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A Lyrical Memoir

by Davon Loeb

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2023
ISBN: 9781952271748
Publisher: West Virginia Univ. Press

Resonant tales of growing up biracial.

Loeb, an assistant features editor at the Rumpus, makes his book debut with an engaging coming-of-age memoir in the form of lyrical essays. The son of a White Jewish father and Black mother, the author was raised by his mother after his parents divorced. With his “sandy beige” skin, he was “the white boy in a family of Black boys and Black girls, of Black men and Black women, and years of being Black in this stoic world made my skin some kind of leprosy.” Loeb was one of only a few Black kids in school, which was especially troubling during Black History Month, when he felt singled out. Although he played with White boys and ate at their families’ tables, he became acutely aware of underlying racism. Loeb dealt with the awkwardness of adolescence by taking cues from the ways Blacks were portrayed in popular culture. “I had no balance between being Black and acting Black,” he writes. “The two were inseparable. I was just a replica of the things I saw on television.” The author vividly recounts visits with members of his extended family, including his Nana, the grandfather who taught him to fight, and the many boisterous cousins with whom he spent hot summers in Alabama. Even while they enjoyed childhood adventures, they also “learned about the danger of skin, how the hooded boogeymen, as we called them, would come and get us.” The memoir gets its title from an essay on the perils of driving while Black. “The in-betweens,” Loeb writes, “are when the police officer is about to step to the window when I am watching him from the rearview mirror and unsure about what will happen next.” His mother tried mightily to prepare him for these moments: “Mom said that even though I was only half Black, one drop of the blood made me Black enough.”

Engagingly delivered, candid reflections on heritage and identity.