendship develops but the white neighborhood is edgy and eventually intercedes. Greg slugs it out with his basketball team captain, talks it over with his girl, but only his father supports him and he admits he draws a line too. Greg finds his own ""limit"" when the fiance of the blond beauty he works with turns out to be black. He is naive, which is acceptable, but his father's insight -- that the culture equates Negroes and ugliness, that everyone picks up something of the attitude -- is inadequate without some further perspective. With just that idea to work from, he implicitly condones anything from virulent racism to self-flagellation and thus perpetuates his ""aesthetic."" The situation (social worker father; teacher's niece at the center, why no job for Jake?; term paper on prejudice) is loaded and yet a few scenes -- in suburbia -- are crisp and sharp. But the approach (FRIENDSHIP, CONFLICT, DETACHMENT, DISCOVERY as chapter headings) is overloaded and much of the language and many of the postures of the ""colored people"" are old fashioned and offensive. It could have been a powerhouse; this is just a minor generator.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1968
Publisher: St. Martin's Press